UK Disability History Month 2019It’s UK Disability History Month and for 2019 the focus is on disabled leaders throughout history and their struggle for acceptance. We wanted to write a blog about how DanceSyndrome empowers people with disabilities to be leaders through dance.

 

UK Disability History Month 2019 will examine how the leaders of the disabled peoples movement managed to change the way disability was seen as a personal burden to a human rights issue through using the social model of disability from 1970 to the present. The celebration will look at earlier examples of individual and collective resistance to the oppression disabled people have faced at work, in education, in their local community and at home. It will also examine the struggles of disabled people from earlier times for fairness and equality and a life worth living.

 

At DanceSyndrome we are proud to be disability led, with people with learning disabilities being involved at all levels of our organisation, including on our Board of Directors.

 

Our approach to disabled leadership has been recognised on a national level, with our Dance Leader team winning several high profile accolades including:

 

  • Winner of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services 2019, the voluntary group equivalent of an MBE
  • Included on the Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2019 (Dance Leader Team) and 2018 (Becky Rich as an individual leader)
  • Winner of The People’s Choice Award at the National Learning Disability and Autism Awards 2019
  • Winner of Charity of the Year at the E3 Business Awards 2018
  • Winner of the Not-For-Profit Award at the Red Rose Awards 2017
  • Sporting Chance Award winners – The National Learning Disability and Autism Awards 2016
  • DanceSyndrome Founder Director Jen Blackwell won Inspirational Woman of the Year at the EVA Awards 2015, was included in the Shaw Trust Power 100 2018 & 2019, The Lucozade Sport Movers List 2019 and was chosen as the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award in October 2018.

 

DanceSyndrome believes in true inclusion. Our opportunities empower participants to focus on their abilities, rather than their disabilities. For inclusion to be successful, it is necessary to work closely with people as individuals to find out their hopes, dreams and passions and then to work  to enable and empower people to fulfil their goals.

 

Our unique Dance By Example Leadership Training empowers people with and without learning disabilities to become Dance Leaders and to gain the knowledge, skills and ability to co-deliver their own inclusive dance sessions. There isn’t training like this available elsewhere in the UK for people with disabilities!

 

At DanceSyndrome, inclusion starts with dance, but it can be applied to so many more activities. We try to put inclusion into action in all aspects of our work.

 

Perhaps the best example of DanceSyndrome’s inclusive approach was the formation of our Select Team.

 

We work with a lot of talented individuals, with and without disabilities, who have lots of amazing ideas for driving the charity forward and lots of skills that we want to enable them to develop. We decided to set up a regular forum for our dancers with learning disabilities to share information, ideas and feedback. We know it is important for people to have their voices heard and we wanted to make sure that all of our dancers had that opportunity.

 

Dance Leader Becky Rich suggested the name of “Select Team” for this group and the group agreed on it. Becky also took the role of Co-Chairperson for the first meeting and for future meetings the role of Co-Chairperson will be shared between any group members who would like to take a turn. This group was formed to help inform the decisions made by the charity trustees but the group also wanted to publicly celebrate and share their ideas, so we started by blogging about each of their meetings and this evolved into them creating their own video messages which summed up their meetings.

 

 

The outcome of these meetings is that the dreams and needs of the Dance Leaders are made clear to the Board of Directors and the team of people who co-ordinate DanceSyndrome’s activities and funding. This has resulted in some incredible projects, including two trips to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, TV auditions, participation in UDance Festival at a national level, an Arts Council funded choreography project and the forthcoming DanceSyndrome showcase event. It has also changed the shape of our dance provision, as the following example shows.

 

Another example of DanceSyndrome being disability led is the formation of our street dance crew. DStreet Crew came into being after some of our regular participants voiced their opinions in a focus group that was held to allow their voices to be heard and drive the charity forward. They wanted more variety in the types of dance offered to them, and in particular, they wanted to do some street dance. The DanceSyndrome team took this on board and planned a series of 6 workshops in late 2017 that would introduce participants to the basics of street dance. The response to the sessions was incredibly positive. The participants loved the content of the sessions, and Donna Harrison the Dance Artist running the sessions was impressed with the participants’ natural talent for street dance. But that wasn’t enough for the group, they wanted to perform too! They decided that they wanted to form a proper street dance crew and arrange some performances. They worked as a team to chose a name and develop their own logo. They were all asked for their ideas and they decided on colours, styles and fonts that they liked and the final design was printed onto uniform chosen by the team. The DStreet Crew has gone on to perform at several high profile events and even auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent! The model that they requested for street dance has been replicated with other dance styles and as a result DanceSyndrome now also offers Jazz, Ballet and Contemporary sessions – great leadership from our Dance Leaders!

