Cambridge Junction will be the first recipient of the Tees Better Future Fund. The £5,000 grant has been awarded to its Total Arts group for disabled young people aged 13-25.

Cambridge Junction’s Total Arts programme has been running for 12 years and focuses on providing creative learning opportunities to young disabled people. It provides opportunities for 13-25 year-olds, with a range of physical and learning disabilities, to develop their skills at their performing arts groups. Participants can explore their passions for the arts, learn new skills and make films. As their confidence has grown, some are now ready to take on leadership roles and share their skills with the next generation of disabled young people. Total Arts ‘graduates’ are excellent role models, exemplifying how young people with complex needs can grow their skills and play a valuable role in sharing their expertise.

A £5,000 grant from the Tees Better Future Fund will fund an expansion of the Total Arts programme, so that ‘graduate’ trainers work alongside an art producer and a filmmaker to work with young people from Castle SEN School (on Courtney Way in Cambridge) and the new autism specialist Cavendish School (in Impington). It will also enable both the Castle SEN school and the Cavendish specialist school pupils to attend a professional arts venue and performance, experiencing the magic of live theatre.

The project will start with attendance at The Nutcracker, Cambridge Junction’s inclusive Christmas show, created by Moxie Brawl’s company of disabled and non-disabled artists. This will be followed by a tailored workshop and film-making sessions in the spring. The workshops will include skills-building around story-telling, devising and scripting scenes and shooting and creating a film. The films created will be celebrated next summer at the Total Arts Film Festival.

The support from the Tees Better Future Fund will allow for intergenerational skills development for both the Total Arts ‘graduates’ as they become trainers, as well as the pupils from these schools. The trainers receive paid work and experience, and the pupils are helped to imagine how they might develop their interests in a realistic and meaningful way.

Janine Collier, Co-Head of Tees’ Social Responsibility, said, “Cambridge Junction is a charity embedded within our community just like Tees. I love that the vision that they have for the extension of the Total Arts programme – it is perfectly aligned with the vision we have for seeing lives changed through the Better Future Fund. The programme is inter-generational and sustainable. It creates opportunities for young people with complex needs to learn, build skills and increase in confidence, improving mental health and well-being as they explore their passion for the creative arts, connecting people and communities. We look forward to partnering with Cambridge Junction over the forthcoming months, to hearing the lived experience of the participants and to seeing lives changed”.

Mhari Gallagher, Secondary Therapeutic School Lead at Castle School, said, “The work that the funding from Tees will enable us to do with Cambridge Junction will be phenomenal. It will build on what we have already done, the outcomes for our students have been everything we strive to nurture in them: confidence, the ability to express themselves creatively; opportunities to work with professionals; a sense of joy and pride in their work and the chance to have a voice within their community. Thank you so much to all who support us. Students and staff remain inspired, excited and truly grateful”.

Find out more about the Tees Better Future Fund