30. April 2024

5,000 young people participated in innovative drama and creative learning programmes

Since 2022, Kavli Trust has been a key supporter of Mortal Fools, funding creative, innovative youth empowerment programmes that so far have benefited over 5,000 young individuals with complex lives and neurodiversity.

“The children’s energy is infectious. They love what they are doing and are proud of themselves. The focus on wellbeing and mental health clearly has an enormous positive impact on these children.”

This is a comment from a teacher from Highfield Middle School, one of many voices praising the work of Mortal Fools in its latest impact report.

“One in six have a mental health condition”

It is estimated that at least one in six children aged 7—16 are likely to have a diagnosable mental health condition in the UK (Digital Report NHS England UK – Mental health of children and young people in England, 2022).

That’s an average of five children per classroom. It has never been more important to find new ways to support young people’s mental wellbeing from an early age. Theatre company Mortal Fools is doing just that.

Mortal Fools is a Northeast England drama and creative learning company supporting children and young people (7–25 years).

Their programmes help young people with complex lives and neurodiversity develop leadership, confidence, and socio-emotional skills.

FUTURE READY: Through drama, creative, and youth leadership projects Mortal Fools are engaging, enabling, and empowering young people with specialist educational needs and disabilities to make positive behavioural changes. Image from a participant school in November 2023. Photo: Magic Fools
ENGAGING: Participants at the Future Ready Programme, November 2023. Photo: Magic Fools

5,000 young people benefited

Kavli Trust has supported Mortal Fools since 2022.

The funding of 200 000 euro from 2022–2024 is used to develop Mortal Fools’ programme of Creative Interventions in Northumberland schools and youth settings.

The funding also contributes to the national network and expansion of MELVA Digital in the UK. Mortal Fools estimates that approximately 5,000 young people have benefited via the Kavli funding so far.

“Our collaboration with Kavli Trust has significantly enhanced how we can support children and young people’s mental health through the arts and creativity,”says CEO and Artistic Director of Mortal Fools, Kiz Crosbie.

Develops confidence and emotional skills

Each creative intervention helps young people to make sense of the world around them, find their voice, develop self-management tools and life skills whilst supporting wellbeing.

Mortal Fools Creative Intervention projects use devised creative and performance-based content as a vehicle to develop confidence, aspirations, and social and emotional skills in young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Each intervention helps young people make sense of the world around them, find their voice, develop self-management tools and life skills, and supports their overall wellbeing.

Story telling programme

MELVA is a mental health education through storytelling programme, focusing on early intervention for children aged 7—11. It focuses on teaching children the basic skills and understanding they need to keep themselves well, whatever challenges they might face in the future.

“Evidence demonstrates that our projects boost the mental health and wellbeing of our young participants,” says Communications and Audience Development Manager at Mortal Fools, Rachel Horton.

ENGAGED TEACHERS: Over 50 teachers from schools across the North joined Mortal Fools’ MELVA Teacher CPD day for a full day of training, facilitated conversations about wellbeing in schools and classrooms, meaningful networking, practical creative activities, and sharing practice. Photo: Mortal Fools

“Supported more young people than ever”

Across April 2022–April 2023, Mortal Fools engaged with 1,316 young individuals, delivering programmes and projects for young people, providing a safe creative outlet, and supporting wellbeing.

“We’ve supported more young people with intersectional needs than ever before and developed specialist practice to support these complex needs and to achieve equity of opportunity”, adds Horton.

“Proud and impressed”

Grant Manager for UK at Kavli Trust, Rune Mørland, comments that Kavli is proud to support the continued expansion of MELVA to new schools in the region.

“It is important for Kavli Trust that children are resilient and have the best possible tools to manage different challenges in life. However, it’s also important for us that all children are included, seen and heard.”

“We are impressed by how Mortal Fools incorporate these goals, developing confidence and emotional skills in children through the MELVA programme,” adds Mørland.

VISIT: Projects Producer at Mortal Fools, Zoe Anderson, Creative Producer Helen Anderson, Grant manager at Kavli Trust, Rune Mørland and Brand Manager at Kavli UK, Gareth Watson. Kavli Trust visited Mortal Fools in May 2023, learning more about their work and what the support from Kavli Trust has contributed to. Photo: Hanne Eide Andersen/Kavli Trust

Alert! Digital showcase 16 May

On 16 May 2024, at 10am, Mortal Fools invites teachers, educators and potential commissioners to a digital showcase of MELVA. The showcase will walk participants through the MELVA invention, lesson plans, teacher resources, extension bank of activities and an evaluation framework.

Mortal Fools will also share school case studies, impact data, how it’s been used in SEND settings and the new for academic year 24/25 – intervention for Year 6 focusing on transitions.

ADRESSING MENTAL HEALTH: The Melva programme has been designed with teachers, parents, mental health professionals and young people. Its purpose is to support children and the adults in their lives to talk openly about, and better understand, their mental health, emotional development, resilience and wellbeing. Photo: Mortal Fools


This is Mortal Fools:

  • Mortal Fools uses drama and theatre-based approaches to support people to develop their own skills and to improve the quality of interpersonal relationships.
  • They work with self-presence, self-confidence, emotional maturity, communication, empathy, teamwork, resilience, respect, and accountability.
  • The organisation has developed its own educational programmes and digital tools that are used by schools and institutions.
  • Kiz Crosbie, who has a background as a theatre director, established Mortal Fools in 2012. She leads the organisation with a team of 13 employees.

With funding from Kavli Trust:

  • 3 times the number of schools with MELVA licences now, compared to the first year of funding;
  • 76 young people have achieved an Arts Award qualification through the Creative Intervention model;
  • 120 teachers and professionals participating in training (via MELVA Teacher CPD and the PERMA wellbeing toolkit training).

Read more:
Visit Mortal Fool’s website
Supporting wellbeing and self-belief with creative learning and theatre

Follow Mortal Fools in social media:

Instagram @mortalfoolsuk