Little Voices franchise
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A TEACHER and mum-of-three has made it her mission to help improve children’s wellbeing by introducing them to the world of performing arts. Laura Hanlon began a new Little Voices franchise in Bolton at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, running drama and singing lessons for children aged four to 18.

 
With venues due to reopen in April, the primary school teacher wants to spread the message and help as many children as possible after what has been ‘a difficult year for young people’.

In aid of supporting young people who may be struggling with their mental health as a result of Covid-19, Laura and her team have kept children engaged during lockdown with free video workshops and weekly lessons.

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Laura, 33, who lives in Lostock, bought the Bolton franchise in April 2020 during the first national lockdown but has been determined to help it grow. She also runs the Bury franchise of the national performing arts training organisation.

She said: “At first it was a really stressful time as I tried to get my head around taking over a new business and growing it, as well as taking our lessons online.

“It was so important for our pupils to still have structure and normality in a confusing time in their lives.

“I met most of my pupils for the first time while we were online. Every time we went back into venue following a lockdown, more pupils joined and amazingly we are going from strength to strength.”

Founded in Blackburn in 2007, Little Voices grew nationally, with more than 50 franchises dotted across the UK, from Bolton to London.

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The group prides itself in having small classes and putting students through their London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) exams.

Laura added: “I wasn’t going to be defeated as I knew I had such a strong support network of fellow principals around me and parents who were calling out for some positivity and fun in their children’s lives.

“Performing arts is perfect for this as it really boosts children’s wellbeing – allowing them to believe they can do it. I love watching their confidence grow.

“I have spent most of this year seeing my pupils through a computer screen and there is now a real buzz that we are heading out of this and we will be back into our venues finally.”

Laura has big hopes for the future, with plans to put pupils through their LAMDA exams soon while welcoming more youngsters.

By Sam Ormiston

Source: The Bolton News

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