Wednesday, 5 October 2011

                                                               Friends and Dancing
though we had many people away this week - we often number 24 ! -
I had the camera with me and wanted to try and capture some moments from this group.
There is a strong core of people from the beginning of the group over a year ago and many new faces as well.
For many people it is one of the highlights of their week - I always look forward to it.


I was moved by some of the comments this week;
"It's a safe space."
"It's something to do I don't want to be stuck at home on my own, I want to get out to see people, make friends."


Two of the women are meeting today so one can show the other how to get to the Thursday group by bus, and then find it as it's up on Tremough Campus!


The group has raised money through it's Sponsored Dance to help it to keep going this term, and as ever we await funding!
While looking around this morning to see who funds positive social inclusion came across:  


"....the most convincing voices supporting the positive impacts of the projects come from the participants themselves who referred to gaining skills and increasing confidence through participation in arts projects."


Not just a treat: Arts and Social Inclusion        
A report to the Scottish Arts Council by Glasgow University
 www.scrsj.ac.uk/media/media_7761_en.pdf


It is unbelievably tiring to keep convincing people when the work has worked for over 20 years, when the need is there, when it's been shown to work, when you have to spend hours searching for money, when you could be doing the work and more: developing it, planting it in new areas, helping new people join in.
I end up concentrating more on images in this blog but, there is so much to say in support of the work. I'm not possibly the one to say it and have never wanted to shout about the work, feeling it speaks for itself and it's the artists voices that need to be heard and society is the richer for hearing all our voices.
 But I am upset, angry about how after all these years there are still so few places that enable positive inclusion, where people can go, feel safe, feel it's aimed for them but includes and attracts others who want to share and work with them, where there is a mutuality and respect, where they are often the most talented people there, not always on the receiving end but able to fully contribute at their level and give back.


How would you feel if most of your life you could only just follow what was going on? being said around you: exhausted, under confident, lonely? I definitely felt a small amount of that the other day when asked a maths question in a large group my mind went blank, I would have needed a lot of time, quiet support and slow explanations to cope, this was not available and I just left and cried! 
Many people with learning disabilities have developed a good front to protect their vulnerability. The language of gesture, (movement, dance - and music)  is a shared language which we all read, but  which many people with learning disabilities are more sophisticated and at home with than other people. This a shared and equal world and naturally calls forth the right support from others and enables decision making and choice. We no longer have huge institutions but we can still have lives with little choice or creativity or opportunity, or positive meeting places. 


PS
Part of my early career was spent at Budock Hospital and I still remember those I worked with there very fondly, every morning that I would walk in to the bottom corridor I would wish someone would blow it up! 
(www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/jul/05/longtermcare.guardiansocietysupplement2)
It is no longer there. 
Now what I wish is to see other things growing and flowering in the community. My children are growing up not having seen the oppression of big institutions but they need to see positive role models, so that can never happen again.

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