Youth Forum's Screenplay Premiere is a Resounding Success The premiere of Children First Derby Youth Forum’s screenplay, ‘Can You Hear Me?’ was met with rapturous applause at the special screening at QUAD Derby, on Wednesday 27th October. Using their collective experiences, the emotive screenplay was written by the Children First Derby Youth Forum, who wanted to get their voices heard about how mental health challenges can affect young people’s education – to highlight the need for additional support. Following a successful collaboration between Children First Derby and QUAD, the screenplay was filmed, and then premiered to a well-attended audience which included local councillors, dignitaries, and education specialists, as part of a concerted effort to help the Youth Forum raise awareness of the struggles young people can face in schools. Meeting at QUAD Derby ahead of the screening, some of the Youth Forum members were interviewed by Andy Twigge, (Twiggy) BBC Radio Derby Breakfast Presenter, including Youth Forum mentee and scriptwriter Emily. Emily described how she was motivated to write the script as she felt that young people with mental health issues were often misrepresented by schools, and their voices were not being heard. The script also includes helpful advice, highlighting mental health services which are available for young people who may need support. All guests were invited into QUAD to watch the premiere, with QUAD thoughtfully providing popcorn and drinks as a treat for all the Youth Forum members. And Children First Derby Chair, Fred Jacques, welcomed everyone with a short introductory speech. After the successful screening, Children First Derby Mentoring Coordinator, Kerreene Davidson, took to the stage and congratulated the Youth Forum on producing such a powerful and moving short film. Kerreene said: We wanted to help our Youth Forum members increase awareness of the issues being faced, to get their voices heard, and to help other young people who are struggling to get support. We would like to thank everyone who has supported this initiative, especially Abbie Canning, (Children and Young People’s Curator, QUAD) and Chris Bevan (KidsQUAD Film Workshop Leader), who have been instrumental in enabling the Youth Forum’s message to reach a much wider audience than would have been possible with a one-off, live performance. Kerreene thanked the guests for attending the screening and concluded: It is clear that more support is needed, and we hope you will help us share this film in schools across the County, and throughout the wider community, to help ensure that the young people’s voices are heard. Jonathan Smale, Conservative Cabinet Member for Place and Community Development, and Hardyal Dhindsa, Labour Councillor Normanton Ward, were invited to the stage to say a few words. Hardyal Dhindsa said: We need to hear young people and their experiences of mental health. Since covid, mental health needs have peaked, and we need to double our efforts to ensure young people’s voices are heard so their mental health needs can be responded to. And I believe the film will help contribute towards this. The film raises awareness of the need to provide more support for children’s mental wellbeing and we will work hard to help get the film shown and heard as wide as possible. Jonathan Smale said: We need to do more to reach out to our young people, to involve children more, and to relay the services available to them. Working closely with our schools and our Head Teachers, this film will be a good way to project our young people’s voice into schools, reassuring them that they can reach out and ask for help. Deputy Lieutenant of Derbyshire, James Stafford, was welcomed to the stage to say a few words and to present certificates of achievement to the Youth Forum Members. Before Children First Derby Founder, Milly Wigley, delivered a heartfelt message of thanks to all the Youth Forum group for their hard work in putting together such an important message. To celebrate the occasion, guests were asked to write in a commemorative book. James Stafford, Deputy Lieutenant wrote: Many congratulations on delivering an amazing short film to ensure the voice of children and young people are heard. We as adults have heard what you say and colleagues will work with you to make a real difference. Be super proud of your achievements! The event concluded with a lively Q&A session, where the audience, which included education specialists and parents, were invited to discuss the screening and put forward their thoughts and suggestions about ways in which mental health support could be increased to help young people in schools. Guests of honour who attended the QUAD premiere included: James Stafford - Deputy Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Jonathan Smale - Conservative Cabinet Member for Place and Community Development, Hardyal Dhindsa - Labour Councillor Normanton Ward and former Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, Dawn Watts - Regional Officer, BBC Children In Need, Central Region, and Vijay Kumari - Funding Officer Midlands, The National Lottery Community Fund QClub at QUAD were able to support this initiative through funding from BBC Children In Need. To watch the Youth Forum's poignant video, please click on the link below.