 

 

We think that this is a great example of inclusion, which is why we are proudly sharing it to demonstrate why inclusion and disabled leadership matters. Participants with and without disabilities worked together at all stages of this project, all being given equal chance to participate, to share their opinions and to influence the future of their shared team. We are incredibly proud of what they are achieving together, following a shared dream and achieving their own goals!

 

 

If you are inspired by the work we do and would like to find out more about how you can become involved, please visit the Support Us page.

 

We no longer have major funding to support our core activities, so donations are vital to our future. If everybody who has been inspired by our work could spare £1 a month to support our work, we would be able to fully fund our work.

 

If you can spare £1 per month to help us, please text DANCE to 70201 or you can donate directly using the form below:

 

2019 was one of DanceSyndrome’s most successful years to date. It was the year we celebrated 10 years since Jen Blackwell founded the organisation to provide unique opportunities for people with a learning disability. We celebrated in style with a variety of inspiring performances, national recognition and several awards/ accolades!

Here we share some of the highlights of this incredible year!

 

We started the year with our Founder Jen performing in her role as Ambassador to Team High Sheriff in Manchester and she got a truly amazing response!

 

As we moved into March, we had another incredible response, but to something very different and a new experience for us. Our Accrington workshop group gave their first ever dance performance at a high profile International Women’s Day event at Accrington Town Hall. They were the first of our workshop groups to develop and deliver a performance piece and we were so inspired by them that we decided to build on this experience. We are now in a position where we are preparing for our first DanceSyndrome showcase event, which is offering high profile performance opportunities to all our individual workshop groups. (Tickets are available from Blackburn Empire Theatre if you want to see this performance)

Celebrating International Ladies Day

Bridge Centre helping to celebrate “ International Women’s Day”…..absolutely great dancing.

Posted by Bridge Centre NW Ltd on Friday, 8 March 2019

 

March is always a busy time of year for DanceSyndrome and 2019 was no exception! As part of our awareness raising work for Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week, Ambassador and Dance Leader Becky Rich went to meet with Graham Jones, our local MP, who was thrilled to hear about the work that DanceSyndrome is doing at a local level.

Delighted to meet the amazing Becky Rich who works with the Accrington charity DanceSyndrome.Brilliant Becky works so…

Posted by Graham Jones on Sunday, 17 March 2019

 

The key to our awareness raising, though, was the production of 4 videos about the lives of some of our dancers with Down’s syndrome and their families’ experiences.

Becky Rich:

Pauline Hall:

David Corr:

Jen Blackwell:

 

Jen’s film was also shown in May at the Nursing Congress Conference “Learning Disability Changing Care for Healthier Futures” and the response was wonderful:

 

A few weeks later we helped DanceSyndrome supporter Craig Hartley to publish his first book, a novella called “A Change of Views”. Craig kindly donated all proceeds from the sale of his book to support our work:

One of the proudest moments in DanceSyndrome’s 10 year history came in June, when we were announced as recipients of the Queens Award for Voluntary Services, the voluntary group equivalent of an MBE. Volunteers are essential to the success of DanceSyndrome’s work and we are absolutely thrilled that our dedicated and hard working volunteers have been recognised with the highest honour!

 

Over the last two summers our team have performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but in 2019 we decided to do something different. We travelled to Watford to deliver a workshop and performance as part of Enrich Festival, a fully inclusive festival celebrating the arts. It was a wonderful experience and our performance was very well received.

https://twitter.com/EnrichFestival/status/1137750430178586624

 

We also got a very positive reception at the House of Lords for a prestigious Learning Disability Nurses event on 21st June.

https://twitter.com/julie4nw/status/1142962675531558912

 

The following day, Jen was excited to receive a Highly Commended award at the She Inspires Awards

https://twitter.com/julie4nw/status/1142563552248700930

 

And the awards just kept coming! The following week our team attended the national Learning Disability and Autism Awards. They gave a stunning performance before being announced as winners of the People’s Award for 2019!

 

Part of the reason why we win so many awards is for our unique approach to inclusion and challenging perceptions of learning disabilities. We try to challenge perceptions of what people with learning disabilities are ABLE to do in every aspect of our day to day work, but events like Learning Disability Awareness week give us a unique opportunity to demonstrate why our work is so vital to people with learning disabilities. We produced the film “I am here… we are DanceSyndrome” to celebrate #LDWeek2019 and to try and reframe the way people think about the life of a person with a learning disability.

