On 18 September the Access Fund will be open for applications again. We wanted to preview this by sharing some of the great projects that benefitted from funding in recent rounds. We've talked a lot about the Access Fund over the years. That’s because we’re proud of the support it’s offered centres across England to provide opportunities that young people might otherwise never have. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Access Fund is a small grant scheme aimed at eliminating barriers to access and inclusion faced by young people across England. Below are updates from centres who received an Access Fund grant:
Castle Business & Enterprise College
The Access Fund grant gave allowed young people at Castle Business & Enterprise College to have experiences not just of art but of life and the wider world. Many of our pupils have such limited life experiences and their world consists of nothing much more than home and school, travelling to and from both places by school transport.
Without the Access Fund grant the pupils’ experiences of Arts Award would have been severely limited. This provided a sense of pride and achievement which is rare for our pupils. The difference in pupils' confidence was noted across the school and for some pupils having the chance to access a range of experiences outside their normal life was transformational.
It gave them a voice, an opportunity to demonstrate their own preferences and skills to share these with others. The pupils with severe learning difficulties and no verbal language were able to access everything and develop their own interests and skills, because of the nature of the workshops and the planned activities.
One young person went on to produce an individual piece of work which was entered into a competition run by NHS Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group. This work won an art voucher prize before being framed and put on permanent display in the new Urgent Care Centre.
44 young people, the majority of whom have physical disabilities or hearing impairments, participated in RoguePlay’s work experience programme which offered the opportunity to work with a number of industry professionals.
Young people spent up to two weeks with the company, taking part in training sessions and workshops in a range of art forms, including aerial circus.
For the young people it constituted their first ever experience of circus-theatre. There were two young people in particular on the programme who were wheelchair users. Through the use of harnessing, these participants were able to experience aerial circus and this had a profound effect on their confidence and self-belief. It also fostered a high level of trust within the group and many young people became friends outside of the placement programme.
Through noting the personal effect the project had on company members when working with disabled young people, it has inspired us to engage the deaf and disabled community. Staff have attended two deaf clubs in order to expand their skills and two members of the company have requested to be considered for deaf and disabled classes in aerial and project work.
New Horizon Youth Centre
One of the accomplishments of this project working with homeless young people was the very positive development of Sandra (name changed). When Sandra presented first in the centre she wouldn’t stay in the drop-in, only feeling safe sitting in a separate room away from all the other young people (with the blinds down so that no one would see her). Her body weight was worryingly low and kept decreasing. Sandra was fleeing domestic violence and was suicidal.
Sandra enjoyed being creative. It helped her to develop confidence and to feel positive about herself and her future. Sandra also overcame her fear of speaking in front of others. She successfully presented research to other young people, discussed with them the visit to an arts event and led her own workshop. During lunch breaks, Sandra would start sitting in the drop-in in a corner watching the other young people, unfortunately still not eating. Some weeks later she began to get herself lunch and to eat in her corner. It took a few more weeks and then, to everyone’s surprise, she was sitting with other young people on the big table in the drop-in having lunch and chatting with some of them.
The Access Fund reopens for applications on 18 September. Next week we’ll discuss what’s involved in the application, but in the meantime you can find out how to apply at http://www.artsaward.org.uk/accessfundinfo