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By Heart of England Mencap, Sep 12 2017 02:02PM

THE PHOTOGRAPHIC skills and visions of local people with learning disabilities is getting an international showcase by going on display at Shakespeare’s New Place.

Through The Lens - the culmination of a three-month photography course run by Heart of England Mencap at its day activity group, Pathway – was first exhibited in Stratford back in March.

And now its reaching an even bigger audience - back for a six-week stint in the exhibition space at New Place, Shakespeare’s adult home, thanks to an invitation from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The exhibition launched on Friday (September 8) – and also includes a promotional display for Heart of England Mencap, which supports people with learning disabilities across Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

The photos being exhibited have all been captured by Mencap customers as part of a photography course. Armed with tablets funded by Stratford Town Trust, Orbit Group and Stratford District Council, they immersed themselves in the photographic process from top to bottom.

They chose locations and subject matters, snapped the perfect picture on their tablets and then uploaded, edited and printed their creations ready to be showcased.

The course was such a success it has since been repeated across the charity’s day services in Studley, Warwick, Leamington and Malvern. The exhibition at Shakespeare’s New Place will be rotated, to allow photos from each course to be displayed.

Val Rainbow, Heart of England Mencap’s Arts Co-ordinator, said: “Our photography course was based on different themes to help develop a variety of skills and to make the learning process enjoyable and interesting.

“Over the weeks we visited many outdoor locations and covered everything from windows and doors, to leaves and trees, buildings and architecture, textures, close-ups, still life, flowers and portraits.

“Everyone on the course produced really great work. It was a joy to watch them discover newfound skills – and to see their work now on display somewhere as prominent as New Place is just wonderful.”

Heart of England Mencap and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have forged a strong local partnership – with Mencap customers and staff part of the Access Panel set-up to guide the £6 million transformation of Shakespeare’s New Place.

They continue to advise on both physical access, and on making sure everything from the signage to the displays is accessible to people with learning and physical disabilities.
They continue to advise on both physical access, and on making sure everything from the signage to the displays is accessible to people with learning and physical disabilities.

Emma Birks, Volunteer and Community Outreach Officer at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “We are extremely proud to work with Heart of England Mencap on this photography exhibition. This project enables the skills of young people and adults with learning disabilities to shine through and it’s fantastic that we are able to provide a platform for them to present their creativity to a wider audience. The community board at New Place is a great space for community groups to showcase their talent and we look forward to working with local groups on new commissions.”

For more information on the community board at Shakespeare’s New Place see https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit/shakespeares-new-place/community-board/

Life through the Lens is on display until October 20th, upstairs in the exhibition centre.

Normal New Place admission prices apply, with entry free for CV37 residents (with proof of address).

By Heart of England Mencap, Sep 11 2017 11:46AM

HOWLS of delight greeted the Mencap Mudsters as they crossed the finishing line at this year’s Autumn Wolf Run at the weekend.

The five-strong team of Di Yeoman, Suzanne Hotten, Nikki Drew, Chris Howkins and Jenna Haycock, who all work for Heart of England Mencap in Warwickshire, put their bodies through their paces when they took on the 10km course through woods, obstacles, lakes, fields - and of course plenty of mud - on Sunday (September 3rd).

The event, held at Welsh Farm Road near Leamington, and described by Heart of England Mencap’s Media and Marketing Officer Di Yeoman as ‘the hardest challenge I’ve ever taken on’ has seen the team raise a fantastic £700 to support local people with learning disabilities.

Di added: “It was a truly incredible experience – such an overwhelming feeling of camaraderie, not just within our team, but from everyone involved.

“The sense of achievement and relief at the finish was very powerful too.

“It’s the hardest challenge I’ve ever taken on, but worth every second to know that the money raised will make a real difference to the loves of local people woth a learning disability.

“A huge thank you to everyone who supported us by donating to our team page - www.justgiving.com/teams/mencapmudsters - we really appreciate it.

“And a massive well done to my fellow team mates for all their efforts.”

Money raised through the team’s blood, sweat and determination will be used to pay for empowering leisure and learning day activities for the local people with learning disabilities which Heart of England Mencap supports.


1 Happy as pigs – nothing like a mudbath to boost the spirits

2 The Mencap Mudsters ready for action

3 Caked in mud and smiles – the team’s efforts saw them raise £700 for Heart of England Mencap to support local people with learning disabilities

By Heart of England Mencap, Aug 29 2017 08:30AM

LOCAL people with learning disabilities got the chance to compete in their very own sports day this week – thanks to a group of teenagers volunteering under the government scheme, the National Citizen Service.

The volunteers spent two days with the Stratford-based charity Heart of England Mencap this month, planning the big sports day, which happened at Stratford Leisure Centre on Wednesday (August 23rd.)

It saw customers from Pathway – Heart of England Mencap’s day activity service – competing against each other in a whole of morning of fun and games – from tennis to basketball.

Customers were also able to continue their metaphorical journey around the world as part of the national Mencap-funded Round The World Challenge - #RTWC – which sees them accrue ‘miles’ in return for hours of physical activity.

The national branch of the charity was represented on the day by Sports Engagement Officer Faye Dixey.
The national branch of the charity was represented on the day by Sports Engagement Officer Faye Dixey.

Commenting on the success of the sports day, Jake Thornton, Pathway Program Manager, said: “This is the second time we’ve were able to enjoy a sports days thanks to an NCS team and it was fantastic.

“Without the NCS volunteers, the Everyone Active Leisure Centre team and National Mencap’s funding, our customers would not have had the opportunity to experience new adapted sports, meet new people, make new friends and enjoy access to a healthier, more active life.”

Amy McCord, Senior Mentor for the NCS in Warwickshire added:

“We were delighted to once again be partnering with Heart of Engand Mencap.

"Volunteering with Pathway customers provided the young NCS volunteers with life experience they'd have struggled to find elsewhere and has seen them challenge themselves and their preconceptions.

“They were truly inspired by the kindness shown by the Mencap customers to each other and to us.

“The partnership has helped the young people break down barriers and gave them an opportunity to passionately channel their talents into social action.

“The benefit of holding these events not only effects those directly involved with Mencap but also the young people on the NCS programme - by working together we corrode boundaries that pigeon hole different people in society and build a more cohesive community for the future.”

Heart of England Mencap supports local people with learning disabilities, with services ranging from day activities to residential care, operating across Warwickshire and Worcestershire.


NCS volunteer Laura Baskerville with Heart of England customer Glen Merryfield

The NCS volunteers setting up for the parachute game

Heart of England Mencap customer Mo Potter


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