Arts & Culture

Written by Clare Melvin

A new disability hub opened in Birmingham this week, one that is committed to promoting touchbase-pears-centre-650-x-350arts and wellbeing as much as traditional services.  Touchbase Pears and disability charity Sense, stated that the new hub will not just focus on “ … services, but arts and wellbeing, office space, library, café and rooted in the heart of the community, it shows Sense can work beyond the boundaries of social care.

This is another example of how the learning disabilities and autism community are claiming a stake in the arts, becoming visible and challenging the stereotypes typically portrayed in mainstream media.

Recent research has highlighted that many individuals with learning disabilities  feel excluded from culture and media and that engaging in arts and music programmes can be a way to find meaningful inclusion.

Our featured image for this week’s blog (Photo credit Ian Chapman/Southend Care) comes from a community art project in Southend on Sea.  Individuals with learning disabilities were the artists and subjects for the images and the artwork is displayed in Southend’s Victoria Shopping Centre.  You can seen more of the pictures and read about the project in the Guardian article – Recognise Us.

Sarah-Gordy-awarded-mbe-SnootyFoxSarah Gordy was awarded an MBE in June this year.  The actress with Down’s Syndrome was recognised for her “services to the arts and people with disabilities”.  You can read more about her at and upon receiving the award Sarah stated that “diversity is an opportunity, not a problem”. (Photo credit: Snooty Fox)

London has a number of arts and drama projects offering creative opportunities and culture projects outside of traditional therapy.

Open Orchestras offers an approach in which young people with multiple and complex needs are enabled to learn musical skills, play in ensembles and become music makers.

Access All Areas supports learning disabled and autistic artists in their performances and in finding casting opportunities.  It boast “Award-winning, urban, disruptive performance by learning disabled and autistic artists” and offers training with the Performance Diploma for Adults with Learning Disabilities.

You can read about their current artists and independent projects including The Misfit Analysis, which premiered at the  Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is now on it’s second tour, and the hugely successful Madhouse re:exit (picture below), a play tackling isolation and austerity. (Photo credit: Helen Murray). 



New Anxiety App for Autism

autism-interaction-650-x-350Developed with Autistica and tested by people with autism and their families, a new app called Molehill Mountain, has been launched to help autistic people understand and self-manage anxiety. The app can help to explore the causes and symptoms of anxiety.

With the app you can:

  • Track your worries and the situations that trigger anxiety.
  • Get evidence-based daily tips to understand more about anxiety.
  • Feel more confident to self-manage  anxiety.

To read more about Molemill Moutain click here and to download the app visit here.


Also in the News this week…

  • Mencap won a ruling which overturning a previous employment tribunal decision which ruled that workers were entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for every hour of a sleep-in shift.  To read more about #SolveSleepIns Alliance and this latest update visit VODG.
  • The Government has published new service guidelines for children, young people and adults with a learning disability and/or autism and behaviour that challenges.  You can access the new NICE guidelines here – Learning Disabilities and Behaviour that Challenges: Service design and delivery. [NG93].


GLdCoP facebook group – don’t forget to sign up! Greater London Community of Practice

An online forum where members can share practice and communicate with other members of LD/ASC community in the Greater London Area – sign up here! and follow us on twitter @gldcop

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