Thursday, 5 September 2013

remapping St Ives, Shallal 2 and ....thoughts
updated website with video of the project launch from St Ives TV! from Jo Mayes who is leading this project. 
This project is looking at physical access for people with mobility issues in St Ives.

Physical access is a huge issue and anyone who has any experience in it knows the frustration/sorrow at not being able to go where you would wish. Our society is fairly unempathic to it. I was so impressed when travelling in America 30 years ago that the modern public buildings were all ramped and physically accessible. I know many of our beautiful old buildings can be hard to adapt, but still often so much can be done. The town hall in St Ives has been adapted.
The interesting conversation this project has raised within Shallal main company members is that of the less visible, more hidden issues/challenges/disabilities, the invisible ones. ( also by our nature and ethos we don't publicly use labels for people and we only use them to describe support needs but then rarely, we are just all people living with different struggles.) Currently in Shallal we have a wealth of experience, amongst those who work with us are: people with physical challenges since birth, from an accident and from a chronic health condition. 2 People who do training in disability awareness, one who also does inclusion training and currently is working with people with dementia.
It's no use going on a day out unless there is an accessible toilet nearby. Many people have mobility issues but aren't always in a wheelchair, ie: they can only walk a short distance. One person in Shallal has pulled out of the work in St Ives as she finds the uneven surfaces too difficult. Many people in Shallal have personnal experience of unseen disabilities, chronic health problems, additional needs. Physical challenges is 14% of the population who struggle with disability! an amazing statistic!
So we applaud the move to improve access, but signage and all sorts of other issues are involved to make society really accessible and inclusive. Physical challenges is the important tip of the iceberg and leads onto looking at what can't be seen. It is easier for people to start to relate to, Jo Mayes became aware of the difficulty in St Ives through pushing a buggy around, some of us break a leg, have restricted mobility for a while, which can help to increase our empathy.
The people with needs are the experts, they know what they need. They are the experts and real conversations are whats needed every time and real changes to create equal opportunities. Change starts with ourselves and if we can be open and learn that is a beginning. Everyone I work with is new to me each time I learn from them: what they can give, what they struggle with, what they need. Somewhere like St Ives can never be fully physically accessible, but the will to try, to help to make all the changes possible, to meet people with respect and openness and to value their dignity and rights.

It was a pleasure to be back at work in Friends and Dancing and Shallal 2 on Wednesday, the standard of work was breathtaking at times, i am so impressed with them and their creativity, sense of fun and commitment.
Both groups are awaiting funding but that is their only vulnerability, so this term I am developing tenacity! People come, they enjoy the work, each others company, it needs to continue. So please support our fundraisers this term.

Whilst looking for our birthday card images, (a tradition that started when most of our photographs were not available online), so a card was designed with photographs from recent performances on. I came across these from Shallal 2, often my memory of the session/performance is so strong I am disappointed not to capture it on film and so leave the photographs, but with time they have their own record and
some of Shallal 2 playing with costumes to be used in the pop ups in St Ives!
                 With thanks to Truro Museum,who have kindly lent us these costumes!

Shallal 2 don't as yet have a portfolio of photographs like the main company, but one week I tried to capture their zany humour and fantastic relationships, they can work with real integrity as a team, and are able to work alone and in relationship and move between the two, each person working to their personnal best, and being inspired by each other in the moment.

There is a long "To Do" list today: will the sedan chair work? will the lines come forth and be presented in a way which fits? will the hats be finished? etc
Next week we rehearse around St Ives?!

 Also much love to Debs (and bump) who is taking an early break from the company.

so I now must go to rummage through my desk and stop blogging to avoid work, "work to avoid work"

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