Hugh Dennis Supports Shakespeare Schools Foundation's Big Give Christmas Challenge Appeal

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Hugh Dennis Supports Shakespeare Schools Foundation's Big Give Christmas Challenge Appeal

Shakespeare Schools Foundation (SSF) is taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge, from 3rd - 10th December, with a campaign fronted by comedian and actor Hugh Dennis, a Patron of the charity. All donations made during this week will help SSF empower more children from disadvantaged backgrounds with the confidence they need to succeed.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge is a match-fundraising appeal, meaning that any donations made to the charity during this time will be doubled.

SSF will then be able to give more children from disadvantaged areas the thrilling experience of performing on a professional stage in front of an audience, as part of the charity's flagship project - Shakespeare Schools Festival.

Hugh Dennis says, "Shakespeare Schools Foundation helps children right across the UK to find their own voice and gain the confidence they need for life. Their work makes children more resilient, better problem solvers and better team players, all while having an experience they'll remember forever."

A video fronted by Hugh Dennis explaining SSF's work is available to watch on the charity's website at

SSF has set an ambitious target of raising £60,000 through the Big Give Christmas Challenge to support its work in 2020, when the charity celebrates its 20th anniversary year of helping young people gain the confidence and resilience they need to tackle whatever challenges life holds.
Donations to the charity will transform young lives in places like inner-city Birmingham, an area of the UK with one of the highest levels of disadvantage.

Kabeera, 14, took part in Shakespeare Schools Festival 2019. She said, "We decided to set Othello where we live in Birmingham. We wanted to present the story in a way that is relevant to us. It's helped us face up to the reality of gang violence, and it shows the world what is happening to us. I think drama is so important. It enables everyone to be themselves and not hide."

Shakespeare Schools Foundation works with every type of school, including primary, secondary, special schools and Pupil Referral Units, in every nation and region of the UK. In 2019, over a third of the schools the charity worked with were in the top 30% of most deprived areas of the UK.

With match funding, a donation of £30 becomes £60, which could give one young person from a disadvantaged area the opportunity to take part in our 2020 Festival. A donation of £120 becomes £240, which could help a school in one of the UK's most disadvantaged areas take part in our 2020 Festival. A donation of £600 becomes £1200 - supporting a whole night of performances during the 2020 Festival.

Last year, the charity won first place in the Big Give Christmas Challenge Awards following a successful appeal. This year, SSF aims to build on that success enabling many more lives to be transformed.

Ruth Brock, Chief Executive of Shakespeare Schools Foundation said: "As a charity, we are dedicated to providing a unique cultural experience to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity. With schools facing acute financial pressures, your support will enable us to ensure more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to the arts and their life changing impact."

To find out how you can make a donation, visit from 3rd-10th December.

Key information about Shakespeare Schools Foundation (SSF)

  • Shakespeare Schools Foundation is an award-winning cultural education charity that gives young people across the UK the confidence and skills they need to succeed.
  • In 2019, over 20,000 young people from over 750 schools performed abridged Shakespeare plays in 118 professional arts venues around the UK as part of Shakespeare Schools Festival. This is the world's largest youth drama festival.
  • The Festival started at the Torch Theatre in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with only 8 schools. Since 2000, SSF has worked with around 300,000 young people from primary, secondary and special schools and Pupil Referral Units.
  • SSF is deeply committed to reaching young people living in disadvantaged areas. In 2019, over a third of schools the charity is working with are situated in the top 30% of most deprived areas of the UK.
  • According to the Cultural Learning Alliance's 'Imagine Nation' report, 2017:
    - students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree
    - employability of students who study arts subjects is higher and they are more likely to stay in employment
    - students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school are twice as likely to volunteer
  • The charity has won the following awards:
    Praemium Imperiale's 2018 Grant for Young Artists (a major global art prize which recognises outstanding contribution to the arts for young people); Educational Resource Provider of the Year at the 2018 Education Awards; 2018 Big Give Christmas Challenge Award; 'Best Donor Love' at the Management Centre's Emcee Awards for its 2017 Christmas card campaign.
  • Taking part in the Festival promotes life skills. Following the 2018 Festival:
    - 98% of teachers said that their students were more confident
    - 97% said students were able to work more effectively as a team
    - 95% of teachers said students were better able to empathise with each other
  • It also promotes academic attainment. Following the 2018 Festival:
    - 82% of teachers reported an improvement in students' academic attainment,
    - 83% said students improved their attainment in English.
  • Find out more about Shakespeare Schools Foundation at:
    Twitter: @SSF_UK
    Facebook: @ShakespeareSchoolsFestival


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