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Beat It – Fab, Fab, Fab!

Beat it is a fantastic opportunity for adults with learning disabilities to share their love of music and performing with other people. Each session is unique and different to the next; no one session is ever the same. This I felt, encapsulated the person centred approach in which each person is encouraged to choose how each session is delivered.

Beat it empowers adults with disabilities to develop their self-esteem and confidence through the music and performing arts sessions. The laid back atmosphere encourages people to feel comfortable in expressing themselves and creates a journey of opportunities for the individual to discover within the community.

The confidence I have seen grow amongst individuals who partake in the group is phenomenal. Each session leaves me smiling, laughing and eager to attend the following week. I am not a musical person, however, my anxieties were put to rest as each person welcomed me as part of the group. I can honestly say this experience has not only allowed me to see how positive differences can be made through music and performing, but it has also enabled me to discover myself on both a professional and personal level.

 

Ashleigh


Everybody has a part to play

I was invited to partake in Imagineer’s Beat It sessions and must sincerely admit it was a wonderful humbling experience. The Beat It Launch session in BradfordThe session included drum circles, singing and learning how to use DJ equipment. It is a way of being expressive and creative through music. Everybody has a part to play, no matter how musically talented or able you are.
Everyone that is involved is enthusiastic and welcoming, whilst challenging themselves. I found myself feeling nervous at the beginning, but this feeling soon disappeared and by the end I did not want to leave. There were people of all abilities taking part, it was like a safe haven where you can feel relaxed and express yourself at the same time.
I would highly recommend anyone that works or volunteers for Imagineer to attend any of the Beat It sessions, it doesn’t feel like work at all and you won’t want to leave the session. You meet fantastic individuals and have fun at the same time.
– Humma

August Nightclub – Amy

The August nightclub was my first experience of the Beat it nightclub and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.DSCF2584

The nightclub is open to everybody, and it allows for some people who have spent their lives being marginalised by, and in many ways excluded from society, to get together and meet people from all walks of life. The nightclub offers the opportunity to tackle social exclusion not merely by offering the opportunity for service users to get out and meet people, but also in that by being open to all members of the public it raises awareness that there are people out there who, although they may need some additional support, should not be excluded from everyday life. Without events such as Beat it which promote social inclusion, people who may not otherwise encounter disability are made aware that not only does it exist, but that everyone is entitled to the same rights and access to society as everyone else. I like to think Beat it nightclub helps challenge mainstream stigma and preconceptions associated with having a disability.

What I witnessed was a group of people from a variety of backgrounds dancing and singing together, with nobody feeling left
behind or excluded because of the label that society may have assigned to them. Instead, I saw a room of people who connected over a shared passion for music and dancing and having a good time.

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Social work needs to strive to promote greater access to such events which promote social inclusion, rather than just promoting services such as day centres and respite services which restrict people with disabilities to meeting only other people with disabilities. The Social Work profession through adopting a person centred approach which considers the wishes of the person, including how they want to be involved in wider society, can adopt the role of advocate for people who need that additional support in accessing community resources. Social work can be used in this way to promote the rights of the person to access such services and the community as a whole, providing that Social workers are committed to putting the individual’s wishes and feelings at the fore of their work, rather than this being a consideration secondary to the maintenance of existing services.

By creating environments where regardless of age, ability, gender or social background people can get together and share a passion for something like dancing or music then we are not only promoting treating everyone equally, respecting their rights to access all that society has to offer; we are also breaking down those barriers of exclusion and hopefully helping those who have felt marginalised in the past feel like included and valued members of society. Just as you don’t need to know the name of the person on the dance floor next to you, you don’t need to know what disability the person next to you might have, because at the end of the day everyone is there for the same reason. The only thing you need to know is that the person next to you is having a good time. And I can safely say that everyone on that dance floor was having a blast.


Beat It Sessions Blog – Amy S

Having always been involved in community and volunteer projects, I have never really questioned just how important they actually are to local communities. I feel that I have perhaps always taken for granted the fact that on my doorstep I had a fantastic array of groups and clubs that from a young age I was a part of. But this has not always been the case for everyone, especially for Adults with Learning Disabilities. My recent participation in the “Beat it” music group in Leeds has made me realise just how valuable and important it is to have a range of community activities that are accessible for all.photo (3)

The sessions are all inclusive and with the wide variety of instruments available anyone can take part regardless of physical ability. I have always believed that music is a form of communication that transcends barriers of language; regardless of ability, music can allow for us to understand one another and to express ourselves in ways that can make others understand how we are feeling. This motivated my involvement in the project. On asking members of the group why they enjoyed coming so much, the answers ranged from learning new musical skills to meeting with friends and socialising. Many of them were involved in other art and music projects through different charity groups. So it got me thinking; if services had not developed in such a way, what would be the alternative?

