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Laughter is the best medicine: NHS England to fund   The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival 2022

2nd September 2021 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in

The NHS and the UK Kids’ Comedy Festival 2022 are out to prove that laughter is the best medicine for the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

NHS England has confirmed funding for The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival 2022, being produced by registered charity Big Difference. The Festival, which will take place in February 2022 aims to improve the health and wellbeing of young people by engaging them in a range of comedy and humorous activities.  The Festival, which was set up in 2019 alongside Leicester Comedy Festival, will be funded via the three Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Groups (the LLR CCGs).   Further information about the festival can be found by visiting www.ukkidscomedyfestival.co.uk/

Various venues host performances, workshops and other activities as part of the festival, and the funding will help expand the programme for 2022.  Over the last 3 years the festival has worked with schools, community venues, libraries as well as shopping centres and public spaces to put on events which have attracted thousands of young people.  A highlight of the programme has been the Loving Laughing project which aims to teach young school children how to write and perform their own jokes and comedy sketches.  They perform live on stage at The Y theatre with one school being voted as the Funniest School in Leicestershire.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, and the considerable lockdown period, staff at the CCGs have engaged with, and listened to, young people via the Leicestershire Partnership Trust’s Youth Advisory Board and a wide Coronavirus Health and Wellbeing Conversation for Young People.  A key message that came from the young people was around the monotony of lockdown and that online education had removed the spontaneity and fun from life.  The young people felt that laughter and comedy had been removed from their lives and there was also a strong collective feeling of having nothing to look forward to.  A comedy festival, aimed at engaging young people, is therefore a useful contribution to the local recovery plan for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Geoff Rowe, Founding Director of The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be working closely with local colleagues from NHS England on the planning for next year’s festival.  We have known for some time that getting involved in comedy, humour and laughter can be really powerful for so many people, especially children and young people who have had a pretty rough time over recent months. This new funding will enable us to extend what we do, allow for more young people to benefit from the festival, and hopefully broaden the grin even further across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”

Rachna Vyas, Executive Director of Integration and Transformation from LLR CCGs said: “We have all heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine, it’s fun to share a good laugh, it brings people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Humour lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

“As children, we tend to laugh hundreds of times a day, but the impact of Covid has meant that life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent, The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival will seek out more opportunities for humour and laughter, improving the emotional health and wellbeing of our young population.”

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