Gigs help to break down barriers for young people with learning disabilities

January 10, 2017

Around 30 Brighton and Hove-based young people with learning disabilities will be playing monthly gigs to inclusive audiences of up to 120 people thanks to a grant from the Care UK wellbeing foundation.

The Rock House concerts, held at the Green Door Store and West Hill Hall, are organised by Brighton charity Carousel. Director Liz Hall said: “We work with adults and children with learning disabilities, many also with sensory impairments and physical disabilities, across Sussex.

“Our work uses the arts to develop skills in self confidence, self advocacy, team skills and choice making and all our workshops are led by trained and experienced learning disabled artists. ”

Carousel’s board of trustees is 50 per cent comprised of people with learning disabilities. As well as gigs it organises rehearsal sessions at mainstream venues, such as the Electronic Studios in Brighton, where they rehearse and record in studios alongside the city’s musicians.

The sessions help to break down the isolation felt by many people with learning disabilities.

The sessions help to break down the isolation felt by many people with learning disabilities.

Liz said: “Music, especially in a city like Brighton, is very democratic. It breaks down barriers and it allows people to meet people first as a musician and then as someone who happens to have Down’s Syndrome.

“The response from our audiences is uniformly positive. The songs created and played by the groups address many of the things that touch all our lives and they are things that everyone can relate to.

“Our sessions also help to break down the isolation felt by many people with learning disabilities by giving them a safe environment to share their passion for performance. I am very grateful to the Care UK wellbeing foundation for the £2,000 grant that will help them to go on building their skills and confidence.”

David Griffiths, deputy service manager of the Brighton Station Health Centre which Care UK runs on behalf of the local NHS, said: “Care UK established the wellbeing foundation as a way to give back to the communities where it provides health and social care services.

“We chose to support art projects because we understand the powerful effect music, arts and poetry can have on a person’s confidence and sense of self. The board felt this project, which is supported by the work of more than 30 volunteers, shows how arts can not only benefit their participants but also their communities by breaking down out-dated barriers.”

Over the next year, the Care UK wellbeing foundation has more than £25,000 available for grants to support charities which promote wellbeing through the arts. Applications for new grants are now open. Find out more by visiting the nominations page.