Ok so I’m posting this nearer early evening, but it at least incorporates some of my late night musings!
I’ve alluded in previous posts to the fact that I facilitate a programme of workshops in my work on resilience in terms of what it means to our local communities and what it means for future public services. As part of these workshops, I do a little “resilience round-up”; essentially a whistle-stop tour through a number of projects/initiatives that I think are doing something interesting in terms of promoting individual and community resilience.
These guys first came to my attention through the Nesta/Observer 50 New Radicals 2014 publication. I make it my business to check these things out. A lot of the time there’s a lot of filtering required to get past the spin, but this year one project blew me away as soon as I heard about it – Stay Up Late.
In a nutshell (and please do check them out yourselves – never trust my view on these things!), they’ve identified the issue that because of the way care support is set up (usually normal working hours) many people with disabilities are essentially locked away from the sort of post-work late night experiences that people generally experience such as gigs and comedy nights. Stay Up Late (and I’m going to include Gig Buddies as well) try and change this by organising nights out for people with disabilities or matching up peers who can provide that bit of extra support needed to make this happen.
Reading about the concept, it really struck me how much I’ve learnt from stupid nights out and how important these experiences have been in my development as an individual and in shaping my personal resilience and wider resilience networks. And I felt appalled at the idea that something so fundamental could be locked away from some people. I felt extra shame in the fact that this challenge for people with disabilities had never ever crossed my mind, nor come in any conversations I’ve had in my professional capacity – and I work in public services!!!
I just love how they’ve identified an issue that would be so alien to anyone designing a public sector service, but that in a lot of ways could be achieving the sort of preventative impact that same sector dreams of. What I also love are the characteristic s of the concept:
• It creates new kinds of bridging relationships between people who might normally be separated by disability, but can be united by common experience and interests;
• It’s not about setting up special “disability” nights, but about unlocking the entertainment assets already out there (how relevant for a place like Camden where there is so much interesting stuff going on);
• It doesn’t treat the target audience as passive recipients – in fact it only works by understanding and responding to the wants and desires of people wanting to take part.
I’ve still loads more reading up to do on Stay Up Late and Gig Buddies, and my impressions are it is still early days, but this is one of the projects I feel a lot of the people in our workshops really respond to and can identify with in a positive way, because we can all remember a night out that shaped us.
I really hope these guys go from strength to strength and that it inspires more public service interventions to explore the power of the social in strengthening the lives of people, whatever their background or situation.
But as always, interested in your thoughts on the matter!