See Through Theatre Company was founded in 2010 and uses combined arts to inform and inspire people of all ages, particularly those from under-supported backgrounds, in the world of creation and knowledge.
In November 2014, VAC arranged Safeguarding Children training for the theatre, and now theatre Director, Julia Evanjalista, tells us about the impact this has made on the organsiation, and most importantly, the children they work with.
We founded See Through in 2010. We’re still trying to take off but we want to establish ourselves locally because you need to start locally. We’ve been running projects with children for two years now. Right now we’re doing a project about community. We run workshops and take the kids out to places to interview people in different places in the community. Mainly our focus is on the community and most of our projects are to do with community building. We also run a project for old people for which we are trying to get money for two more years. It’s hard. We are a small organisation, basically myself doing everything and maybe five or six more actors who get together and we get some money to do some work.
Q. What was your first experience with VAC?
VAC has been amazing since the beginning. We’ve had lots of help from them getting volunteers. They are a good organisation to talk to about anything to do with community groups because I am still learning. Help with funding applications has been important, and of course the child protection and safeguarding training. Every time I need some help they are there. I would be very sad to lose them. For a very small group like ours, we can’t survive without this support. They are a local organisation with friendly and knowledge people who are willing to help small organisations to develop their work locally, so VAC is extremely important to keep local connections, and in many ways, to keep small, local organisations up and running. We could never have afforded the child protection costs charged by other providers. It’s a great support for us.
Q. So tell us a bit about the Child Protection training at the theatre.
This was the first time I had the idea of doing theatre with children. Then I came across the whole issue about safeguarding children. VAC got in contact with us about doing a safeguarding session for the theatre and this was arranged for 12 of our volunteers. The training at the first level reminds us of the safeguarding basics. None of the people on the course had the opportunity to do child protection training before so it was really amazing. Not just for me. We learned about the basics and were reminded about the things you forget. And also all the new things that have come up. Like this time we talked a lot about the internet in relation to child safeguarding. It’s hard to follow up because so many things are happening all the time. It’s very valid and very important.
Q. Has the training changed any of your working policies?
This year, yes. We had to review this whole internet thing. We are looking into incorporating all the new issues on technology, children leaving workshops during the duration of our activities and so on. VAC helped us to put our policies together.
There are new safeguarding issues arising all the time. For example, this last project we were working on had two girls of 8 or 9 years old and they wanted to do everything by themselves. They would come to our sessions and be very troubled. At some point I got really concerned because we work on the Queens Crescent Estate, which can be quite a dangerous area. You have to think about the possibility of something happening so we always have to think about how we can protect ourselves and protect the child. For example, if a mother wants to leave her child alone with us for any time then making sure that there is an agreement in writing. Lots of little things that we now have to put on paper. Make it official.
Q. Has the safeguarding training from VAC made any difference to your group?
Definitely. You see you can get used to things and stop thinking about them as should be deserved. And sometimes it can be too late. So I think it is important to have this safegurading resource so you can refresh your knowledge. Thereare dangers that we have to deal with all the time. So, we learn about the law and be more specific about safeguarding and how to implement that across the organisation.
Now we are trying to be aware and make children aware of their safety and how we all should behave as a group and to collaborate to be safe. We believe that is a good strategy so children become aware of that they can participate within the process too.
We have already one meeting with the directors and staff to discuss and put on paper the new policies and adding things to our good practice. A second meeting is about to happen when these additions will be elaborated and put on paper officially.
The issue of safeguarding comes up in the PHD I’m doing at Warwick University in Applied Theatre. Because when you do theatre you want to show affection and things like that. So how free can you be and what stops you from expressing that sometimes. How can you do things in an effective way without putting children in danger? It’s complicated and affected by cultural norms.
You can find out more about the work of the See Through Theatre on their website: http://www.seethroughtheatre.com/. On our website you can find out more about Child Safeguarding training at VAC and how to organsise this for your organsiation.