 

Another example of changing perceptions came through the national UDance festival in July. This was a real highlight of the year for us. David Corr and Jessica Reid developed a stunning duet piece in early 2019 which was entered for consideration as part of the North West regional UDance Festival. They were chosen to perform at The Lowry in March and were subsequently chosen to represent the North West at the national festival in London in July. We were incredibly proud of David and Jess and the way they performed. They performed on an equal footing with their non-disabled peers and disability was never a consideration while they danced. They were treated as equals by everyone involved in the festival – true inclusion at its best! This is our hope for Society as a whole one day.

 

 

Moving ahead to September, we had another busy month. One of the highlights was our first public AGM and as you would expect there was lots of dancing!

Jen Blackwell and David Darcy treated the AGM attendees to a special performance of their 2019 duet piece, which we simply love!

Just six weeks later this duet was performed in London and received a standing ovation from over 800 people!

 

September also brought more recognition for our work. Jen Blackwell, DanceSyndrome Founder and Director, was thrilled to be featured in the first national Movers List, which was published by The Independent and Lucozade Sport. The list aims to recognise 50 individuals whose volunteering, charity work or dedication to sport and exercise inspires local communities to move more. The list, compiled by Lucozade Sport and judged by sports experts and stars, highlights the amateur sportspeople who are helping get the UK more active.

Jen was thrilled to receive her copy of the Movers List book and personalised Lucozade Sport bottle! You can read more…

Posted by DanceSyndrome on Wednesday, 11 September 2019

 

Within days Jen was off to the House of Lords for the second time this year, where she was recognised again with a second year on the Shaw Trust Power 100!

Congratulations to our Founder Jen Blackwell who has been included in The Power 100 for the second consecutive year! We're very proud of you Jen!

Posted by DanceSyndrome on Wednesday, 9 October 2019

 

Jen’s hard work and determination over the last ten years truly makes her worthy of these accolades. DanceSyndrome still has the same mission today that Jen started with in 2009, to provide life changing opportunities for people with and without disabilities in the world of dance. Funding from Spirit of 2012 has enabled DanceSyndrome to really thrive over the last three years and provide so many valuable opportunities, so it was with sadness in September that our three year funded project with Spirit came to a close. Everyone at DanceSyndrome is determined to continue the good work that Spirit enabled us to begin, so we decided to run an ambitious fundraising campaign to enable our vital work to continue. We called this campaign #Perfect10 to celebrate the 10th anniversary and our dancers gave us 10 great reasons why they love DanceSyndrome:

 

DanceSyndrome has another major funding project that is also in its final year. The National Lottery Community Fund gave us funding in 2017 to work with partnership organisations in Nottingham and Oldham to test how social franchising might work for DanceSyndrome in the future. Working with these groups we have delivered Dance By Example leadership training and Inclusive Approaches training to give the members of the groups the skills they needed to run their own workshops, deliver outreach activities and develop performance skills. In November, the Nottingham group of performers, who have been working together for just less than a year, gave their first public performance. We are incredibly proud of them but, more importantly, they were incredibly proud of themselves and were thrilled with the response from the audience!

 

Yet another proud moment came on International Day of Persons with a Disability, 3rd December. The DanceSyndrome Dance Leader team were announced as one of the winning teams on the national Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List.  This is the second year that DanceSyndrome has been included. Last year, Dance Leader and Ambassador Becky Rich was a winner and she was thrilled to be invited to be a judge for the 2019 list too!

 

Our final performance of the year came in early December. Our team were proud to be invited to contribute to an exhibition called “The Marketplace and I: Uncovering disability in the market through the medium of art”. The project aimed to share, through the medium of art, the marketplace experiences of persons with disabilities. DanceSyndrome were proud to be asked to provide a dance piece for the project and developed “Strive” which was performed on the opening night of the exhibition.

 

Wow! What an incredible year! We are looking to the future now and are excited about the opportunities that 2020 might bring! If you are inspired by the work we did in 2019 and would like to find out more about how you can become involved, please visit the Support Us page.

We no longer have major funding to support our core activities, so donations are vital to our future. If everybody who has been inspired by our work could spare £1 a month to support our work, we would be able to fully fund our work.

If you can spare £1 per month to help us, please text DANCE to 70201 or you can donate directly using the form below:

The DanceSyndrome Dance Leader team has been recognised again at a national level for the contribution that they have made to the lives of people with disabilities.

 

Launched in 2018, the Leaders’ List is the UK’s first national list celebrating achievements of people with learning disabilities and/or autism and is pulled together by not-for-profit support provider Dimensions. It is an inspiring collection of stories from people who have learning disabilities and/or autism who are making a difference and getting involved.

