Teesside-based autism charity Daisy Chain has launched a new initiative, supported by BBC Children in Need, to help nurture the hidden talents of its service users.

The Rising Stars project provides engaging performing arts-based groups for autistic children and young people with an interest in three key areas of performing arts: movement, drama and sounds.

Funded by BBC Children in Need’s Next Steps Fund, the free-to-access club is open to children aged 4-18, with separate age-based groups within the weekly sessions. State-of-the-art equipment has been purchased and drama professionals have joined the Rising Stars team to support the budding young actors, videographers, dancers and performers.

The new programme, which runs until June 2022, aims to help the participants to build their self-confidence as well as reducing the loneliness and isolation caused by the pandemic.

Daisy Chain will produce a showreel to showcase the talents of everyone who participated in the project and host a festival at the Daisy Chain site.

BBC Children in Need’s Next Steps Fund was introduced to provide resources to organisations to help support children and young adults with building confidence and reintegrating into society following the coronavirus pandemic.

Jennifer Hewitt, head of children & family services at Daisy Chain, said: “The Rising Stars Project is a really exciting addition to our activities timetable, and offers children and young people the chance to explore their hidden talents.

“We are offering fun and engaging performing arts sessions, where service users can develop their on-stage or behind-the-scenes skills. The project aims to cover all aspects of performing arts and offer step-by-step support to the participants to allow them to develop their confidence and their passions.

“We can also offer virtual sessions, meaning we can engage with children and young adults across the country. We have invested in professional equipment and welcomed staff who are specialists in their field all thanks to the support we have received from Children in Need.”

For more information on the Rising Stars project, or to secure your place, please visit: https://www.daisychainproject.co.uk/stars.