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For the first time, The Blue Coat School featured in this year’s NOW Festival, a performing arts and mental health event, organised by the Merseyside Youth Association. 

The festival celebrates and listens to the voices of young people on topics that directly influence and impact their mental health, and provides them with a creative platform to explore their thoughts and feelings in a safe and productive way. Prior to the pandemic, creative pieces were performed to a live theatre audience, but this year’s event is taking place online. 

“Entering the NOW Festival has been an ambition of mine for some years, given that we have such creative talents at Blue Coat, along with a lot of thoughtful young people who offer valuable insight,” said Student Support Coordinator Mrs Cobian. “This year’s topic, ‘Listening to the voices of children and young people during COVID19’ really resonated with me; I have witnessed firsthand how our young people have navigated the challenges posed by the pandemic and heard how they have been feeling about it.

“Whilst looking into this year’s festival I was approached by Year 13 student James Wainwright, who explained that he was already working on a piece he had written based on the lockdown experiences of himself and his friends. In reading the script I felt that it represented so much of what our Sixth Form students had been through over the past 18 months, and felt it was an ideal entry for the festival and luckily for me, the piece was already in motion! I am really proud that we are able to showcase James’ work through the Now Festival and wish him every success with it!”

Reflecting on his project James said, “‘Tiers’ is a narrative short that focuses on a group of friends trying to hold themselves together during the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. The narrative seeks to highlight their different situations at home and how it threatens to tear them apart.

“Over the last year, I found myself talking to a lot of people – young people – that had been badly affected by the pandemic, by national lockdowns, and by the government’s handling of both. Some have been stuck paying for a university they hadn’t even stepped inside of, others have been forced to take a year out because they weren’t awarded the grades they deserved and many have lost their jobs and work experience opportuntites designed to help them learn and grow.

“I created this film to shed light on this problem for young people and their mental health, and to show the variety of different ways it’s impacting them. But in entering the NOW Festival I have discovered that this is really just the tip of the iceberg, and hopefully we can now start to do something about it.”

We are delighted to report that Blue Coat’s entry ‘Tiers’ was awarded ‘Best Cinematography.’ We would like to congratulate James on this fantastic achievement and wish him the very best of luck as he embarks on the next exciting phase of his life.

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