Today, Lightpost Theatre Company, The Black Pounds Project and Titan Partnership, alongside Birmingham Repertory Theatre, have announced Lightbearers; a new initiative which aims to remedy some of the racial tensions that exist within school environments.

Lightbearers will provide a series of workshops to be developed by Black mentors, working alongside teachers in mainstream schools to jointly articulate their experiences and create a strategy for change. Experienced drama and workshop facilitators will manage a series of workshops and, where applicable, use elements of performance to convey a message.

Black and mixed heritage pupils have rates of permanent exclusion three times that of the student population as a whole. There are a multitude contributing factors to this disparity, including: staff being unaware of how microaggressions have a negative impact on culturally marginalised groups, the reinforcement of existing racial tensions; a lack of Black educators throughout the mainstream education system, from nursery to university level, so that Black children are not seeing themselves represented in environments where they spend the majority of time during key developmental years; add to this next to no representation of Black figures, history and culture across Humanities curriculums, affecting esteem, attainment and aspiration.

The Lightbearers initiative aims to address the myriad of fundamental faults within the UK’s education system which act as a driver not just for exclusion, but also for the over representation of Black adults within mental health and criminal justice settings.

Lightpost Theatre Company is a company of young black men between the ages of 18-26 from across Birmingham and the West Midlands. The company seeks to actively challenge some of the social stigmas and ideas associated with young black men, using theatre as a gateway to create new plays of social and historical importance. For more information visit lightpost.co.uk.

Lightpost Theatre Company originated as part of Shifting the Dial – a programme that aims to improve the mental well-being of young men of African, Caribbean, or mixed African or Caribbean heritage. The Shifting the Dial Partnership is a unique collaboration comprised of The REP, First Class Legacy, Centre for Mental Health and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

The Black Pounds Project (BPP) was founded by CJ Lloyd Webley, CEO as a not-for-profit Community Interest Company. The Project was created in direct response to the growing number of Black business owners that are failing due to a lack of business acumen or understanding of due diligence requirements. Many have no awareness of services they can access or the free business support that is available to them. The Project’s aim is to provide relevant training in professional development for black-owned businesses in the West Midlands to have greater access to finance and business support. To find out more visit blackpoundsproject.org.

Titan Partnership is an educational charity based in Birmingham. The wider partnership is made up of over thirty nursery, primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, universities and business partners. The needs of the inner city are the main driving force behind the Titan Partnership Ltd. Every member of Titan is committed to combating disadvantage, with a shared belief in the tremendous potential and cultural richness of the inner city. By showing businesses, parents and community groups that the inner city can offer a quality learning experience, Titan is helping to build confidence and strength in the area. For more information visit: titanteachertraining.co.uk.

If you are a practitioner, teacher or researcher interested in the Lightbearers project please email lightpost@birmingham-rep.co.uk for more information.