 

The Dance Leader team are all volunteers with DanceSyndrome. They have all completed our unique Dance By Example leadership training, which enables people with a disability to learn how to lead their own inclusive dance workshops. They are also members of our performance teams, delivering inspiring contemporary dance and street dance performances to audiences across the UK demonstrating a focus on “ability, not disability”. Their work inspires and empowers both dancers and audiences to believe that opportunities are endless for people who refuse to be defined by disability.

 

The incredible work that the Dance Leader team does resulted in them being nominated for the Leaders List. They are one of only 75 people and teams to be included in the list and are recognised in the category of Sports, Arts and Entertainment.

 

Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards 2019The inclusion on the Leaders’ List isn’t the first time that the team have been recognised for their contribution to their community. In summer 2019, the charity was announced as recipients of the prestigious Queens Award for Voluntary Services, the voluntary group equivalent of an MBE. They also won The People’s Choice Award at the National Learning Disability and Autism Awards 2019. In 2018 Jen, the Founder of DanceSyndrome, received of the Prime Minister’s Point Of Light Award and she has also been included in The Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List in both 2018 and 2019 and the Lucozade Sport Movers’ List 2019.

 

DanceSyndrome Managing Director, Dawn Vickers said “It’s amazing to see our Dance Leader team recognised at a national level again! They are an inspirational group of people who have such a strong team bond. They call each other a “dancing family” and they have created a wonderful supportive and inclusive environment where everyone is welcome. We couldn’t be more proud of them and all the recognition they get reflects that. ”

 

You can read more of the team’s story and more about the Leaders’ List on the Dimensions website.

 

If you would like to support the life-changing work of DanceSyndrome you can visit the Support us page, or donate directly through the form below. Thank you for your support!

Supported by Co-opWe are delighted that DanceSyndrome has been chosen to benefit from the Co-op Local Community Fund.

 

At a time when funds for community groups and charitable organisations are becoming more difficult to access, we’re incredibly grateful for this opportunity to raise vital funds for our work.

 

We strive to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to not only be included, but to become more visible citizens, have their voices heard on important issues, to follow their dreams and to succeed in their ambitions. This funding will help us to provide more opportunities, including weekly inclusive dance workshops for people with and without disabilities, performance opportunities and leadership training in line with our unique co-delivery model – people with and without disabilities work together to offer high quality provision.

 

To help us raise vital funds, we’ll be relying on Co-op members. When a member buys selected products or services from the Co-op they earn a five per cent reward for themselves, with a further one per cent for local causes like ours.

 

We will only benefit if members sign up to support us, so please visit our unique page and choose us as your cause.

 

If you’re not a member yet and would like to support us, you can join at your local store or online at www.coop.co.uk.

 

There are also other ways to support DanceSyndrome while you shop.

 

If you shop online at Amazon, you can support our work without is costing you a penny! All you need to do is choose DanceSyndrome as the charity that you want to support and then shop via smile.amazon.co.uk instead of amazon.co.uk.

 

If you use the Android app, it is even easier. Please see these instructions on how to set up Smile on your app.

 

All contributions add up and this is a great way for you to support us while you shop!

 

If you prefer to shop with different retailers, you might be interested in EasyFundraising.org.uk. You can raise free donations for DanceSyndrome at over 4,000 shops and sites.

 

This is how it works:

 

Now that we no longer have major funding for our every day activities like this we are becoming increasingly reliant on donations of all sizes to continue our life-changing work. If you would also like to donate directly to our work, you can do so using the form below. We really appreciate all of your support!

 

 

Jen Blackwell Disability Power 100Jen Blackwell, Founder of DanceSyndrome, was announced as one of the most influential people with a disability in the UK at a reception at the House of Lords on Tuesday 8th October.

 

The Shaw Trust Disability Power List 100 is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. The list is compiled by an independent judging panel, chaired by Kate Nash who was awarded an OBE for services to disabled people in 2007. In 2013 she was appointed Ambassador to Disability Rights UK.

 

DanceSyndrome is multi-award winning dance charity that delivers inclusive dance workshops and dance leadership training. The team also give inspiring performances that demonstrate a focus on ability rather than disability. DanceSyndrome was founded by Jen, who happens to have Down’s syndrome, because she found it difficult to find opportunities in community dance due to her disability. Our ethos is that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams. Dancers with and without disabilities work together to inspire people to see what can be achieved when we all become more inclusive.

 

This inclusive approach to dance has resulted in Jen being included on the Power List for the last two years.Jen Blackwell Disability Power 100

 

Jen said: “I’m a winner again!  I’m the Founder of DanceSyndrome, recognised and accepted for who I am. I’m being the best that I can be, creating opportunities and changing lives. My charity shows the world what we can do, but we need charitable giving and people like you to help us make better futures for everyone.”

 

The full Shaw Trust Disability Power List 100 can be found on www.disabilitypower100.com.

