Open Day at John Betts House

In February we had an Open Day at John Betts House – thank you to everyone who came to visit our scheme!

If you want to find out more about our sheltered housing schemes and how to apply, please click here.

Opening our doors to older people in need of a home

We’re inviting older people on a low income and looking for an affordable new home to tour our Almshouses.

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“There is a real beauty in humans connecting through music”

Passionate about the “endless possibilities” of disabled and non-disabled artists dancing together, one of our grantees Turtle Key Arts is bringing our community back together again with its integrated dance events this summer.

With life slowly getting back to some sort of normality, many community organisations are relishing the thought of more in-person time with their beneficiaries at last. As Kelly Bray, Turtle Key Arts producer, puts it: “I am so thrilled to get back out there. Most of our projects this year are about getting people back together – they are so desperate to perform again.”

For Turtle Key Arts, creative producers based in Hammersmith and Fulham, that means helping disabled and non-disabled people find expression and connect through dance and music. Dancing can increase physical fitness but can also have other benefits for people with disabilities, like improving motor skills, building friendships and boosting self-esteem. But with 11 million people with a disability in the UK, many find themselves locked out of the world of performing arts. “People with disabilities are often put ‘in a box’ and given little chance of mixing with people creatively,” says Kelly.

Making dance accessible to all is at the heart of Turtle Key Arts’ work; it celebrates the power of ‘integrated dancing’ with both disabled and non-disabled artists. Kelly believes that this kind of dancing creates all kinds of creative and social opportunities. “Our approach is to bring down the barriers. We highlight abilities, rather than disabilities. There is a real beauty in humans connecting and exploring in different ways to music. They might be working with a wheelchair, or crutches – it makes you realise how much people can do. It feels like the possibilities are endless,” she says.

This year the team is bringing back two in-person summer projects, the Joy Festival and the Young Amici Summer School, which are funded by Hammersmith United Charities.

Joy Festival
The Joy Festival is a disability arts festival and is on track to run in real life this year. It’s a celebration of disabled and non-disabled artists through a programme of visual art, music, theatre and dance. The festival includes a week-long programme of integrated performances at Hammersmith’s Lyric Theatre in September. There will also be 3 big family fun day in August, with dance, circus and art sessions, along with creative workshops in the community.

Joy was founded in 2018, says, Kelly, “because there is just not enough celebration of disabled artists in the borough, and not enough networks for them to connect with others. We really needed to create a community where we can share stuff.”

Young Amici summer school

Another project is the Young Amici Summer School by Amici Dance Theatre Company which Turtle Key Arts produce, is for disabled and non-disabled people between age 11-25. This free summer school in August is for any young people interested in dance and developing their skills in a fun and safe space. The programme aims to deepen young people’s experience of participation in dance and spark curiosity and creativity.

Throughout the week, young people can pick and choose which classes they join and then take part in improvised dancing with props. The idea, says Kelly, is for dancers to use their ability as their strength. Then the dancers share their piece at the end of the week. Pastoral care is part of the creative process, so there are chill out spaces and experts who can support where needed.

The positive impact on young disabled people in this creative environment is striking, says Kelly: “I remember a young person who had learning disabilities – they were so nervous and thought everyone was judging them. Now they are doing solos and making friends so easily. It’s lovely to watch – they just enter the room so confidently and start dancing. One of our dancers says that taking part is the most free she’s ever felt.”

More information

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7 ways to improve your visual storytelling 

Want to make a film about the amazing work your community organisation does? Keep some of these visual storytelling ideas in mind to make your message unforgettable. 

By Carolyn Defrin, artist and Hammersmith United Charities collaborator. 

 

  1. Be specific
    Charities often have a similar remit to each other, working within the broad themes of ‘care’, ‘community’ and ’support’. To stand out from other organisations, consider a particular aspect of your work to bring the broader theme to life in an original way. 

    ‘The power of bicycles’ is a specific, meaningful story which shows how the project impacts many lives more broadly: watch here
     

  2. Be personal

    A great way to get specific is by telling personal stories from your staff, the people you serve, or both. This can be through an interview or someone telling a story. These stories open your audience up to emotional connection, allowing you to humanise your work.

    ‘An introduction to StoryCorps’ is a conversation between the founder and his young nephew that shows how you can be personal, emotional and humorous while clearly telling the story of your organisation: watch here
     

  3. Experiment with content

    How we tell stories visually doesn’t always have to be literal, especially when subject matter might be difficult (in the context of charitable work). Seeing a bird’s eye view of cakes being made or a close-up of a child’s green-painted hand – these images and perspectives invite us in emotionally, personally and memorably and enable us to engage with complex content in a new way.

    West London Death Cafe’s short film focuses on making cakes. This choice offers an unexpected and welcoming view of a charity focused on bringing people together to discuss a delicate subject: watch here 
     

  4. Consider all the senses 

    When we talk about film, we usually think of just sight and sound. But what about texture – how can you suggest how something feels to the touch? How can you suggest taste and smell, too? 

    ‘At home with: Carolyn Defrin’ is a short film demonstrating how close-ups of food can create a multi-sensory experience. Through opportunities to look at the texture of cabbage, hear the boiling of water and see the bright purple, orange and green vegetables together, we can be immersed in a new view of the story of migration being told: watch here
     

  5. Play with different points of view 

    Different camera angles and points of view will help you convey different emotions. For example, what might bird’s eye view or worm’s eye view help communicate? How might you share a perspective from a chair, or a building, or a specific person? 

    ‘Suspending Home’ is a film made by artist Khaled Barakeh that reflects on a project he made called On the Ropes where he suspended his studio as a way to reflect the groundlessness he felt as a migrant artist. He films from many different points of view to help capture this feeling: watch here
     

  6. Still photos can be just as effective

    You don’t always need live action footage – still photographs can offer a powerful tool in your film. When combined dynamically with thoughtful voice over, text, and/or music they can have just as much impact. 

    ‘Universality’ is a simple and effective use of pictures and voiceover: watch here
     

  7. Consider who is telling the story

    Consider who is telling the story of what you do. Can you engage those you serve to tell their own stories or offer their own points of view? Is there value in staff sharing their personal perspective on the work? Always stay mindful to the ways you ask those you serve to share their stories. 

    ‘Real Heroes’ is a great example by Rainbow Collective of children sharing their view of heroes during the pandemic. Through their voices, drawings, and music, we get to know their perspectives through a fully
    dimensional and creative lens: 
    watch here 

 


Find out more

Artist Carolyn Defrin worked with Hammersmith United Charities on our film project community@hammersmith, which provided a free workshop for local community organisations to learn about visual storytelling and filmmaking. Read about community@hammersmith. 

 

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