Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


It’s a fact that learning disabled young people will have very different experiences growing up to non-disabled young people. At the age of 16, they’ll be seeing their friends finish school and taking up jobs or else be thinking about applying to college and university. Unfortunately it’s a different kettle of fish for learning disabled young people who will stay in school until the age of 19, at which point they will effectively ‘be retired at 19’. Those who are lucky will be assigned social workers who might find some kind of provision for them – a place where they can be kept occupied.

The likelihood of a job is slim. The best that can be expected is menial labour as no attention is paid to what they like or are passionate about. Without essential supportive relationships formed from regular activity and work these autistic and Down’s Syndrome young adults become lonely and withdrawn. This loneliness makes them vulnerable to forming relationships with the wrong people; relationships where they can be bullied, exposed to hate crime or be stolen from. The damage can also take the form of psychological, physical and sexual abuse.

At Hijinx, we use drama and theatre to turn around the lives of learning disabled people. Most of the time when people come to us, they have already withdrawn or have been abused and bullied. However, we have seen huge success with the people we have worked with so far. Hijinx offers a place to be creative and expressive; an environment where everyone is acknowledged for their talents and accepted for who they are. We have seen increased confidence and improved mental and physical well-being. We have helped prepare them for a world of independent living and providing those all-important, supportive communities.

All of this is fantastic, but as we have previously only worked with learning disabled adults too often by the time they come to Hijinx the damage has already been done.

Hijinx now wants to reach younger learning disabled people, before they become victims of abuse. South Wales currently has no such provision for young learning disabled people.

Our new project Telemachus (for which we are seeking essential funding) will engage learning disabled young people before they get bullied, experience abuse or withdraw from society.

Telemachus will be an inclusive youth drama group for 16-24 year olds. It will bring together a group of young people who are funny, passionate and energetic and all love taking part in drama. We are currently piloting the project and with funding will be able to establish it in January 2018.

Seeing the work that the participants do is a remarkable experience. As part of the pilot they are currently working towards their first public performance to take place in December.

We would like to embed Telemachus as part of Hijinx’s ongoing activity on the same model we have for our community group for adults: Odyssey (see film attached). We want to be able to produce full-scale productions, creating greater opportunities for the young people involved. If we were to receive the Community fund from Aviva, we would use the money to cover the running costs of the project. This would include:
- Rental costs for rehearsal space - £50 per session x 30 sessions = £1,500
- Staff and administration costs - £200 per session x 30 sessions = £6,000
- Telemachus production costs at Wales Millennium Centre - £2,500, including:
o Venue costs
o Props
o Costume
o Extra rehearsals
o Lighting and sound
o Associated staff costs

Project Video

Hijinx Theatre

Moment of Pride

Being new to the organisation, I have had the pleasure of meeting the individuals that Hijinx works with. Hijinx overall makes such a huge difference to their lives, giving such joy and a sense of purpose. To do this for young people too would enable us to make that difference to even more people.

Location: Cardiff