 

If you are inspired by Jen’s achievements, we need your support. Visit the Support Us page to find out about ways you can sustain our work, or you can donate directly via the form below:

Our team are very excited to have been shortlisted as Finalists in two categories at the upcoming Selnet Enterprise in Society Awards!

 

Selnet, the Social Enterprise Network for Lancashire, supports social enterprises across Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen to connect, develop and grow. Their annual awards celebrate outstanding organisations, remarkable start-ups and inspirational enablers. The 2019 awards will be held on 8th November at The Villa, Wrea Green and DanceSyndrome has been nominated for both the Enabling Ability Award and the Social Enterprise of the Year Award.

 

The Enabling Ability Award recognises that social enterprise can transform the lives of their beneficiaries. This category recognises the social enterprises or individuals who help others to live life to the fullest.

 

The Social Enterprise of the Year Award is a judge’s choice award. Big or small, new or established, the award will celebrate one Social Enterprise that can demonstrate an outstanding contribution to Lancashire.

 

Please look out for news from the event on our Facebook, Twitter and Linked In pages!

 

If you would like to support the award winning work of DanceSyndrome, you can donate directly using the form below, or visit our recent blog about 10 easy ways to fundraise.

10 ways to fundraise

We are currently running a 10 week long fundraising campaign to mark 10 years since DanceSyndrome was founded by Jen Blackwell. We hope to fundraise £10,000 to allow us to continue the vital, life-changing work that we do.

 

In the current economic climate we are faced with increased pressure on our resources. Competition for funding is fierce and the major funding that we have had in recent years is coming to an end. We are now relying on the generous support of individuals and businesses.

 

There are lots of reasons why small charities need your support at this time, which you can read in our blog about 10 key reasons why we deserve your support.

 

If you do want to support us, there are lots of ways to get involved, no matter how much or little time you can dedicate to fundraising. Here are 10 great ways to fundraise:

  • Run a 10k

    Running is currently a really popular pastime and if it’s your favourite way of keeping active then why not turn it into an opportunity to raise some money for your favourite charity? Sponsored 10k races are one of the most effective ways for us to fundraise, particularly if you can convince your friends to join in too!

    Why not try Blackburn 10k from Ewood Park on 17th November

    Or visit https://findarace.com/10k-runs to find one near you.

    You can raise sponsorship via Just Giving or using our printable sponsorship form

  • Donate £10

    There are lots of ways you can donate directly to our work.

    You can text a donation:

    To donate £1, text DANCE to 70201
    To donate £3, text DANCE to 70331
    To donate £5, text DANCE to 70970
    To donate £10, text DANCE to 70191
    To donate £20, text DANCE20 to 70191

    You can donate via Just Giving https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/DanceSyndrome10

    You can donate or fundraise via our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/dancerleddisabilityinspired/

    You can post a donation to DanceSyndrome, C/O Pathways Associates, Suite 2, Waterside, St James Court West, Accrington, BB5 1NA

    You can even raise donations while you do your online shopping and it doesn’t cost a penny!
    Visit smile.amazon.co.uk or easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/dancesyndrome/ to find out more!

    Or you can donate by handing cash to our Dance Artists in our sessions or using the online form below:


  • Join our 10 hour Sponsored Dance

    Get moving, have a good time and raise money for charity!

    We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary with a “Perfect 10” fundraising campaign. We need to raise £10,000 so we are holding a sponsored dance.

    Our Dance Artists will be dancing for 10 hours, but please come along and join us and do as much or as little as you are able to.

    You can download a sponsorship form https://dancesyndrome.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/sponsorship-form.pdf or fundraise online at www.justgiving.com/campaign/DanceSyndrome10

    Perfect 10: Sponsored Dance

    Please help us to make this a great event by also sharing it on Facebook!
    https://www.facebook.com/events/501674327066873/

  • Save all your 10p pieces

    If fundraising is really challenging for you, why not start small and just collect together as many 10p pieces as you can? Ask your friends and family to help! You could even set them a challenge to each fill a small jar.
    You can donate by handing cash to our Dance Artists in our sessions or contact us on info@dancesyndrome.co.uk and we will make arrangements to collect your donations.
  • Spend 10 minutes sharing our work

    We really need more people to understand how valuable our work is and support us. Every supporter can help us with this by just spending 10 minutes on social media sharing our work and telling people why you think we are fabulous! All it costs is 10 minutes of your time but to us it is a vital way of reaching new people.

    You can find our social media on the following links:

    Twitter
    Facebook
    Instagram
    Linked In
    YouTube

  • Ask 10 people to donate £1

    We understand that not everyone is in a position to donate to charity in times of austerity, but maybe you can find another way to help us, such as asking 10 people to donate £1. You could ask in person or via social media.