The “mixed economy of care” was established after the NHS and Community Care act 1990, which introduced the idea that services did not just have to be provided by the Local Authority, offering an opportunity for other providers to issue alternative services.  But even though “Beat it” is a fantastic example of the varied and exciting services that people can become involved with, there remains to be a deficit of such projects. For a lot of the people who attend “Beat it” and similar groups, without dedicated people or the funds for transport to and from these group many would not be able to attend. These services although successful are not necessarily widely available and can mean that people are travelling a significant distance to attend. Without the availability of such transport, many would be left at home without access to social groups, or instead, slotted into an existing day service provider that does not necessarily meet their needs; it’s just available to them and accessible. But that is not the be all and end all of what a service should be.

Regardless of ability, services need to be readily available that cater not only to a wide variety of needs, but a variety of wants and aspirations. People should be given the opportunity to decide for themselves what they do and do not want to be involved in. If they want to learn a musical instrument, meet with friends or learn new skills then they should be afforded this opportunity, just like everyone else.

The “social model of disability” is a theory that I believe best embodies what the likes of “Beat it” strive to achieve. For disability is not about the person and their perceived degree of ability. It is about the barriers to inclusion that society creates by seeing the individual as different. But isn’t everyone different in their own way? We all struggle from time to time with certain things, so why is it that because we are deemed to be “able” society is to be more accepting of us and ready to assist us? Surely this is a philosophy that should apply to us all? Through “Beat it”, and many other fantastic projects like it I hear all about through the attendees, we are breaking down the barriers that are put up by society and challenging societal perceptions of what they believe may or may not be achievable for certain people.photo (7)

So not only is “Beat it” a fantastic resource for the community in terms of what it gives to those who attend, it also alongside other projects like it, strives to challenge the barriers that are created by society by empowering people through offering choice, inclusion and the right to decide what they want to be involved in; not simply slotting into a system that already exists. Because think about it, how would you feel if you had no choice about where you worked, or what you did in your spare time? It would feel pretty restrictive don’t you think? Would you be happy to accept it? I don’t think so.

Unfortunately barriers still exist that prevent people accessing such resources; cuts to budgets and transport programmes especially have resulted in making services more difficult to access. But I do hear regularly of more services like “Beat it” developing across the area. It shows a step in the right direction, a step towards delivering truly personalised care and support and for allowing people to have that seemingly elusive control over their lives.

I’m not saying that everyone should be attending “Beat it” because it is a fantastic service with a fantastic atmosphere (which it is). I’m saying that people should be given the right to choose which services they want to access, on their terms in their own time. In this respect, it is projects like “Beat it” which demonstrate what personalisation is all about; the right to choose, to have a go and then decide whether or not you want to stay involved.

So if you feel like you want to try something new why not give it a try; you never know, you might just like it.

 


It’s More Fun Together – Ben’s Blog – Normalisation

Normalisation – It’s More Fun Together

I went to the Beat It nightclub night on 6th March.

Normalisation

As a social work student I spend a lot of time in University learning about Inclusion, Normalisation and other buzzwords. I recently spent an hour supposedly learning about these things in Uni, the lesson was filled with jargon. At the end of the session I was still left with the impression of there being “service users” and professionals who were trying different ideas to help them which seems dis-empowering.

All Inclusion actually means is that people who currently get known as disabled should look for the biggest audience possible to show off themselves and their talents so everyone can see we’re all just people – who like a laugh, who contribute, who don’t need help and just want to get on with it.

Accessible Nightclub

All normalisation means is most people want the freedom to get on with their life, contribute, hang out with friends, to be normal not wrapped in barriers and definitions as many people “disabled” are.
Beat It Night club is a brilliant example of normalisation and inclusion, better than anything I have seen or even read about. It’s a club night where people who know about labels like disabled bump into people who have ended up with them in a natural “normal” setting. Mixing, having fun, getting on, having a laugh people soon forget descriptions like “Service User” and “Disabled” in favour of “the bloke winning a dance off ” “after you (at the bar) mate”.

Every Beat It night I have been to has been packed, every night has been lively and everyone I have spoken to has had a great night. When you go to the night – everyone drinking, chatting and dancing together you realise that actually doing inclusion, normalisation isn’t difficult – it’s just having fun together! Everyone is normal when not wrapped in categories and everyone who wants it is included in the party, in soceity – because together is better!
Beat It is an ace party, it’s held at Varisty Leeds on the first Thursday of every month and starts at 7..

…Come and be yourself!

Accessible Nightclub

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Diversity

Diversity

“Diversity is the one true thing we have in common – celebrate it every day”.

This statement really made me think about just what diversity is, and why it is important in today’s society. Ultimately, the concept of diversity surrounds acceptance and respect, and having an understanding that everybody possesses individual differences and is therefore unique.

