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Episode 1 Reflections on Wellbeing with Tangled Feet

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The questions & answers

What is Tangled Feet and what do you do?

Tangled Feet is a theatre company, charity and we've been an ensemble for almost 20 years.

What are some of the ways that young people are able to express themselves with Tangled Feet?

What young people get with us is a really unique experience being treated as equals in the creative process and creating a story from scratch and coming on that theatre journey with us. It's really important to make sure young people get an authentic experience working with us, get treated like professionals and feel authorship and some level of ownership over the final product.

How do you support young people’s mental and physical wellbeing?

We acknowledge as a company that art is a vehicle that allows you to work through whatever you're going through. One of our project is called The Mindfulness Project working with children in schools (based in Lewisham and Croydon) mixing yoga, mindfulness techniques and story telling to give the children what we call an "invisible toolkit" to help better understand their own emotions, funded by Children in Need.

And how have you had to adapt your work over the last year with the Covid-19 pandemic?

A big part of our work is in drama therapy, where one of our founding members, Alexis Ramsden, runs a session for young carers to provide some respite from their day-to-day. Over Covid we provided phones so everyone could stay in touch and up to date with each other and were very fortunate to be able to resume the in person sessions at the beginning of September. For our other work we used our Instagram and YouTube channel to keep things going.

Can you tell me about a recent piece of work that you’re particularly proud of?

There's lots. The Mindfulness Project keeps growing year on year and I think it's vital for young people at the moment to be aware of their wellbeing and mental health and understand how to help themselves with it. We're also revisiting a project with Next Generation Youth Theatre, our long term collaborators, and with support from Royal Opera House bridge making something specifically for teenagers.

Has there been something that the organisation tried that perhaps didn’t go as well, and what were the key learning from that experience?

We made a piece called "Half Life", which was an inter-generational show and massive. It wasn't that anything went wrong but there was a lot of learning to be had from the experience, particularly due to the nature of participation with a cast of 20 (5 Tangled Feet members, 5 10 year olds, 5 20 year olds, 5 Seniors) with so many moving parts we really found value in a stable secure team, the three participation assistants were amazing.

What advice would you give to other organisations that are looking to start to involve young people more in the way their organisation operates?

I think it's really important to take stock of what's in the community already where you are. What is already available? Who are the people doing it? Connect yourself with them, ask questions, be curious and try and find out what the need is and how you can help. Don't be afraid to just ask people or organisations what they need. Go to your local L set meeting, they're normally quarterly, networking is so important!

If you want to see more from Tangled Feet click here for more from Voice Magazine UK click here.