Meet the 14 young people changing the face of Rotherham

14 young people from Rotherham, aged 16-25, have been recruited to help drive Rotherham forward as part of the borough’s ambitious Children’s Capital of Culture 2025 programme.

The next cohort of Children’s Capital of Culture trainees have been announced, and they are now working with three change-making organisations in Rotherham to deliver more public events and help shape the vision for their future hometown, while gaining life-enhancing skills and experience in the creative industries.

Sophie Ellingham, Lottie Howe and Maria Sofragiu have all joined FLUX Rotherham on a one-year contract as Festival Makers. The young team are now hard at work planning a series of creative summer events that will engage young people and marginalised groups in Rotherham, and give them a taster of what becoming Children’s Capital of Culture in 2025 will be like. Experienced creative mentors are working with them to help turn their ideas into reality.

Lottie, 19, is a professional footballer from Rotherham. She said of her traineeship: “I’d recently been made redundant, so when I saw this opportunity it was too good to miss. It’s nice to be given so much creative freedom and to work in a creative environment, where we’re really valued for our opinions and thoughts on what can make Rotherham better for young people like us. I’ve always loved going to festivals, so now getting to organise them is a real eye opener! I can’t wait for everything we’ve got coming up in Rotherham this year.”

Nine trainees have also joined Wentworth Woodhouse on a 14-week training programme, where they are learning advanced digital, photography, film, editing, producing and acting skills in preparation for an immersive House of Future Creatives event at Wentworth on 21st June 2023.

Charity volunteer Brandon heard about this opportunity through a work coach, having been unsuccessful in applying for 20 jobs. He says: “I didn’t believe I could be here! I’m learning so much and I love being part of making Rotherham Children’s Capital of Culture. I’ve found out how much I like being in front of a camera and would love to be a presenter now.”

And following the success of last year’s training programme, three trainees from the 2022 cohort have now been recruited as Engagement Assistants for Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council in 2023, with increased responsibility. Artist Adrian, 20, marketing graduate Christopher, 25, and actress Abi, 20, are all working part-time at the Council to support in spreading the word about Rotherham becoming Children’s Capital of Culture in 2025, delivering participatory workshops and flagship projects to bring more art and culture to the borough.

Christopher explains: “We’re building this Children’s Capital of Culture ambition from the roots up. We’re the young people of Rotherham who really want it for our hometown, and we’re being given free rein to drive the vision forward.”

Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Cllr David Sheppard, adds: “The ultimate goal of Children’s Capital of Culture is to support more children and young people across the borough to create a bolder, more ambitious and creative future for themselves, increasing overall pride and aspiration in our borough and nurturing a skilled young workforce that can make a real difference to Rotherham’s future.

“These are well-paid, sustainable, supported roles, paid above the Real Living Wage. It’s fantastic to have these young change-makers on board, sharing their incredible ideas, working with more communities to celebrate the talent and diversity of Rotherham, and giving them real skills and experience that will ultimately improve their life outcomes. They are an asset to our team, and their borough.”

The paid training programme has been made possible thanks to funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Published: 12th May 2023