    If you collect coins from people, you can donate by handing in cash in our sessions or contact us on info@dancesyndrome.co.uk and we’ll make arrangements to collect your donations.

    If you’re asking people online you can share this information:

    To donate £1 to DanceSyndrome text DANCE to 70201

    You can donate any amount online at www.dancesyndrome.co.uk/donate

  • Ask a business for £10,000 sponsorship

    Do you know someone who runs a successful business or who works for a company with a charitable donation policy? You could tell them about our work and ask them to support us with a donation or or ask them to contact us on info@dancesyndrome.co.uk.

    If you run a business and would like to sponsor an upcoming DanceSyndrome event, you can do that directly through this form:

  • Host a 10th birthday party

    Why not have a party with your friends to celebrate our 10th birthday? You could charge for tickets, simply ask for donations or make it free but have party games with an entry fee.

    You can find all the information you need about organising an event in our Fundraising Pack https://dancesyndrome.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/fundraising-pack.pdf or email us at info@dancesyndrome.co.uk

  • Host a 10 themed event

    You could organise an event with a theme such as casino night, games night (computer games or board games), wine tasting, karaoke or “X-factor”, masquerade ball, comedy night or even a fashion show. Organise entertainment and decorations that fit with the theme and sell tickets with profits being donated to DanceSyndrome. You can do extra things to raise money on the night, like raffles, auctions or tombolas.

    You can find all the information you need about organising events in our Fundraising Pack https://dancesyndrome.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/fundraising-pack.pdf or email us at info@dancesyndrome.co.uk

  • Buy 10 show tickets

    Why not bring a group of 10 or more people to a DanceSyndrome event? This helps to spread the word about the value of our work and also helps to fund our continued performance work. Contact us on info@dancesyndrome.co.uk for information about bringing a group to our next event.

If you would like to support our work you can donate directly using the form below:

10 reasons why we deserve your support

Yesterday we launched a 10 week long fundraising campaign called “Perfect 10” to mark 10 years since DanceSyndrome was founded by Jen Blackwell.

In the current economic climate we are faced with increased pressure on our resources. Competition for funding is fierce and the major funding that we have had in recent years is coming to an end. We are now relying on the generous support of individuals and businesses to carry out our vital work.

There are lots of reasons why small charities need your support at this time, but in keeping with our “Perfect 10” theme, we wanted to give you 10 key reasons why we deserve your support.

If you agree that the work that we are doing is vital, then please tell people about our work, share on social media and donate if you can! 

  • 1. There is a genuine need for our work

    In times of austerity, people with learning disabilities are becoming increasingly dependent on the third sector for support and budgets to support them are being drastically cut.

    • There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK.
    • 85% of young learning disabled adults (18-34 year olds) feel lonely.
    • Mental health problems amongst adults with a learning disability are double the rate in the general population (40%).
    • Average life expectancy of women with a learning disability is 18 years shorter than the general population; for men with a learning disability it is 14 years shorter than the general population
    • 17% of all adults with a learning disability in England are in paid work (47% of adults with any type of disability are in paid work and 74% of adults in the general population in England are in paid work)

    (Source: Mencap)

    DanceSyndrome’s work addresses all of these issues. Our workshops help people with their physical and mental wellbeing but research conducted with our participants also suggests that they also gain life skills, communications skills and transferrable employability skills.

  • 2. Our work is life changing

    Involvement with DanceSyndrome can be truly life changing. Our participants report significant improvements to their mental health, physical wellbeing and, perhaps most importantly, their happiness!

    Our research with current participants shows:

    100% feel happier since joining DanceSyndrome

    85% say their confidence has increased since joining DanceSyndrome

    100% feel better about their life and future since joining DanceSyndrome

    85% say their self-esteem has improved since joining DanceSyndrome

    100% enjoyed their involvement with DanceSyndrome

    Jen and Toni’s story shows just how life changing our work can be.

  • 3. We encourage people with learning disabilities to be leaders

    DanceSyndrome’s Dance By Example training is a unique training course that empowers people with or without learning disabilities to become a community dance workshop leader. Participants learn a range of leadership skills, many of which are transferrable, and then they are given the chance to work shadow existing leaders and gain experience of delivering workshops themselves. The course is offered at different ability levels, with a Level 1 qualification currently available and a Level 2 qualification coming soon!

    People with learning disabilities rarely get the opportunity to be visible, inspiring leaders and this course is an accessible way of teaching people really valuable life skills, as explained in this video about Dance Leader David Corr.