Diversity - Beat It Nightclub

Diversity provides opportunities for each of us to be open to the things that set us all apart such as; race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and physical and mental ability, with an appreciation of diversity allowing us to truly accept people for who they are.

So why is there so much diversity in today’s society? This is due to both societal factors such as an individual’s background, personal values, core beliefs and upbringings and economic factors, such as financial earnings and even the individual’s opportunity to work.

Due to this diversity, it is crucial that individuals are allowed to live the life that’s right for them, which is a value central to professional practice here at Imagineer. This means that when working for individuals, we follow their lead, and listen to the goals and dreams they would like to achieve, before creating solutions together on how these dreams can be turned into reality.

Unfortunately for many in society, this is not common practice. This is often due to the fact that other practitioners are still following the professional gift model of social work, instead of the much more anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory citizenship model implemented here at Imagineer. This means that many are being ‘prescribed’ a package of services which are deemed to suit their need, when in reality there is a great deal of difference between meeting a need and allowing an individual to attain their dreams.

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Instead of this, social work should adopt the much more person centred citizenship model, which puts the individual at the very heart of their community life, with access to a wider range of resources which are often cheaper and meet the needs of the individual better than the services which would be ‘prescribed’. Adopting this approach would also take into account all aspects of diversity, as the individual would be able to select the services which best suit themselves and their own unique circumstances.

Diversity truly should be celebrated, as it helps to create the rich tapestry which is currently shown in modern society, as everybody has the right to be treated as an individual, and have their individual needs met. However, in order to fully celebrate this, professional approaches will need to alter.

Amy Haswell

Social Work Student



Beat It Nightclub: A Natural Environment – Ash Taylor’s Blog

Beat It Nightclub: A Natural Environment

Hi my name is Ashley Taylor; I live alone with a team of 5 members of staff who work over a 24 hour basis in various shift A Natural Environmentpatterns. I run a social event once a month which is held at various locations within Calderdale. I also facilitate a group of disabled adults who are trying to raise awareness of independent living and trying to improve the lives of people who already do so. The group is called TAG (Taking Action Group) and is based in Halifax; we try to inspire people both young and old to look into their future.

I attend the nightclub regularly and think that the beat it Nightclub is a natural environment to be in as a social event. I feel that when I am there you are treat as an equal and not judged on whether you have a disability or not. It feels natural to me as there is no segregation between people. Because I am from a natural environment I don’t see myself as being in a disabled environment in my day to day life and being segregated can at times make me feel uncomfortable.

It’s good being in a non disabled environment as it’s not patronising unlike some other nightclub events where one section is for students and another section was for disabled people. I have also been to other social events that were specific to disabled people which I found to be patronising. One of which was set up in a room away from the rest of the building which was there purely as a disco for people with disabilities. I didn’t like this set up as it feels like you’re being segregated from other people who don’t have disabilities as that would be within my natural environment.

In no way do I want to offend anyone who may of attended this event or even helped set it up or promote it, I just feel that the more events that are set up specifically for disabled people encourage people to remain within their comfort zone other than integrating with other people in the wider community. It is also in keeping with the medical model of disabled people and not only prevents disabled people interacting with non disabled people it prevents non disabled people interacting with disabled people and keeps people in isolation from the wider community. It can also knock the confidence of the disabled people as they could feel inferior within a social environment if it was not segregated. These are the reasons why I believe beat it works so well and why I attend and will continue to attend. I will also do my best to improve awareness of this event as I believe events like this are very important for raising disability awareness. I run a social event once a month which is held at various locations within Calderdale and it is never segregated from other people using the facilities.



Leeds Beat It Nightclub

The terms ‘social inclusion’ and ‘togetherness’ are banded around quite a lot in contemporary social work, and is a regular hot-topic within University lectures, due to the wide recognition of the benefits of feeling a part of the community on both physical and mental health. This research was first instigated by Abraham Maslow in 1943, who stated that in order to achieve ‘self-actualisation’, otherwise known as the ability to pursue one’s dreams and aspirations, one must first have a series of essential needs met, including food and shelter, and having a relationship with others. Despite the importance of social inclusion and ‘togetherness’ being recognised, there are very few who will actually put pen to paper and state how this can be achieved. Here at Imagineer, rather than putting pen to paper and writing about how this can be achieved, like so many have in the past, we have found it a great deal more satisfying to show you.

Leeds Beat It Nightclub

Unlike some others however; we do not refer to this as ‘promoting social inclusion’; rather, we like to keep things as simple as what they really are – for instance, we see this as “going for a few drinks”. So why don’t you come and join us? Our Beat It Night Club takes place on the first Thursday of every month, and costs just £6 on the day, or £5 for bookings in advance. This price includes access to a buffet, a drink and the opportunity to see our very own amazing band – The Outsiders! For more information, please feel free to contact info@imagineer.org.uk or call us on 01422 363 817.