Big Lottery Fund Chief backs dance programme at local health trust

An inspiring dance programme at a local healthcare trust was today given the thumbs up by Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund who have injected £115,000 this year.

Magpie Dance, a Bromley based charity that works with people with a learning disability through the medium of dance, has been backed by the Big Lottery Fund to deliver the programme in partnership with Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, which provides a range of healthcare services across the three London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich. The partnership is just one part of a programme of Magpie Dance activities financed by the Big Lottery Fund who supplied £115,000 in 2012/13. Thirty weekly sessions are being delivered at the trust’s Goldie Leigh site in Abbey Wood during 2012.

Peter visited Goldie Leigh to see first hand how the Magpie Dance facilitators run the sessions with adults with a learning disability. He said: “I've enjoyed seeing how the participants are given the space to make their own choices and influence what happens within a structured session. It's really important that lottery funding brings together organisations like these to work in partnerships that have positive outcomes for services far beyond the original project."

The sessions began with a warm up exercise. Facilitators Alison Ferrao and Annie Roberts started by getting everyone to take hold of a large sheet. This provided structure, eg where to stand, and a platform from which movement could be coordinated and originated.

Alison explained that this helps participants to develop confidence in not just their own movements, but in how they move in relation to others: “It’s about working with staff and patients to help them develop non-verbal ways of communicating with others. This could include eye contact, gesture and touch. Our aim is to help people be more aware of their bodies and how they interact with others – and this is the same for staff and patients.”

Avril Hitman, Artistic Director of Magpie Dance, said: "We are delighted that Peter came to see the programme in action. It's fantastic to have lottery support which is making a real difference to a group that we would otherwise not be able to reach. The programme has really helped to build the Oxleas participants' confidence and communication skills, to make choices and decisions for themselves."

The Magpie Dance sessions are run with participants from Atlas House inpatient unit, Tall Trees day service and The Older Persons day Service (TOPS).

ENDS

Notes for editors

Oxleas is in south east London and provides mental health and learning disability services in Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich boroughs, community health services in Bexley and Greenwich, and specialist services to Lewisham and Kent prisons. www.oxleas.nhs.uk

Magpie Dance was founded in 1986 by Artistic Director Avril Hitman. Based in Bromley, at The Churchill Theatre, it has established a national reputation for inclusive and creative dance. www.magpiedance.org.uk

The Big Lottery Fund awards money from the National Lottery to community groups and projects that improve health, education and the environment. www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

Published on 16th October 2012 News Release