Project information

Summer Circus

Our idea is a summer of sheer expressive joy for disabled children from low income families (a circus summer school). Circus training is uniquely successful in improving disabled children's physical, mental and emotional wellbeing; it increases co-ordination, confidence and joy!

July 2015 - September 2015

Charity information: Hangar Arts Trust

Hangar Arts Trust logo
  • Need


    We solve 2 problems. Children who suffer both physical and learning disabilities cannot access the same joyful opportunities as others. Circus is transformational for them - but is not easily available - opportunities are few and delivery costs make circus too expensive for low income households. This is distressing for their carers who struggle to give them a happy life: they need our support. Their children need to make happy and joyful memories and their carers need respite they can trust.


    Our circus summer school, run by professional circus artists, trained in teaching circus skills to disabled children will offer: 1) a summer of 12 half day circus classes for the children 2) 12 x 3 hours of respite for their carers 3) an end of summer school performance party for the children, cares and their guests 4) chance to help us form a self-help group that might continue these activities each weekend after the project ends. We will improve children's ambition, confidence and ability.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Recruit a pool of up to 50 potential participants


    » We have partnerships with Greenwich Mencap, the local council and local disability groups who have confirmed considerable interest in the project
    » We have a group of interested parents who are keen for us to deliver a circus event for them during the summer

    Number of attendees and number of times attended. Feedback from children re: their enjoyment. Feedback from carers re: the children's enjoyment. Carer feedback re: their benefit.

    Aim 2

    Successfully deliver 12 half day events - that involves good attendance


    » Co-create a project plan with users so that it meets their (the children and the carers) needs
    » Appoint a facilitator so that all the administration and organisation runs smoothly
    » Get feed back from participants and their carers after each session to ensure we know what is working and what needs changing
    » Appoint only the best,committed and qualified teachers

    Attendance report and case studies

    Aim 3

    Creation of a final 'party' to showcase the children's work and joy - and bring the carers together


    » Creating a party showcases associated with circus is an activity that we specialise in - it will be amended to reflect the participant group

    Photographic competition - with prizes - which will provide us with a photo library

    Aim 4

    Create a legacy for the project


    » Create the opportunity for the carers to join us to plan for the sustainability of the project
    » Produce a short report to capture the learning from the project - and the experiences of the: carers; children; teachers

    We will share the learning report we have created with the wider circus community, local schools, disability support agencies and the Arts Council

  • Impact


    We hope to create the basis for a group of parents and carers to work with us to help us create a sustainable and longer term offering for our community of disabled children and their carers.

    We hope to add to the general cannon of knowledge around what brings joy to the disabled.


    We may not be able to recruit enough children onto the project - we have dealt with this by talking to Greenwich Mencap and to local parents groups who represent disabled children - they have assured us of a waiting list for such a summer school.

    We may not be able to run the project if we do not have the qualified staff - we have dealt with this by securing the commitment of the required teachers, first aiders and disability specialists.


    Via a link to the project report at thee end of the project

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £8,900

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £2,100 Space hire Exclusive hire of circus training space
      £2,880 Circus teachers 4 specialist circus teachers
      £720 lead support staff 1 lead support coordinator
      £720 support staff 2 support staff
      £1,800 Administration Coordination of delivery and staff
      £680 Final event Final performance and party for parents and guardians to attend
  • Background


    We are located in Woolwich Riverside, South East London, an inner city working class area of tower blocks and social housing (70% council owned), in England’s 10% most deprived boroughs. Transport is poor. Over 1200 people claim severe disability allowance and some 2000 local children are living with disability. Our pilot is inspired by a local youngster with cerebral palsy who cannot walk; he came to our local open day and was the first young person from the community to learn to fly.


    The children will benefit from happy memories that inspire them and give them confidence; they will become physically fitter and emotionally stronger. Their carers/family/friends will benefit as they all share in the fun. The disabled community will benefit as we challenge attitudes and position disabled children as capable of joy. Society will benefit as we learn more about the joy of disabled children. The teachers will benefit as they develop their understanding of those with disabilities.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We own fully rigged circus premises. We are experienced, sensitive, circus-skill teachers and health professionals. We are passionate about bringing the physical, artistic, vocational and social opportunity of circus to all. Our youth circus program tapped into the accepted benefits of engaging mind and body through sport and creative expression. We will mirror that success by creating programmes that are disability–specific and those where disabled and able-bodied people succeed together

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Katharine Ford

    CEO of HAT, psychologist, trained counsellor, ex-gymnast, fundraiser and business advisers to social enterprises, creative industries and charities

    Alex Frith

    Chair of HAT, dyslexic, ballet dancer, circus performer, creative director with 20 yrs experience of creating shows and teaching the young & disabled

    Nik Litton

    Director of Aircraft Circus, diabetic, father, BA (Hons) Circus, health & safety specialist, professional rigger, teacher and circus performer

    Anna Duncan

    HAT Project manager, dyslexic, BA (Hons) Theatre and Performance, performer, artist hasexperience of teaching the young & disabled