A DANCE troupe which aims to offer youngsters a chance to socialise as well as keep fit and healthy is making its mark in Bury.
Jodie Kinsey, who lives in Chesham, has run the Utopia UK dance group for 10 years in Blackley and Moston, and now holds weekly sessions at the Vibe Personal Training Studios in Brook Street.
She says the class, which already has about 10 members in Bury, aims to provide a chance for youngsters to come together and keep them off the streets, as well as get involved in their street and urban dance classes.
Miss Kinsey, aged 30, said: “You get a lot of children who wouldn’t even think about dancing, but when they see the type of thing we do, they are quite intrigued.
“As well as the dance classes, we offer pastoral care. We know that teenagers can go through a lot of problems but if they want to speak to someone who isn’t their parents or a teacher, I am there, almost as a second mother.”
Miss Kinsey, who is originally from Moston, started to teach youngsters how to dance at the age of 13, after her teachers recognised her skills from an early age.
She danced at a professional level, and went on to study dance at The Manchester College and Salford University, while developing the dance group as a business.
She says her upbringing had an influence on her setting up the group, and giving opportunities to children from families who may not be particularly well-off.
Miss Kinsey added: “I come from a family with eight brothers and sisters, and my mum couldn’t afford to send one of us, never mind all of us, so we hope to attract siblings as well.”
Her group was featured in the BBC Three documentary People Like Us, which followed life on an estate in Harpurhey.
The show was criticised by MPs and members of the community for focusing on crime, drugs and disorder, but Miss Kinsey says her involvement was beneficial, and showed positive things can be achieved.
She added: “There was quite a negative perception around that programme, but we got a lot of good feedback.
"It shows that you can come from an area which is regarded as less well-off, and still achieve something, and you don’t have to be out of work and claiming benefits.”
The group meets every Monday at 5pm, with the classes costing £18 a month with discounts. Information at utopiauk.co.uk