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I trained in acting with Graeae theatre company and toured in their much acclaimed production of Mother Courage. I did a performing Arts Degree at Newcastle College which was a major achievement for me, given the barriers that still exist in much arts training for disabled people. I joined Tyneside Disability Arts (TDA) and worked on a number of productions with ‘Get Off Our Backs’ Theatre Company whom they supported. TDA published my poetry in two anthologies of poetry by Disabled writers, Sub Rosa and Transgression.

 I took part in an Arcadea, (who were the North East’s Disability Equality in the Arts organisation) Mentoring Programme and was mentored by Caroline Bowditch and as a result of which I was invited to choreograph a piece of physical theatre to open the month long disability arts Mimosa Festival in the North East. The piece was called ‘Hangin’ Around For A Man With A Pulse’ was well received, and led to cabaret and stand up performances. I facilitated workshops with disabled people as wraparound activity.

I was also employed by ARCADEA as a project support worker for six months where I coordinated and facilitated a number of workshop based projects with disabled people from all parts of the community.

I performed in Theatre Workshop Edinburgh’s production of Marat Sade which toured Scotland. I have performed in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony directed by Jenny Sealey, which was an amazing experience, and recently performed in the Great North Run Million Opening Ceremony directed by Bradley Hemmings. Despite the isolation I experience I take opportunities when they are available and remain motivated and connected. My visual work has been used by Full Circle Manchester’s Noise project and also as part of a large mural in Manchester.

For three years I worked at Speaking Up County Durham, where I was an Advocate and Project Officer. I regularly facilitated groups of learning disabled people in theatre, craft and discussion, and supported a group to develop a learning Disabled conference about self-advocacy which they named The Kick Ass Conference hosted at the Discovery Museum. I am experienced at listening and ‘reading’ learning disabled peoples’ access requirements, as they can find it a challenge to articulate their requirements. I am experienced in flexible workshop delivery which means that I adapt the work as I go based on how the group is responding to the work. I have necessary skills in workshop leadership, in improvisation and adaptation, making people feel welcome and valued, I am aware when people are not engaging and find subtle ways to include them. Aware that groups can go off on tangents, I can decipher what is useful and then respond flexibly, or alternatively, if not productive I am confident to bring the group back to the subject at hand.

My Practice

For a while my practice felt quite stuck in a place where most of the work opportunities available to me were on a voluntary basis, and still are to some extent, and so I have been moving myself forward by creating new work, developing partners and engaging disabled people in contributing to telling the story of our experiences in the 21st century. This work was supported by Arts Council England, Little Cog Theatre Company and ARC Stockton for my project called Occupation, some of which was gathering the 21st century stories of disabled people. I specialise in working with other disabled people in disability contexts.


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