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Charity behind Plungington dance sessions for learning-disabled people celebrates 10th birthday

Posted on - 10th March, 2020 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Campaigns, Charities, People, Preston News, What's On in Preston
Jen-Blackwell
Founder of DanceSyndrome Jen Blackwell Pic: Gray Hughes

The charity behind a dance class for learning-disabled people in Preston is celebrating ten years of success.

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DanceSyndrome was founded by Jen Blackwell, who has Down’s Syndrome, to provide support for learning-disabled people through the power of dance.

The national award-winning charity runs inclusive dance sessions across the North West, including one at Plungington Community Centre.

The sessions aim to deliver leadership, participation, performance and training opportunities to learning-disabled people. Those without disabilities, but with an interest in dance, are also welcomed.

Jen, who is from Chorley, launched the charity not only to indulge her love of dance but also to realise her potential as a dance leader.

She has since become a champion for disabled people, securing a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services in 2019 and being included in The Shaw Trust Disability Power List 100, an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK.

Read more: Disability Equality North West celebrate their 20th Birthday at Church Street

Jen said: “DanceSyndrome is my dream come true and it’s helping so many others like me to lead better lives.

“Our workshops don’t only help people with their physical and mental wellbeing, they also ensure they gain the life, communication and transferable employability skills to help them find work and enjoy the same ways of living as all around them.”

Last September, DanceSyndrome launched a 10-week fundraising mission to mark its 10th anniversary. The Perfect 10 campaign saw £10,000 raised to help the charity continue to deliver the dance sessions that have become vital for participants, their carers and their families.

DanceSyndrome-performing-at-the-Edinburgh-Fringe
DanceSyndrome performing at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018 Pic: Rod Penn

DanceSyndrome managing director Dawn Vickers said: “In the current economic climate there is increased pressure on our resources and intense competition for funding, while the major funding streams we have relied on in previous years are coming to an end. 

“The Perfect 10 campaign helped remind the local community of how much difference we make to those who are in a vulnerable position and those for whom DanceSyndrome provides the physical, mental and social support without which their quality of life would be diminished.

“The £10,000 we raised is brilliant, but to survive and achieve our targets we need to carry on gaining regular support and donations.”

Read more: How these deserving Preston causes will benefit from local shoppers

Dawn believes the support of local businesses will be vital if DanceSyndrome is to continue to survive.

She said: “Joining with us on this journey can help businesses position themselves as champions of diversity, equality and inclusion locally and nationally whilst bring together employees united towards helping a worthwhile cause. 

“We recognise the commercial benefits of sponsorship available to our corporate partners as well as being massively appreciative of the financial contribution they make to our continued operation. As we continue to grow we are keen to partner with similarly-minded organisations, locally and nationally.”

DanceSyndrome’s-dance-Leader-team
DanceSyndrome’s dance Leader team

One such company is Preston-based Champion Accountants, which has provided business consultancy and accountancy services to streamline operations and scale the charity in line with its growth plans.

Russell Spencer, client manager at Champion Accountants, said: “Ten years is a huge milestone for DanceSyndrome, and Jen and her team are some of the hardest working people we have met.

“It has been a privilege to be part of its growth journey so far, and we’re proud to have been the company entrusted with helping DanceSyndrome achieve its social franchise ambitions.

“The work the charity does is truly life-changing for many, and we will continue to play a key role in the delivery of its services as this worthy cause grows to become a household name across the whole of the UK.”

DanceSyndrome sessions take place at Plungington Community Centre every Wednesday from 10.15am to 11.45am. For more information, visit the DanceSyndrome website.

Read more: Inspirational couple’s generous donation after they were treated together on RPH’s major trauma unit

Do you attend DanceSyndrome or know someone who does? Let us know in the comments.

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