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Young People’s Leadership

Shireenah Ingram How positivity, recognition and praise helped Shireenah Ingram not only find her right career path, but grow as a person to help others too! “I’ve always been confident but recognise now (with my new UFA-found maturity), that perhaps I showed it in the wrong way before. I’d definitely say I’m more focused and considerate, and that comes from having good role models with the adults at the UFA.


love the UFA’s approach. The adults show you how to do things, lead by example, then leave the groups of young people to work on their tasks themselves. You’re facilitated and overseen, but that’s the extent of it. They let you work things out for yourself, praising the things that are done well and then reinforcing the learning at the end of every session. It’s so different from school, where they were quick to point out what you did wrong, rather than right. I think praise is important, in the right places. The UFA strikes a great balance. They don’t lavish it on, but they show you how to do something in the best way, and then let you know when you’ve done a good job. It’s a great way to build self-esteem.

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Shireenah Ingram Highlights I grew up wanting to be an actress, so getting involved with the UFA was a great opportunity. It started in 2002 with a Summer Challenge (a group project that lasts a week or two, which aims to produce or do something challenging and worthwhile). This led to further Summer Challenges – 2005 was a turning point as it was based around media. I thought getting to work behind and in front of a camera would be very valuable to my ambitions, and it was - we even got to work with Maverick TV. The UFA have worked hard to make good connections with useful organisations and it’s very beneficial.

Young People’s Leadership

Praise Be!

The next steps “I learnt about communication – and how to talk to people encouragingly” says Shireenah

YoUFA I’m now a YoUFA rep – actively involved in planning our next YoUFiestA, a governmentfunded celebration of learning that we’ll hold in Birmingham for hundreds of young people from around the country.




t the end of 2006 I got the opportunity to train as a Peer Tutor (where you assist others in group activities, helping to run the activites and learning from them). Mostly this is done in after school or weekend clubs. All the members come along to have fun, work in teams and learn to learn in different ways. From running the interactive games and exercises, I learnt about communication – and how to talk to people encouragingly. You can have a real impact on people this way. I also learnt about the different ways of working – some people respond better to auditory instructions. Others prefer visual, or kinaesthetic (touch). I try and incorporate a bit of all of them now when I’m speaking or teaching.


ctually, I’d say that every day I use the vast raft of skills the UFA has taught me. We all do – after so much involvement it becomes second nature. It’s a real advantage to be involved with the UFA. As you get older, doors tend to close, so I’d say to anyone to get involved – especially as it’s all free!

What I’ve learnt at the UFA has made me more charismatic and helped when I went for my first audition recently. I ended up getting a part with a London-based theatre company, in the chorus. I’m now getting ready to move to London for my career. Thanks to the UFA and all they’ve taught me, I’m on my way.

Says Shireenah

Summer 2007s Summer Challenge was especially helpful. Called Murder At The Rep, this was a piece of promenade theatre – literally theatre performed while walking around as the audience (our parents and friends) followed. It was a great experience – calling on everything I’d ever learnt in the UFA.


then went on to college for two years to do a BTEC in Performing Arts, but have stayed actively involved in the UFA too. A recent circus skills Summer Challenge was really valuable. From things like unicycling and juggling it taught me the power of perseverance – another valuable tool to add to my life-skills.

Young People’s Leadership

Shireenah Ingram A2-1010-CSL/SI

Shireenah's UFA Journey