25 January 2023

Liverpool’s eighth children’s mental health NOW Festival

Children and young people across Merseyside came together to perform in the city’s eighth annual NOW Festival during Children’s Mental Health Week.

Organised and directed by Merseyside Youth Association’s (MYA) mental health promotion team, in partnership with the Merseyside Violence Prevention Partnership and Liverpool Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), the festival took place over three nights at the Epstein Theatre.

Hundreds of children and young people from over twenty schools and youth organisations across the region will deliver a range of dramatic performances, exploring the theme of ‘Mental health and violence prevention’.

Speaking about the festival’s theme, Damian Hart, MYA’s principal development manager, explains: “This festival continues to go from strength to strength each year. Throughout the 2022 festival, many groups chose to focus on violence, exploring what needs to change to bounce forwards. Pieces ranged from racism, homophobic abuse, sexual harassment, child criminal exploitation and bullying.

“This year’s festival showcased a mixture of drama, dance, musical theatre and film covering issues related to mental health and preventing violence.”

The NOW festival focuses heavily on youth engagement, with the planning process beginning early in the academic year. Participants have received support and mentoring workshops delivered by the NOW Festival team, with the initial workshop exploring the theme.

Detective Superintendent Siobhan Russell, Head of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership, said: “As a multi-agency partnership working collaboratively to reduce and prevent youth violence, we are delighted to support NOW Fest 2023. This is just one of the ways in which we are working with children and young people to change the narrative and social norms of violence in our communities.

Young people are at the heart of everything we do, so rest assured, we listening to their statements from each of the performances, as well as (I am certain) marvelling at their artistic talents.”

Pics: Dave Brownlee Photography