Head2Head: Involving disabled young people in drama

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A work experience placement with the Royal National institute for the Blind led to Anni Rhodes-Steere launching a theatre company for disabled children and young people. 15 years on, Head2Head reaches thousands of people across the South of England.

Social Problem

Theatre and film are often inaccessible for disabled people. Shows are rarely aimed at people with additional needs, and work experience opportunities are few and far between.

Solution

Head2Head gives young disabled people the chance to experience the world through drama. The charity tours London and South East England, performing multi-sensory shows, pantomimes and immersive drama experiences at schools and other locations. Actors use Makaton sign language and engage young people in every performance. Head2Head also offers a Work Experience Programme providing opportunities for young people with disabilities in all aspects of theatre craft. At the start of the pandemic, the theatre company started filming short performances, which it offered for free on YouTube.

Loan

Head2Head’s rental property was proving too expensive, and it didn’t give the theatre company room to grow. The charity needed a loan to buy new premises but was rejected by several high street lenders. Thankfully, Anni contacted Charity Bank and we agreed to lend Head2Head £315,000. The new property offers far more space and flexibility. Head2Head is also saving a considerable amount of money each month as the loan repayments are much lower than the charity’s previous rental costs.

Impact

Head2Head has big ambitions. The charity is aiming to create a large film studio and drop-in performance space in the new building. It also wants to recruit more volunteers and reach more young people, both through performances and through work experience placements. Ultimately, the aim is to remove barriers so that disabled people can fully experience and enjoy drama.

“I had tremendous support from the team at Charity Bank. They held our hands, coached us and guided us through the process. They were friendly and on our side. Without Charity Bank, our dream would have floundered. They bent over backwards to make sure that we got our home, our base. I am so grateful.”

Anni Rhodes-Steere, Head2Head’s founder and administrator

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,100 loans totalling over £400m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.

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