The Disability Awareness Festival returns to Wanstead this month. Designed by people with disabilities, it’s the only fully accessible and inclusive festival in the borough, says Suzanne Wright
Each summer, Redbridge Council, together with charity partners One Place East, Uniting Friends and Redbridge Forum, as well as Vision, brings the annual Disability Awareness Festival to Christ Church Green in Wanstead.
Supported by local estate agents The Stow Brothers, the festival aims to promote people’s abilities and talents, challenge stigma and raise awareness of the support available to those with disabilities and to help them live full and independent lives. It attracts people from across Redbridge and beyond.
The festival has grown in size year on year, and this year is looking to be bigger and better than ever. There will be information stalls from charities and other organisations who are here to help people with physical or cognitive disabilities or mental ill health. There will also be workshops including mindfulness, arts and crafts, circus skills and more. Alongside these will be sports, food stalls and our main stage, which will be filled with talented singers from local services and beyond. This year, there will also be a fashion show, featuring creative designs from people attending relevant day services. Festivalgoers will be able to contribute to the fashion show as well, by designing their own clothes along the theme of climate change, showcasing their work on Wanstead’s own catwalk in the heart of Christ Church Green.
What makes this festival different is that it is the only fully accessible and inclusive festival in the borough. No matter what a person’s ability, this is the only festival which truly understands what people need as it is designed by people with disabilities. It features comedians, artists and musicians with a range of different abilities and provides information on how people can live independent and healthy lives. It is also the only festival in Redbridge to feature fully accessible facilities, including toilets, hoists and washing facilities for those who need extra support. This year, based on feedback from previous attendees, there will also be a dedicated time out space for those who may need to take a break for a little while, which can be particularly helpful for those with autism or other forms of neurodiversity.
Margaret Summers, chief executive of One Place East, said: “This is an important event in the One Place East diary. People using our services look forward to taking part in the planning, preparation and delivery. It is truly an inclusive and lively event. Apart from people showcasing skills and talents, it also gives the opportunity to meet friends old and new, find out what is available in Redbridge, check out equipment and gadgets to aid independent living, to try out new activities, and most importantly, to have a fun-filled day where you can be yourself. Truly worth a visit.”
The Disability Awareness Festival 2023 will take place on Christ Church Green on 9 August from 12 noon to 7pm. For more information, visit wnstd.com/thisability