News Story

We have been selected by The Big Give to be part of a national campaign called Arts For Impact, giving us an opportunity for all donations to be doubled over a short period of time. During this week we are raising funds towards our Bridges Group, which delivers life affirming work with young people and adults with additional needs.

Gaynor Caldwell and her son, Joe.

We asked a parent of one of the participants to tell us more about what the group means to her and her son.

Read more from Gaynor about Joe's experience at the Octagon...

How would you describe the bridges group?

It’s a great opportunity for young adults to come together and work on something really valuable to their lives. It’s not just a social opportunity it’s a learning environment. Because its based in the theatre it makes it more special for my son as he is an aspiring actor. The group is a community, almost a family, I see individuals grow each time I watch a new performance.

What made you decide to sign up for the group?

I think it’s because the group has a purpose. Some of the activities they do with the young adults improve communication; speaking skills, listening skills expressive language are all really useful. My son did not say his first word until he was 7 and it wasn’t until he moved schools at 16 that his ability to create sentences started. I found out about the group and thought it would help him improve his language skills and it most certainly did. It is a safe environment, where he is not judged, no one says he can’t do something, there are no barriers to being a part of the Octagon community.

It is a safe environment, where he is not judged, no one says he can’t do something, there are no barriers to being a part of the Octagon community.

- Gaynor Caldwell - Parent of Participant
What are your favourite things about bridges?

I would have to say the people are up there amongst my favorite things. There is often a really lovely group of staff who come up with some amazing activities for the group. They draw on all their own acting training skills to cascade these skills to the young adults. I admire their persistence in getting across ideas and concepts as its not an easy group to manage with so many different support needs.

Do you have any particularly positive memories of past performances/ projects?

The day the young adults actually performed on the Octagon stage will forever be in my mind. For many years as the stage was set up for performamces and at times when the refurbishment was taking place the areas used for the Bridges performances varied. I knew the day would finally arrive when they could perform on the stage. It was wonderful to see them enjoying the ‘fame’ and glory they took a million bows!

Have you noticed any positive changes in the participant since they started joining the group?

Absolutely yes, as an autistic individual he has also learned very valuable life skills such as turn taking and listening to others. Learning lines for plays has taught him to concentrate, to take pride in his performance skills. It has also impacted on his ability to see things from the point of view of others and be more patient with others.

Anything else you would like to share with us?

The group means the world to my son, seeing him in performances makes me so proud. He has been a part of many groups over the years, but nothing quite like Bridges, which is why we keep coming back. The theatrical backdrop, the opportunity to learn performance skills, the chances to be nurtured by artists, all make this a very unique experience and I am really grateful my son has the opportunity to belong to this amazing group.

Donate today

Donate by 26 March to double your donation and double the difference!