Open Minds Theatre Company

Life Act

Life Act: A Sustainable group for adults with learning and physical disabilities developing skills for life, training for work and a secure place to learn.

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  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing


  • Older PeopleOlder People
  • Women & GirlsWomen & Girls
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)
  • OtherOther



There is a real need for this project and we would appreciate your support. We think we have covered all aspects of the project below including beneficiary need, outcomes and measurement. DETAILED PROJECT DESCRIPTION WHO- This project is aimed at adults with medium to severe learning and physical disabilities from the age of 18 upwards. The group will hold 14 participants plus 2 trainee volunteers. WHEN/WHERE- The sessions will run every Tuesday from 10.00-14.00 at the Unity Centre, Rotherham WHAT- This project has three main aims; TRAINEES- To train two volunteers with a disability to become project managers and facilitators for the group enabling it to continue beyond the funding. We would like the two trainees to become a permanent part of Open Minds Theatre Company (OMTC) and for the group to be continuous and stable far into the future. PARTICIPANTS- To train the 16 participants to devise and deliver a workshop. This will be taught through a specially designed programme which will include both the social and group skills needed for the role along with acting and presentation training. Ultimately we hope that this will mean more employment for those with a disability. PRODUCT- By the end of year one, we will have created the workshop and it will have been given, In-kind to 5 organisations within Rotherham. This workshop will be aimed at councils, schools and other community groups and organisations and will promote equality, fair treatment and employment for those with disabilities. Once it has been evaluated, we hope that this will become a saleable workshop offering regular volunteer work for the group and creating revenue for the future continuation and sustainability of the group. IN MORE DETAIL: 1) THE TRAINEES- The role of the two trainee volunteers will be to attend each Tuesday session and in addition to this a half day per week in the OMTC office. The trainee volunteers will be supported by both OMTC and the volunteer support agency (V-inspired at Volunteer Action Rotherham).They will take part in a sixth month long in-house training programme designed by qualified OMTC staff. The programme of training will be divided into two parts; a) Working with the group of participants during the weekly session. During the sessions they will shadow OMTC staff and ‘train on the job’ on how to become an effective workshop leader. b)Working alongside OMTC staff to train as project managers. During the half day they will be taught more theory based approaches to work, such as how to pitch a session to the client and how to structure and choose activities. In addition to this they will look at the less creative, more practical side to work such as finances, making telephone calls, bookings and fund-raising. 2) PARTICIPANTS- The participants will follow a training programme in a secure learning environment, under the direction of the trainee volunteers and OMTC staff. This will include building self-confidence, learning to communicate effectively, decision-making and social skills amongst others. However our main focus will be to train the participants in creating and delivering a workshop. This group of 20 will, by the end of the year, have devised a relevant workshop and be able to deliver it organisations and schools. If the group continue to sell and deliver this workshop, it will create regular volunteer work for the participants and sustainable funding for the future of the project. 3) PRODUCT- The product/ workshop will be aimed at councils, public and private organisations and schools. It intends to dispel myths surrounding disability and break barriers that exist and cause discrimination. Through our workshop we hope to also prove that people with disabilities can work and indeed want to work; in late 2008 the government intend to encourage those with learning disabilities to go back to work. Our programme will promote and work towards this government aim. IN SUMMARY- The overall aim of this programme is to create two trained members of staff, 20 trained volunteers and a saleable product. The two trainees will become responsible for the running of the group ensuring that the group becomes self sustainable beyond the term of the funding. WHY US?- Steve Rogers, Qualified Teacher and ex deputy head teacher. Katherine Fletcher, her degree is in community theatre and communications; she specialized in working with people with disabilities. Joanna Toop, has a first class honours degree in Performing Arts and currently works in theatre and education programmes. She has a lifetime of personal experience of dealing with those with disabilities. Sarah Allkins – Extensive experience of using Drama in Education settings. PROJECT BENEFICIARIES What groups of people will benefit from your project? Direct- 16 adults with learning disabilities, 5 local schools/ organisations will benefit from the workshops. Indirect- Families/friends of the adults with learning disabilities. Approximately how many people will benefit from your project? We intend to run the group with a minimum of 16 participants initially. The workshops will also reach 5 organisations/ schools, reaching up to 750 beneficiaries in year one. PROJECT NEED The government is planning to encourage those with learning disabilities back to work. Our training programme coincides with these government aims. Current provision for disabled people over the age of 21 is either out of the Rotherham area and therefore impractical or over –subscribed. Many of the groups are unsuitable. Many only cater for one type of disability (E.g. Scope) Most will not accept people over the age of 21 because they are seen as adults. Training for those with disabilities is an essential part of ‘up skilling’ this often neglected demographic, especially in Rotherham. Those over 25 automatically lose the right to an occupational therapist. Research carried out by Voluntary Action Rotherham has highlighted that disabled adults and adults with learning disabilities need an organisation in the area where they can access training and develop skills to enable them to enter the workplace. It is also recognised that barriers and myths that local employers may have about employing and working with disabled adults need to be addressed and broken down. Evidence In 2007, Open Minds Theatre Company worked with RAP (Rotherham Advocacy Project) to devise and stage a short play with Adults with learning disabilities. Once this project ended, Adults with learning disabilities told us there was a gap in provision. Those with learning disabilities have the following to say about their lives: Almost one in three people with learning disabilities say they do not have any contact with friends. One in twenty has no friends and do not see anyone from their family. Three-quarters of people with learning disabilities say they would like to change what they do in the daytime. Over two-thirds say they would like to change what they do in the evening. 40 per cent of people say they would like more say in what goes on in their everyday life. ( National Statistics & NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre) PROJECT OUTCOMES Goal 1 - By the end of the project, the group will become a sustainable, self-funding group. How? The trained volunteers will take the lead on running the group and selling workshops. Measurement: Number of workshops sold. Continuation of the group. Goal 2 - 2 volunteers with learning disabilities will be trained as working Drama practitioners and managers. How? Through a year long, step-by-step training programme, designed by and taught by experienced drama practitioners at OMTC. Measurement: The two trained volunteers plus the 14 participants will run 5 workshops in schools independently by the end of the year. Goal 3 - We create more employable individuals and barriers and myths to social inclusion surrounding people with learning disabilities will be addressed and begin to be broken down. How? Through workshops in schools and a filmed performance in the local council, community and schools. Measurement: Workshop feedback through questionnaires will showing how attitudes to those with learning disabilities have changed. Goal 4 - 14 participants will have been trained in how to deliver a workshop and in essential 'skills for life'. How? Through a sixth month training programme with a completed skills grid to show competency. Measurement: The participants successfully complete the training programme and deliver workshops. Goal 5 - Five schools/community groups will receive a free workshop aiming to dispel myths surrounding disability and break barriers. How? The trainee volunteers will contact schools and book workshops in the local area. Measurement: The workshops are completed and evidence is kept from feedback and filming. There is a real need for this project and we would appreciate your support.