Leading Edge

DIY's Leading Edge logo; The word 'DIY' is on the left then we can see colourful stick figures balancing on each other. The ones at the top are pushing the words 'Leading Edge' up and away

Leading Edge is DIY’s ambitious Employability and Community Engagement programme for leaders with lived experience of learning disability. It began in September 2022 and will be funded for three years by the National Lottery Community Fund.

DIY Leaders are people who use their lived experience of learning disability to shape and co-lead creative projects that directly benefit other people with learning disabilities.

We can see DIY's Young Leader Charlotte posing with a young person who is holding up their Discover Arts Award Certificate.

Leading Edge enables DIY Leaders to develop their employability skills and access volunteering and supported employment opportunities in lots of different settings.

For example:

  • running drama workshops with children and young people with learning disabilities in local schools
  • working with adults with learning disabilities to develop creative community projects
  • training professionals like teachers, arts practitioners, doctors and other health professionals to make their practice more inclusive and accessible.Leading Edge Projects to date

DIY’s Leading Edge began in September 2022. So far projects include leading sessions at:

two young women are sitting on chairs cuddling hot water bottles

Staff at Burnley Youth Theatre really loved our hot water bottles!

Burnley Youth Theatre

3 DIY Leaders co-led two training / support sessions for staff at Burnley Youth Theatre in November and December of 2022.

DIY Theatre delivered 2 fantastic training sessions with Burnley Youth Theatre.  One for our whole team around inclusion, accessibility, language and awareness, and one for our workshop leaders specific to a funded project that aimed to upskill freelancers delivering work with children and young people who have learning difficulties, disabilities and access needs.
Both sessions were professionally planned, coordinated and delivered. The facilitators delivered high quality training and made it accessibly to all staff and freelancers involved. The involvement of disabled co-facilators enabled us  to gain a deeper understanding of disability led work and how this works in practise. I would recommend DIY Theatre to any organisation – artistic or not – as a way to better understand the needs of people with disabilities but also on how to make your space more inclusive to everyone’s needs.”

Rachael Bamber, Engagement Manager, Burnley Youth Theatre

Salford LCEP

3 DIY Leaders co-led a sensory theatre workshop for school staff as part of Salford LCEP’s Creative Directions CPD Programme in January 2023.

We can see a room full of people doing strange actions! A woman in the middle, wearing a DIY t-shirt is looking down whilst pointing up with her left hand and moving her right hand so quickly it's a blur. At the back we can see one person with their hands over their ears whilst another has their hands cupped behind their ears. A person sitting in a wheelchair at the front is holding a finger infront of their mouth 'shh'. Some other people are looking on.

DIY leaders really enjoyed their visit to University of Salford in February. The students all joined in and came up with really interesting ideas around good communication and barriers to communication.

University of Salford

DIY Leaders are co-leading 4 sessions for Occupational Therapy Students in February 2023. This will form part of a ‘Communication’ module at University of Salford.

I think the sessions were great and really useful in helping the students think about barriers to communication and feel what it is like to be led in an activity that is challenging and hopefully inspiring.”

Rowan Morris, Teaching and Learning Intern, Subject of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Society, University of Salford

We can see a group of 15 people posing for the camera. They are standing outside in a paved area by a seat and a tree with office type buildings behind. The group lok happy and some are doing the thumbs up sign. We can see that one has a suitcase and there are large bags on the ground

Amy with others attending the Transforming Leadership training residency in September 2023logo 'TRANSFORMING LEADERSHIP' in large orange lettering with the word 'NATIONAL' in white reversed out of an orange oblong underneath.

Transforming Leadership

Transforming Leadership is an exciting new national initiative to develop learning disabled and autistic cultural leadership. It is being led by Access All Areas and will run until March 2025.

Two DIY leaders are taking part in a funded training opportunity. Charlotte is following a co-directing route and Amy is following a governance route.

The initiative will be led by a network of eight Learning Disability Arts organisations:  Access All Areas, Mind-the-Gap, DIY Theatre, Blue Apple Theatre, Unanima, Square Pegs, Prism Arts, Hubbub

Transforming Leadership will:

  • Share skills and best practise in co-directing and inclusive governance amongst all partners
  • Create training and  pathways for learning disabled and autistic leaders in co-directing and governance
  • Develop relationships with local arts venues  to foster genuine inclusion and representation of learning disabled and autistic leaders.


The National Lottery Community Fund logo


Our thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund for their support for our ambitious Leading Edge Programme.




Arts Council England logo


Thanks also to Arts Council England for their support for the Transforming Leadership Initiative.