Loren Henry co-founded Urban Circle Productions and G-Expressions, both not-for-profit arts organisations based in Newport. Following a change in the law which required her to be degree-qualified, Loren enrolled on the BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work degree and later went on to study MA Working with Children and Young People (Initial Youth Work Qualifying).
“In 2006, I set up Urban Circle Productions with a few of my friends. We wanted to help young people in the local community, engaging and empowering them through the arts. We started off in an internet cafe, and now we have our own offices in Newport YMCA and are one of the biggest youth initiatives outside of council-led projects in South Wales.
We quickly recognised a demand for dance amongst young people in Newport, so founded G-Expressions, a dance project where young people can showcase their dance talents and even train as dance teachers. G-Expressions have performed at various events and festivals in Newport and South Wales, as well as organising our own events.
When in 2010, new legislation came into force which required someone from the organisation to be degree qualified, we draw straws to see who would go to University. I drew the ‘short’ straw so enrolled onto USW’s Youth and Community degree. Looking back, I now know I was the lucky one that day drawing straws! I’ve learnt so much through the course and really enjoyed it at the same time - so much so, once I’d graduated I also enrolled onto the Masters Working with Children and Young People.
Whilst I’d been working in the charity sector for years when I started my studies, the theory I learnt on the degree has really helped to shape the organisation to the high standard it needs to be. I’m truly grateful to the tutors, particularly Kate Haywood, Mick Conroy and Emma Chivers, for the support and inspiration they’ve provided. Following the degree, the Masters course helped further develop the practical elements of the organisation. Understanding the policies, processes and systems that need to be in place, as well as evidencing project outcomes and successes has not only helped us secure more funding, but ultimately improved the work we do as an organisation.
I feel like my time at USW has enabled me to be the best I can be – something I’m extremely grateful for. My studies have undoubtably contributed to the success and growth of the company, which over the years has gone from strength to strength."