  • 4. Our co-delivery model is unique

    All DanceSyndrome activities are co-led by a Dance Leader with a learning disability who is supported by a professional Dance Artist. The workshop teams work together to develop ideas and activities for their workshops, which they then deliver as a team. This ensures high quality dance provision that is led by a person with a learning disability in a visible leadership role. Our Dance Leaders are inspiring leaders who are excellent role models for other individuals with learning disabilities who aspire to follow their dreams and live a life of their choosing.

    This model is something that isn’t common in other organisations, but is consistent in all aspects of the work that DanceSyndrome does, not just in workshops but in training courses, performance and outreach work. Here is a great example of Jen and Peter, supported by Donna, leading a dance activity at the North West Regional Forum conference for self advocates with learning disabilities.

  • 5. We provide opportunities not offered anywhere else

    DanceSyndrome strives to give individuals of all abilities access to opportunities that they wouldn’t get elsewhere. We do this by offering a supportive environment and listening to our dancers’ ideas. If someone has a dream that they want to pursue, we take it seriously and consider the logistics of making it happen. Our dancers have been supported to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe (in both 2017 and 2018), at U.Dance festival, to open awards ceremonies including the national Learning Disability and Autism awards, to choreograph an Arts Council funded project, to participate in a photo shoot with a professional dance photographer, to be filmed for prime time TV, to have their stories published in a book, to perform at the House of Lords and even to audition for Britain’s Got Talent!

  • 6. We empower people

    All participants with DanceSyndrome are empowered through improved life skills and increased confidence, but for some participants this goes even further. As well as participation and performance opportunities, DanceSyndrome empowers people with learning disabilities to genuinely influence the future of the charity. Everyone’s opinion is valued and respected. We have people with learning disabilities sitting on our Board of Directors and we have the “Select Team”, which is made up of people with learning disabilities and their families and carers. The Select Team meets to discuss their experiences with DanceSyndrome, what they like and what can be improved, as well as what they would like to do in the future. The discussions from this meeting are fed back to the admin staff and Trustees and change in the organisation is driven by the people who participate in our activities. Everyone at DanceSyndrome is empowered by the understanding that they are valued, respected and listened to.

  • 7. We are truly inclusive

    Many organisations claim to be inclusive because they offer services that can accessed by people with disabilities but at DanceSyndrome we are truly inclusive, with people with and without disabilities working collaboratively, learning from each other and treating each other as equals.

    Everyone is empowered in a completely supportive environment where everyone’s opinion is respected and everyone is encouraged to strive to achieve their goals, regardless of their disability, age, gender, sexuality, race or religion. This approach has been so successful that we now offer a training course called “Inclusive Approaches” which gives people from a range of professional backgrounds the skills needed to fully understand inclusion and create inclusive environments.

    The perfect example of our inclusive approach is David and Jessica’s recent success in the U.Dance festival. Both dancers happen to have Down’s syndrome, but were able to fully participate in a prestigious mainstream festival thanks to the support of our Dance Artists, who have recognised and nurtured their abilities in an inclusive environment. Not only did they participate, but they were chosen to represent the whole of the North West at the London festival! Their performance was beautiful.

  • 8. The skills people learn with us are transferrable

    DanceSyndrome isn’t just about learning skills related to dance. The leadership and life skills that our participants learn in our sessions can be used in many other aspects of life.

    These statistics, which are reported by our current participants, show the extent to which transferrable skills are learnt in DanceSyndrome workshops:

    100% have gained team working skills

    94% gained skills to use at home, college or work

    76% gained self management skills

    Pauline’s story is a great example of the power of our work in developing transferrable skills and why they are so important.

  • 9. We are changing perceptions of disability

    Part of DanceSyndrome’s mission is to change the way people think about disability. We want to refocus attention on the things that people with disabilities are able to do, instead of how their disability limits them. Once people change to an ability, rather than disability, focus then opportunities for people with disabilities become more readily available.

    We try to show people’s strengths and talents in all aspects of our work, but this video “Here I am” is one of our favourites!

  • 10. We’re an award winning charity

    Over the last 4 years we have won many awards and accolades recognising the importance of our work. It’s always great to get such wonderful recognition and it really helps us to raise awareness of our work, but the main reason why these awards are so important to us is because they really make a significant difference to our Dance Leaders’ confidence, self esteem and belief that they can achieve anything they want to in life with the right support.

    Here Jen speaks about how she felt when she won the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award at the 2015 EVAs:

If you appreciate the work that we do and want to see more of it, please support us in any way that you can. You can donate directly using the form below, or click on the “Fundraising Appeal” button in the top right hand corner to find out more about how you can fundraise for us! We are very grateful for your continued support.

Accrington based business William Dyer Electrical has chosen to support DanceSyndrome after seeing members of their team at a prestigious Awards ceremony.

