Head Held High: Free comedy workshop for young people in July

A picture from last year's Head Held High comedy course, which returns on July 22. Picture: Tash Ale

A picture from last year's Head Held High comedy course, which returns on July 22. Picture: Tash Alexander. - Credit: Archant

Next month, Head Held High will run a free comedy programme for young people in Islington.

Tash Alexander is the founder of Islington-based Head Held High.

Tash Alexander is the founder of Islington-based Head Held High. - Credit: Archant

Founder Tash Alexander wants to "find the funny" and help build individuals self-esteem, inner confidence and valuable life skills through the art of stand up comedy.

Head Held High is into its sixth year now, and as well as running Stand Up For Yourself, Tash is also devoted to motivating young people who may be struggling in confidence or focus at school, displaying challenging behaviour or slipping into the wrong crowd.

She's seeking to take her work London-wide, but for now Head Held High is at its strongest in Islington.

The latest batch of young people to benefit from the programme will pass through in July, as she runs a free, week-long comedy workshop at Platform Youth Hub.

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"It gives people confidence through comedy," says Tash - who is a comedian, writer and actor in her own right.

"Stand Up For Yourself encourages you to express yourself; even if you want to focus on what really makes you angry, we will find the comedy in it.

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"We will get together on Monday (July 22), and over the week you will be learning about presentation skills, assertive behaviour, how to write a joke, self expression and microphone techniques, ending in a live five-minute performance.

"It can get quite intense, but it's such an achievement at the end of the week. It teaches our people about achieving a goal."

Tash works closely with local schools, youth offending teams and pupil referral units in the borough as she runs group workshops and one-to-one sessions.

While Stand Up For Yourself is more creative and expressive in its nature, other Head Held High workshops offer CV support, career advice and help finding work placements.

Head Held High has also struck up an effective partnership with the Ben Kinsella Trust - a charity fronting up to knife crime after the tragic death of schoolboy Ben, in Islington, back in 2008.

"The Trust brings the whole area of anti-knife crime in to it," says Tash. "They show the impact it has on the families; hitting to the core with the reality and the facts of knife crime, helping young people open their eyes and take responsibility.

"The tour has an extremely positive impact on young people helping them stick on the right path. Together we motivate them to move their lives forward."

Tash says the best part of her job is "that moment where you see the change.

"Where they break through the bravado and actually come out of their comfort zone, then try something new and feel challenged. It's seeing the true 14 or 15-year-old behind the big man or big woman front."

Stand Up For Yourself, July 22-26 at Platform Youth Hub, Tiltman Place. For more information, click here.

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