Milton Keynes Young People wear their decisions like crowns

Published: 21st September 2022
This summer was a groundbreaking time for customers at Milton Keynes Young People Service who were able to tell their stories like never before, writes Lynn Gradwell, Director of Young People and Care Leaver Services.

Customers from Look Ahead’s Milton Keynes Young People Service reached a new milestone over the summer, developing important skills such as public speaking, but most importantly building up self-esteem, and preparing for independent living.

Working together with the arts and culture organisation the Black Sheep Collective CIC, the customers put on a new piece of theatre, titled “I wear my Decisions like a Crown”. The performance, which was generously funded by the Milton Keynes Community Foundation and Arts Council England as part of the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, depicts the decisions made by the young people and their journey before Look Ahead.

The performance also drew on examples from the Queen’s life which have influenced the young people. This is really inspiring, given recent events.

The theatre piece brought the young people together to re-tell their experiences and reflect on the commonalities they share with each other. This was by no means an easy feat, but the customers did so with confidence and courage, by gathering in The Market Square outside the Bar Bar Black Sheep Arts Bar and Coffee Shop in Wolverton and putting on their show.

Our Milton Keynes Young People Service Manager, Emma Osei-Lah was delighted, “the young people we work with have really enjoyed using art to help them address some of their previous life experiences. It was great to see the performance come together” she explains.

The show told the story of a young man who comes to the UK as an asylum-seeker and joins Look Ahead as a customer. The young man is faced with new decisions about whether to go to college, where to live, what comes next, and the possible consequences of each choice. The performance also explored how to build communities and find a sense of self in a new place.

The themes and ideas depicted in the piece were fictional representations of conversations had with the young people during the devising process. Crucially, the piece was a reminder to the young people that the choices they make are valuable, and most importantly, theirs.

On behalf of Look Ahead and the Young people we support, I would like to thank Milton Keynes Community Foundation and Arts Council England for funding this project. This fund enabled us to work in partnership with the Black Sheep Collective CIC, and young people, to give our customers an opportunity to find and use their voices, support each other, and build that sense of community together which is so vital to their successfully taking the next steps in their lives.