 

Managing Director William Dyer was at a special presentation ceremony at County Hall on 22nd July where the Lancashire recipients of the 2019 Queens Award for Voluntary Services were receiving their awards from The Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire. William was there as part of his work supporting Community Defibrillators for Rossendale (CDFR). He was so impressed by a speech given by DanceSyndrome Founder Jen Blackwell that he took the decision to reach out to offer his support. The timing was perfect as we are currently looking for sponsors to help us to continue their all of our activities across Lancashire.

 

DanceSyndrome is multi-award winning dance charity. We deliver inclusive dance workshops and dance leadership training as well as inspiring performances that demonstrate a focus on ability rather than disability. Dancers with and without disabilities work together to inspire people to see what can be achieved when we all become more inclusive. The charity was founded by Jen Blackwell, who happens to have Down’s syndrome, because she found it difficult to find opportunities in community dance due to her disability. We firmly believe that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams and we empower people with and without disabilities to pursue a career in dance.

 

The sponsorship that William Dyer Electrical have provided will enable us to maintain our weekly Accrington Library workshop for the next year, following the end of major funding which has sustained the session for the last three years.

 

William Dyer, Managing Director, said “William Dyer Electrical UK Ltd recognise the exceptional work Dancesyndrome do for our community and are extremely pleased to be able to offer some support and funding to assist the team to continue the fabulous work.”

 

DanceSyndrome Managing Director Dawn Vickers said “We are always thrilled when a local business decides to support our work. Donations like this make a significant difference to our work and enable us to continue to support people who are often excluded from mainstream activities to not only be included but to be empowered to become leaders. By supporting small charities like ours businesses make a really impactful contribution to the local community.”

 

If you would like more information about how DanceSyndrome can work with your business please contact the team via email at info@dancesyndrome.co.uk. If you would like to support our work yourself, you can donate directly through the form below.

DanceSyndrome was first started in November 2009 by Jen Blackwell. Since then we have changed the lives of hundreds of people with learning disabilities but we now need your help to enable us to continue to deliver these life changing opportunities.

 

In times of austerity, people with learning disabilities are becoming increasingly dependent on the third sector for support and budgets to support them are being drastically cut.  Research shows that people with learning disabilities are more likely to be lonely, more likely to suffer mental health difficulties, less likely to be in paid employment and have a much shorter life expectancy than the general population (Source: Mencap). The work that DanceSyndrome does is vital in reversing these trends, but we need your help.

 

Based in North West England, DanceSyndrome is a small local charity providing inclusive dance workshops & leadership training for people with and without disabilities. Our dancers also perform live at special events across the UK with the aim of inspiring people and demonstrating that people with disabilities can live a life of their choosing and follow their dreams.

 

DanceSyndrome was founded in 2009 by Jen Blackwell, with help from her parents. Jen has Down’s syndrome and after attending a mainstream school she felt that her disability shouldn’t stop her from having the career of her choice. She wanted to be a community dance leader but found it very difficult to find training that was appropriate for someone with a learning disability. After 10 years of searching unsuccessfully, she took matters into her own hands and started DanceSyndrome to allow her, and other people in the same situation, to follow their dreams of having a career in dance. That was 10 years ago and DanceSyndrome still stands apart from other dance sessions with all activities being co-led by people with disabilities, who are all trained through our unique Dance By Example leadership training course.

 

 

The pioneering, innovative approach of DanceSyndrome is that if you include people of all abilities and empower them to take part in a way that means something to them, then they will start to believe in themselves and achieve things that they never thought possible. We use dance to unlock potential but the skills that people learn can be transferred to other aspects of life beyond the arts. We are empowering people with learning disabilities to become visible, active members of society who are changing accepted beliefs about what people with learning disabilities are ABLE to do.

 

People are empowered for life after taking part in our sessions and there isn’t any other provision like it in the North West, or further afield. We want to be able to continue this provision and even expand it, but to do that we need your help. In the current economic climate we are faced with increased pressure on our resources. Competition for funding is fierce and the major funding that we have had in recent years is coming to an end. We are now relying on the generous support of individuals and businesses to carry out our vital work. If you appreciate the work that we do and want to see more of it, please support us in any way that you can.

 

As we approach our 10th anniversary we are appealing to our supporters to help us to make even more of a difference.  Regular giving allows us to plan future activities and programmes with confidence and your support can make that possible. We welcome donations of any size and every single one makes a difference. With your help we can change the way that people think about disability and create a brighter future for people who might otherwise be excluded by Society.

 

We appreciate your support and are grateful for all donations! You can donate directly using the form below, or via our Just Giving page