Young refugees and asylum seekers in Coventry are to be given free lessons in clowning.

Circus and clowning workshops, aimed at boosting the confidence and social skills of refugees aged 12-25, will be offered by the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.

The seven-week course will be taught by professional circus performers, and is expected to cost the theatre, which is partly funded by the city council, about #1,400.

Justine Themen, the Belgrade Theatre’s assistant director for community and education, said: "Clowning is very British and we want to use it to raise the confidence and social skills of these people.

"Some may be in the country because they are escaping persecution. The workshops will be funny and will take people’s minds off what might be a depressing reality. As well as having fun, the participants will build up language skills which will be a major help for them. It is about learning by stealth."