The key to healthy relationships? It starts at school

Tender Ambassador Jodie Whittaker visits Valentine’s Tender workshop

As we celebrate romance this Valentine’s Day, Tender is calling for all young people to have access to creative education to empower them with the skills to build healthy relationships.

At a special event attended by Doctor Who star and Tender Ambassador Jodie Whittaker, Tender demonstrated how creative practice from theatre and the arts can support young people to learn about healthy relationships and prevent violence and abuse.

Hosted by Mulberry Academy Woodside, a secondary school in Wood Green with a mission to provide exceptional education and experiences to every child, every day, the workshop offered a taster of Tender’s secondary school programmes, currently in action throughout the UK.

With Jodie’s help, Tender’s expert facilitators guided Year 9 students through a series of activities to unlock their creativity while embedding positive attitudes and behaviours.

Young people at risk of abuse

Young people aged 16 – 24 are at highest risk of experiencing abuse from a romantic partner (ONS, 2022). Although Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) is now compulsory in all UK schools, research suggests young people aren’t yet equipped with the understanding to recognise abuse and/or seek support.*

Harnessing the power of drama and the arts, Tender workshops create a safe, inclusive space for exploration and rehearsal. Young people learn about empathy and consent through a wide range of activities incorporating theatre, film and art. Highly trained facilitators support young people to understand different forms of abuse in friendships and romantic relationships, and how to seek help for themselves and their peers.

Jodie Whittaker, Tender Ambassador, says: ‘I was thrilled to attend Tender’s workshop today and see firsthand the positive impact they have on young people.

‘Relationships can be wonderful – but they can also leave us vulnerable to abuse – emotional, physical, financial/economic. Tender’s approach gives young people a creative, safe and supportive place to explore these issues and learn what healthy, happy relationships really look like.

‘Tender prevents abuse before it starts, helping us build a healthy, loving future.’

Susie McDonald, CEO of Tender, says: ‘Far too many young people are growing up unable to recognise abuse – in their own behaviour as well as their partners’.   

‘Tender’s arts-based approach engages students in new and innovative ways.  Developed with young people from all backgrounds, our workshops empower them to go into the world with the skills and understanding to have joyous romantic relationships – and happy Valentine’s Days for many years to come.’

*A 2022 report by SafeLives found that, even with the new RSHE curriculum, only 46% of students felt confident about who to talk to if they or someone they know is experiencing abuse. Just 24% of young people could recall being taught about coercive control in RSHE classes and only 13% believed this topic was taught well.

Meanwhile, in 2021, an Ofsted review revealed that ‘sexual harassment occurs so frequently [in young people’s lives] that it has become ‘commonplace’. Campaigns such as Everyone’s Invited have published more than 50,000 anonymous accounts of sexual violence at UK educational settings. A 2022 poll by the NASUWT teachers’ union of 1,500 female members found 58% had experienced misogyny from pupils.

Media information

Susie McDonald, CEO of Tender, is available for interview. For media enquiries and interview requests about Tender, please contact (Mon-Wed) / (Thurs-Fri.)

For enquiries about Jodie Whittaker, please contact

For enquiries regarding Mulberry Academy Woodside, please contact

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