Our Salford – Made Perfect!

Photo: Our Salford – Made Perfect!

DIY’s New Skills, New Choices group share their great ideas.

The second term of our New Skills, New Choices drama course has been a great success. This term has seen group members exploring choices and aspirations, not just for themselves but for the city of Salford as a whole. They used a range of theatre techniques to come up with solutions to problems and practiced creative ways of pitching them to gain funding.

I really enjoyed the part where we thought about what we would change – I got to go into depth a bit more and get things off my chest.”

The course is open to anyone in Salford with a Learning Disability and not in work or education. It is designed to introduce people with learning disabilities to new skills, boost confidence and help people to develop lots of essential and transferable skills.

What we like about Salford

We began the term using drama  to explore all aspects of Salford – what it’s like to live there and to make theatre there, to work or volunteer there and how it is to travel around the city.

First we created images of all the different places we like to go to in Salford – and shared with each other where our favourite places were.

My favourite place is Salford Quays, because I like seeing all of the boats.”

St George’s Day Centre, because I love playing bingo on a Saturday night.”

Becky said her church for art, choir and karaoke classes.

Imagining our perfect house

We went on to imagine our perfect house; what it would have in it if it could include anything! Well, the groups imaginations went into overdrive:

Charlotte’s house would have a dance floor – but not any dance floor – a ‘Strictly’ dance floor, a theatre of course and a huge aquarium full of dolphins.

I’d have a cinema in it and a plasma TV and a heated swimming pool with Jacuzzis and a personal chef and did I mention the 3 Ferraris?”


Salford made perfect

The group went on to use a range of imaginative and creative approaches to re-imagine Salford. What kind of place do we want to live in?

We used drama exercises to  identify two areas which we know, from experience, have room for improvement – transport and access to employment. The group split into teams to explore what would make things better.

Improving access to careers and volunteering

Mike's ideas to promote volunteering

Amy, Charlotte, Mike, Adam and Scott focussed on careers and volunteering. They presented a series of images which showed why it is important for everyone to have the opportunity to “have a job, no matter what their disability” and came up with strong proposals to encourage this including providing internships for young people and a volunteer fair where young people could see what opportunities there are in Salford.

Improving transport

Becky, Rob, Ange and Paul looked at transport. They created rhyming couplets to propose 3 improvements:

More space,
puts a smile on my face.
– more space is needed for wheelchairs.

All drivers should be trained,
important knowledge would be gained.
–  Drivers need to be trained so they respect everyone.

The cost of fares,
should be equalled and shared.
– with a maximum cost of no more than £2.

We believe that our ideas are good, but how good are the teams at getting their ideas across to others? Time to meet our make-believe ‘Mayor’

At at the end of March, the final session of our New Skills, New Choices course  gave each team the opportunity to pitch their ideas to our make-believe ‘Mayor of Salford’ (played by one of DIY’s staff team).

I liked it where we had to persuade the [make-believe] Mayor to spend her money on us. This was my favourite part of the course. It touched me a bit – talking about my experiences”

Both the transport and employment teams were very persuasive. They had strong arguments and showed they were well prepared and able to answer questions to support their bid to secure funding.

It was a great way for everyone to demonstrate their confidence and creativity in getting their ideas across. Both teams won the respect of the make-believe ‘Mayor’. She was convinced by both teams that their ideas should be implemented.

How to make it real

After the make-believe ‘Mayor’ left, the group went on to discuss how they could effect change in real life. How can DIY Theatre influence the people who could really invest the money to make change happen. How can we influence the REAL Mayor of Salford? The group considered making a protest, using social media and contacting the council . . . or they thought it might be best to

“do a play about all the things we spoke about and invite the people who can make those changes to come and see the show!”

DIY’s Contribution to Salford’s Learning City Initiative

DIY runs a number of creative courses open to adults with learning disabilities from throughout Salford. We are committed to playing our part in ensuring that everyone has access to a variety of opportunities that help them learn new skills, make new connections and build a better future – in particular those people who often feel most excluded from traditional adult education offers and  training.

DIY Theatre Company would like to thank the following organisations for their support for this work:

  • European Union Social Fund (ESF)
  • Workers Education Authority (WEA) with funds granted by the government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Funder logos - ESF (European Social Fund) from the European Union and WEA (the Workers Education Authority)

DIY’s New Skills, New Choices course will resume on Thursday 22nd April, after our Easter break. Visit our  Creative sessions for adults page for updates on the courses on offer from DIY.