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Project information

Hands & Voices Singing and Signing Choir

Hands & Voices choir gives learning-disabled adults the chance to get together with friends, gain new skills and be a vibrant, visible and valued part of their community. Having friends, being creative and playing an active part in your community all have a positive impact on wellbeing and happiness

January 2018 - December 2018

Charity information: Accessible Arts & Media

Accessible Arts & Media logo
  • Need


    In recent years, changes to disability assessments and cuts in services for learning-disabled adults have placed vulnerable people at risk of becoming isolated, lonely and invisible. This has a negative impact on communities too, as people don’t get the chance to interact with learning-disabled people, leading to stigma and lack of understanding. We believe everyone can contribute to the life and vibrancy of their community, they just need the right support and opportunities.


    Hands & Voices will provide weekly opportunities for over 40 learning-disabled adults to get together with friends and develop skills in communication, team-working and performance. The Hands & Voices Apprentice programme will give members the chance to share their skills through outreach workshops, making a valued contribution to their community. The project will help build an inclusive community, making it an everyday occurrence to see learning-disabled adults leading workshops or performing.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To provide creative learning, training and social opportunities for learning disabled adults


    » Weekly choir rehearsals throughout the year, focusing on singing and signing, communication and performance skills
    » Regular training sessions for the Hands & Voices apprentices, focused on developing communication, leadership, planning and team-working skills
    » Up to 10 social events for choir members, including end of term parties, gigs and days out

    What success will look like

    Success will be engaging at least 40 learning-disabled adults in regular activities and training at least 10 of them to be apprentice workshop leaders.

    Aim 2

    To give learning-disabled adults a voice through communication training and a focus on co-production


    » Use rehearsals to teach choir members signing skills so they can all, even those who can’t speak, communicate with those around them
    » Hold regular discussion, planning and creative sessions with choir members, where everyone’s supported to contribute ideas and opinions

    What success will look like

    Success will be at least 75% of choir members showing an improvement in communication skills and in confidence to communicate with others.

    Aim 3

    To promote inclusion by creating opportunities for learning-disabled adults to share their skills


    » Deliver 8 community outreach workshops, planned and delivered by learning-disabled adults as part of the Hands & Voices apprentice programme
    » Give at least 3 public performances, where learning-disabled adults take centre stage, performing songs they’ve helped create
    » Opportunities for learning-disabled adults to become mentors to other learning-disabled adults and young people

    What success will look like

    Success will be engaging at least 600 people as workshop participants and audience members and providing 6 learning-disabled adults opportunities to mentor.

    Aim 4

    To promote inclusive music making through the creation of singing and signing learning resources


    » Create at least 5 new singing and signing resource packs, to include sign sheets, signing guidance, backing tracks, vocal tracks and sheet music
    » Make resource packs available to download for free from our website
    » Promote resource packs via our website, social media, e-newsletter, workshops, events, partners and networks

    What success will look like

    Success will be creating at least 5 new resource packs, at least 700 of which will be downloaded from our website for use in schools and community settings

  • Impact


    Outcomes for choir members include an increase in confidence, the formation of strong friendships and a sense of belonging. All of this will impact positively on mental wellbeing and self-esteem, helping members feel happier. The impact on our community will be changed perceptions of what learning-disabled people can achieve and the role they can play. Success will be at least 75% of choir members saying they feel happier and at least 50% of audience members saying their perceptions have changed


    Potential risks are failure to secure: venues for performances; opportunities for outreach workshops; and the funds required to deliver the project. We have strong networks across the cultural, disability, education and voluntary sectors with whom we have very positive working relationships. We’ll work with these partners to develop performance and outreach opportunities. We have a strong track record in securing funds and are currently building capacity in community and corporate fundraising.


    Donors to this project will receive quarterly email reports giving updates on the project, including key achievements and milestones. They’ll also receive invitations to performances and information on how to take part in our outreach programme.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £23,356

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £6,876 Weekly rehearsals 36 rehearsals (in term-time)
      £1,200 Apprentice training sessions 6 apprentice training sessions
      £3,200 Community outreach workshops 8 outreach workshops in schools, businesses and community settings
      £5,530 Project management & admin Staff management, fundraising, impact measurement, participant liaison etc
      £1,750 Resource packs 5 packs @ £350 (backing tracks, vocal tracks, sign sheets, sheet music)
      £2,220 Marketing Design, print, photography, films, advertising
      £1,500 Performances 3 performances @ £500 (staff time, venue hire, artist fees)
      £1,080 Participant support costs £30 per session x 36 session (transport, subsidised places, other support costs)

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Private donation £2,000 Guaranteed
    City of York Council £7,382 Guaranteed
    Rank Foundation £1,400 Guaranteed
    Arts Council England £2,292 Guaranteed
  • Background


    We support some of the most marginalised people in York, where overall prosperity masks pockets of deprivation. We’re based in Clifton, one of York’s deprived Lower Super Output Areas, according to the latest Indices of Multiple Deprivation. Several community venues here have closed recently, with more at threat of closure. Residents tell us they feel the sense of community is slipping away. We want to change that, helping people come together for performances, events and workshops


    Hands & Voices members include people with learning difficulties, physical impairments, sensory impairments, communication or development disorders, including Autism, and combinations of these. Other beneficiaries include participants at workshops, which will take place in local schools, businesses and community venue and audience members at performances. Audiences will include family and friends of members and members of the general public

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We’ve been using the arts to transform lives for 35 years, helping disabled and other marginalised people to shine. We’re experts in creating a safe, supportive environment where people can express themselves creatively and explore the world around them. Our work centres around co-production, providing everyone with the support and space they need to participate fully and have an equal say. Our work with learning disabled people is recognised for its high-quality, user-led approach to learning.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Rose Kent

    Creative Director, with over 30 years-experience delivering high quality, inclusive arts projects and learning activities and managing project budgets

    Hannah Thompson

    Our Accessible Communication Coordinator, Hannah’s expertise in signing and accessible communication is key to Hands & Voices’ inclusive approach.

    Alison Jones

    Our Project Coordinator, whose expertise in inclusion ensures that all participants have a say in how the project develops and feed in their ideas

    Chris Bartram

    Lead vocal artist, Chris is an experienced community musician who’s worked with organisations including Opera North, Phoenix Dance and Youth Music