At Independence project & Clubs we aim to provide a multitude of activities so that people can participate in new experiences and in things that they enjoy. From our own research we became aware that there are no live music events in Chelmsford to support the learning disability community, certainly club nights are just not happening. However, if you know of any events, please let us know in the comment section.

We have sprung into action to make a change! On the 27th July we are launching IndepenDANCE Club Nights. We have partnered with Eazee Learning and the Hot Box. Both organisations share our ethos and always go the extra mile whilst making a difference in their communities, so it’s the perfect match! We are excited and hopeful that we will be able to create a real buzz around these nights. Ultimately, enabling people with additional needs the opportunity to let their hair down, have a drink and most importantly have a DANCE! This will be carried out in a safe environment with staff on hand to support the people in attendance to enjoy their night with the confidence that there are people around them to help. Our music acts will be showcasing the superb talent within the additional needs community and the DJs providing the entertainment themselves have additional needs, playing the best in House, UK garage and Club Classics.   

Please book tickets here

We are hopeful to put on many live music events in the future and they will always be run like any other club night, promoting inclusion and diversity, and enabling people to enjoy real life experiences. Please spread the message and help us to make them a success. Let’s Go!

Why are we doing this?

Let’s talk social lives! Many of us take it for granted to simply be able to go out and meet up with friends for a meal or a drink in the evening. We think nothing of being able to book tickets to a music event, jump on a train and off we go for a night out! Great fun…..

For many people with additional needs, it’s not that simple. They rely on family members or carers to access social events within the community. This is due to needing support from the staff for a variety of reasons. This could be due to needing help; physically, travelling to and from places, paying for entry/items, support if they become overwhelmed or just the feeling of security and knowing someone is there to help with any problems that may occur. Some may even have a carer to help with personal care. Support providers and carers employed by them are integral to living a life without any boundaries. These carers are the key to improving inclusion and tackling vulnerability. We don’t want to go into the difficulties that the care sector faces with finances and funding. We are all too aware that the care sector needs better funding and many carers are overworked and under paid.

This article is about tackling a mindset and making a shift for the good of the people that we all support. Accessing the nightlife environment is all part of growing up, and for many of us where our happy memories lay. It’s a crucial part of being fully included in society. There are risks involved with this, but that’s life, we make basic risk assessments and judgements continually just living day to day life. So, with all risks we must plan and think ahead. Part of that planning needs to come from the support providers and who is going to staff and support the person.  If the event the individual wants to attend occurs during a shift change or what is seen as unsociable hours to work, then reasonable adjustments need to be made and flexibility sought. What happens when they are at an event and their carer finishes their shift halfway through? Or the organisation doesn’t have flexible hours so isn’t able to plan for events outside of their working day? Why should people with disabilities miss out on what they enjoy?

Our staff have seen it first hand during a day trip out where one of our clients had a personal assistant with them who they employed directly. The day activity was running over the time that we had estimated due to traffic and trying to give the clients the full experience of the day. The carer, however, was meant to be finishing her shift and was becoming quite concerned regarding this. Whilst the carer was being as discrete as possible sorting out this problem, the person she was working with picked up on the atmosphere and started to become anxious. After a lot of phone calls it was agreed that the carer would stay and be able to swap a shift later on in the week with another person from her company. As carers we all need to understand that sometimes things don’t go to plan and flexibility is required. We continually have to think on our feet and react to what is in front of us. By the very nature of the job it’s an unpredictable environment. But what we must always aim to achieve is the best outcomes for the people we support!

In no way are we saying that carers and organisations do not want to give the clients the best time they can, but they are restricted by their hours and what they are told to do by their companies. Not only can it be frustrating for those who need a carer but also for the carers themselves. Most carers and personal assistants want to give the people they are working with access to the community like a neurotypical person and enjoy every opportunity. Therefore, for them to work under such time constraints can be challenging.

Carers shifts are only one part of the reason that people with additional needs end up missing out on nightlife events. Some people live in supported housing or homes where they have a curfew. Most do not have keys therefore, after curfew it may be that they cannot get back into their homes. This can cause anxiety for the people that live there as they become concerned about making sure they can get back in time, preventing them access to the things in life they want to do.

A charity called ‘Stay up Late’ noticed the need for change and has driven this forward highlighting many broader issues that people with disabilities face. Paul Richards was a founding member of a punk rock band which was mainly made up of musicians with learning difficulties, and the band noticed how people in the crowd at gigs who had learning difficulties would often need to leave early due to carers finishing shifts. The experience inspired Paul to set up the charity and run a befriending project that could allow people with learning difficulties to stay out late and fully enjoy gigs, concerts, club nights and other cultural events by matching them with a volunteer who could serve as a ‘Gig Buddy’. Starting off in Sussex, the initiative now operates in 12 cities across the UK, and in 2021 Stay Up Late also launched a new project, ‘Sports Buddies’, to pair up people with and without learning disabilities to undertake regular exercise together. Check out their website to find out about the amazing work the charity does. #nobedtimes

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