The immediate future of Autism Youth Theatre in Perth has been secured thanks to funding support from BBC Children in Need.

Horsecross Arts and Perth Autism Support launched a pilot project to establish youth theatre classes for autistic children – the first of its kind in Scotland – in 2012. The weekly drama workshops were an immediate success with 12 children signing up for the first block of sessions and many positive comments and constructive feedback from parents.

The BBC Children in Need funding secures the future of the group which will continue for 2013/2014 with a guaranteed performance showcase at Horsecross Arts Youth Arts Festival in June 2014.

Parent Michael McLean said:

“The Youth Theatre has helped boost our son’s confidence and self-esteem in a group environment where can have fun and be supported; he always leaves having enjoyed himself. For us as parents it’s brilliant to see him as part of a group and coping with social situations; as simple as this sounds, it is a massive deal for a child with autism to cope in this environment and is a huge achievement for the children.”

Autism Youth Theatre participant Matthew Hook aged 10 said:

“Drama is loads of fun and I have made lots of friends from different schools who like the same things as me and who understand me.”

Angie Ferguson, Project Manager from Perth Autism Support said:

“The first Youth Theatre programme in Scotland specifically for children on the autism spectrum, Perth Autism Youth Theatre has already made a significant impact on participants and parents. The children have formed friendships and have increased their confidence. The classes have given the children the opportunity to express themselves in a different way, something which children on the autism spectrum can often find difficult to do, but through encouragement from our Drama Coach, Perth Autism Support staff and volunteers, the children feel safe and secure in their environment.”

Noëlle Cobden, Head of Creative Learning at Horsecross Arts said:

“We are absolutely delighted that the funding received from BBC Children in Need will enable us to develop our Autism Youth Theatre in partnership with Perth Autism Support. The sessions encourage the children to develop their social skills in a fun, informal and creative way. We are so pleased that the group will work towards a final performance/sharing in June 2014 as part of the Horsecross Youth Arts Festival.”

BBC Children in Need funding relies on the energy and commitment of thousands of fundraisers and supporters across the UK who donate their time and money to support the Appeal. Whether it’s cake sales, dance offs or treasure hunts, every penny of the money raised goes towards supporting projects across the UK.

David Ramsden, Chief Executive of BBC Children in Need, said;

“We are delighted to be supporting Autism Youth Theatre in Perth which is only possible due to the incredible generosity of our fundraisers across the UK. You really do help us to make a difference to young lives – thank you!

“All grants go to projects working with children and young people living in the UK who may be affected by homelessness, neglect, abuse or poverty, or those who have faced challenges in their lives such as serious illness, disabilities and psychological disorders.”

The Senior Autism Youth Theatre Group has been shortlisted for the Group Contribution to the Arts Awards in the Perth and Kinross Council Spirit of Youth Awards. Organised by Perth and Kinross Youth Council, supported by the Youth Services team from Perth & Kinross Council the 7th Spirit of Youth Awards recognise and celebrate the volunteering achievements of local young people. The awards take place on the evening of 29 November 2013 at Perth Concert Hall.

For children on the autism spectrum aged five upwards Perth Autism Youth Theatre sessions take place on Monday evenings during term time. To get involved contact Perth Autism Support at 28-30 Market Street, Perth call 01738 451081 or email

For more information contact: Angie Ferguson, Project Manager, Perth Autism Support.