Haringey Shed works with vulnerable and disadvantaged children of all abilities and disabilities in to improve their educational achievements through participation in inclusive performing arts and makes use of theatre, music and dance to give them equal access to high quality creative activities and performance opportunities.
Many have never had the experience of expressing themselves creatively and, for children with disabilities, few have the opportunity to collaborate and socialise with mainstream peers. We place particular emphasis on involving disabled children and teenagers with special needs who require help with mobility, communication or behaviour, to improve their educational attainment through building their confidence and participation.
We see friendships and partnerships develop between young people with disabilities and their mainstream peers. These friendships are built on the foundations of enjoying performing arts and working together and they do not see each other as different but as equals. We have also seen the difference it makes to their peers, bringing out their kind and compassionate qualities. They are aware that if not at Haringey Shed their paths might not have crossed.
Parents and Carers of our young people with disabilities express the lack of inclusive opportunities that are sometimes available to their child. We are able to give parents the chance to see their child just like every other child, their disability not being the focus of them but their ability to enjoy and take part in performing arts.
The inclusive nature of our work means that our child: staff ratios are higher than most mainstream provision as many of the participants in our programmes require one-to-one support. Around 30% have a disability or special educational needs
Our staff are committed and highly experienced in promoting participation by all regardless of age, gender, cultural backgrounds and disabilities and our volunteer training programme is tried and tested.
We also apply our inclusive policy to our staff team recruiting a diverse team including adults with disabilities. We offer supported volunteer positions helping co-ordinate transport, organising diaries and training within the sessions. Volunteers with disabilities express how important it is for them to feel like they can play a part in an organisation, that they are given the opportunity to work and have responsibility. It builds confidence, self-worth and satisfaction for the individual but also promotes creative and powerful work from the whole staff team.
Some of the methodologies we use within our work include:
• Inclusive working – all of the performances and workshops will include people with and without disabilities and special needs. Bringing people together and breaking down misconceptions is an essential part of the work that we do. We have a ‘no auditions’ policy, which means everyone is welcome and “everyone has a part to play”
• Devising – the work of the group will be largely developed through facilitating participants to develop their own material. We believe this is a powerful method for creating ownership, mutual respect, a sense of pride and achievement.
• Ensemble working – we use this to give people confidence to perform, to get people working as a team, for peer support.
• Modelling from within – all practitioners are expected to lead from within the group, modelling the attitude, behaviours and skills that we expect participants to exhibit and practice.
• Peer support – we encourage members of the group to support other participants. A good example is the Young Ambassadors; members of our Youth Theatre group will attend the Children’s Theatre and take part in the session, some giving 1:1 support to their younger counterparts.
At Haringey Shed we believe everyone has a part to play. We do not focus on a person’s disability and what they cannot do but what they can do. We celebrate individuals for who they are and together we create performing arts that we are all proud of.