Blackburn Project


“Awards for All” funded outreach project

In March 2019 Performers Without Borders (PWB) received a £9660 Awards For All grant from the National Lottery Fund to support us to provide circus arts workshops for Looked After Children (LAC) and vulnerable youth in the Blackburn Area. We collaborated with three partner organisations:

★ Young People’s Services, Kaleidoscope Center
★ Blackburn’s Foster Carers Association
★ The Bureau Center for the Arts

With support from our partners, the PWB team delivered 30 circus arts instruction workshops supporting 471 Looked After Children and other vulnerable youth aged 5 to 18 in Blackburn during Autumn/Winter 2021.

The initial timeline for project implementation was delayed by the Covid-19 lockdowns across the UK. When these restrictions were lifted, the workshops were delivered in adherence to the Covid19 restrictions and robust measures were taken to minimise the risks associated with the virus. The circus arts instruction workshop’s comprised circus skills including diabolo, plate spinning, poi, juggling, balance equipment, tight-wires, giant ladders! Loads of team building games, exercises and songs, aerial hoop, and it all culminated in planning and performing a final show to families and carers at our Christmas party celebration in December 2021.

The workshops were well received by participants, carers and other stakeholders, who reported a range of positive outcomes including enhanced confidence and improved physical coordination.

See the full report here >  Blackburn Report 2021


“My child had a great time and was excited every week to go.”

In January 2022 PWB received a £10,000 ‘Awards for All grant’ from the National Lottery Fund to support us to provide circus arts workshops for Looked After Children (LAC) and vulnerable youth in the Blackburn Area.

This followed up and built on our previous past two projects in Blackburn, which were also Lottery funded. We collaborated with Young People’s Services (YPS), a service provider of quality and intensive targeted youth support to young people aged between 8 –19 years that are referred in via Schools, Police, Children’s Social Care and various Local Authorities, and Voluntary Community Faith Sector partners. With support from our partner YPS, the PWB team delivered 22 circus arts instruction workshops supporting 462 LAC and other vulnerable youth aged 5 to 25 in Blackburn during Spring/Summer 2022.

See the full report here > Blackburn Report 2022

“After working with you guys, she’s a totally different child.”

In 2019 we conducted this servay after delivering a volunteer lead workshop in Blackburn to obtain our funding from The National lottery.

Here are some Responses we got from it!

Q6) Why do you think an activity such as circus is needed in this area?

“I think it will give children an opportunity to meet new friends and learn skills”, “To encourage an active lifestyle and socialisation”, “To increase confidence and self esteem”.

Q7) What do you think the main benefits will be and what you will learn?

“Coordination, Communication, socialisation”, “Social skills, balance, physical development”, “Another activity to do in Blackburn – not many. How good it is for well being”.

Q8) What other activities would you like to see happening in your area?

“Drama and music events”, “Fun things- more physical”, “gymnastics, kickboxing”.

Q9) Have you been to any activities at the Bureau Center for the arts before and how have they impacted your life?

“I’ve been to activities many times and this has allowed me to make new friends”, “No- only just found out about it”, “Yes to know and to learn”.

Q10) Do you have any other comments?

“Children really enjoyed the circus area here today”, “I think circus is a great way to help children’s well being”, “The kids spent most of their time in the circus area”.

“He loved attending and telling everyone about his
achievements and asked if he can go to the next one!”

Circus arts have been shown to improve physical and mental well being as well as promote confidence, team skills, self-esteem, mindfulness and socialising. It is more accessible and inclusive than many traditional sports, including for young people with complex and additional needs.

Early engagement in physical activity has also been shown to improve academic achievement and the likelihood of doing physical activity in later life, which has additional long-term benefits.

Please see our research and benefits page for more empirical research on why we know this helps peoples physical and psychological well being at a crucial and tough time in their lives.

See also our video from another workshop project to support this and the evaluation report we did of that project-  Swiss Cottage Project

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