Since 1991, we have made it our mission to transform the lives of children and young people by creating opportunities to learn, grow and develop through education. Therefore, the focus of our funding is on projects that support all children and young people to have more opportunities and to expose them to this outside their normal experiences. One way that we do this is by supporting high quality, accessible arts provision for disabled young people.
Inclusion and access has always been at the heart of our grant-making, funding important projects and creating opportunities for young people with special needs and disabilities (SEND) whilst also calling on other organisations, schools and special schools and funders to embrace and follow our same ethos. Here is what Lead Practitioner at Westminster Special Schools, Paul Morrow had to say: “John Lyon’s Charity is a charity I know very well and one who listens. One who is flexible and one who places co-production central to their work and is possibly the most progressive funder I know of. A funder who wants to support the delivery of high-quality arts and culture that is inclusive, but also supports needs as they arise and actively promotes cultural change for its work and cultural inclusion”.
However, none of this happened by accident. We identified that out of all our Programme Areas, there were fewer applications that specifically supported children and young people with disabilities. Taking our own 30 years of experience, we engaged in conversations with existing beneficiaries and explored our grant-making practice. It was here that we discovered a disconnect between the Arts sector and special schools and thus resulted in Perspectives (2016) a Change of Perspectives (2019) and Stand up for SEND (2020).
Senior Grants & Communications Manager – Anna Hoddinott took part in the Cultural Inclusion Conference 2021 offering a funder perspective when it comes to John Lyon’s Charity approaching SEND. “I think it’s true to say that some of the most inspiring, innovative and impactful changes in delivery models [during the Covid-19 pandemic] have been for young people with disabilities particularly within the Arts and cultural sector”. If you would like to learn more about our approach to Cultural Inclusion, please click on the below presentation.
Change of Perspectives
In 2016, John Lyon’s Charity embarked on a change of perspectives journey after acknowledging its many years of consistent, place-based funding of Arts provision in its Beneficial Area. Perspectives (2016) and Change of Perspectives (2019) provided a medium for the viewpoints of these stakeholders to be drawn together for the first time.
After multiple conversations with Arts organisations, it became apparent that they had a huge willingness to work within special schools but often lacked the confidence, resources and know-how. This is where we, with 30 years’ experience were keen to bridge the gap to ensure children and young people with SEND were reached. Conversely, special schools expressed the desire to supplement their Arts offer by engaging their children in imaginative and wide-ranging Arts projects but were uncertain how to make this happen.
Against a backdrop of rising costs in London and often changing practitioners, lack of investment for both staff and practitioners, pressures on schools to solve the problem of disability-friendly Arts provision-with ever decreasing resource, and the difficulties for Arts institutions in identifying those with an appetite for embarking on this work – Change of Perspectives was launched.
Perspectives provides guidance to support the sector to be brave, ambitious and help them share expertise to create new and stronger Arts partnerships for the children and young people of North and West London with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
Stand up for SEND
John Lyon’s Charity has been a long-term supporter of Arts activities for young people with special needs and disabilities (SEND). Over the years, the Charity has seen huge variances in both the quantity and quality of activities on offer for young people with SEND and how vital the support of both parents and schools can be. Using our networks across the Arts, SEND schools, Music Hubs and funding sectors, John Lyon’s Charity has challenged these groups to think about how they work together to benefit young people with SEND. Perspectives (2016) and Change of Perspectives (2019) provided a medium for the viewpoints of these stakeholders to be drawn together for the first time.
Taking this one step further, Stand Up for SEND challenges the sector to do more collaboratively to ensure that all opportunities are the best they can be. We challenge our funding colleagues, Arts organisations and special schools to take these principles on board when considering applying for funding, developing projects or awarding grants by embracing the following calls to action:
- Accept the cost
- A whole family approach
- Build career pathways
- Inclusivity starts with you
- Find it, do it, share it.