National Youth Theatre targets isolation in disabled young people

Hattie Fisk
Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The new Assemble programme will run across London, Manchester and South Wales, helping to connect disabled and non-disabled young people and build a network of local organisations.

Alessa Davison for National Youth Theatre

The National Youth Theatre (NYT) has launched a new programme to address isolation among disabled young people in non-mainstream schools that specialise in moderate or severe learning support needs. 

The scheme, called Assemble, is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund’s Bringing People Together programme, and in Wales it will be delivered in partnership with charity national Youth Arts Wales. 

A network will be built with local organisations to help engage more disabled young people with the arts. 

One of the highlights of the programme is assisted by Gig Buddies, where young volunteers will be paired with neurodivergent participants to go to gigs, concerts and other cultural events such as attending the theatre alongside relevant training. 

Those who take part will also be supported to access further opportunities after the programme, such as progression into NYT membership, access to the arts and other opportunities with cultural community organisations in their local area. 

‘Assemble is an important next step in our growing national inclusion programme and efforts to fix the broken pipeline that isn’t currently serving young disabled talent,’ says CEO and artistic director Paul Roseby (OBE). ‘Assemble will bring people together, tackle isolation and empower young voices to thrive.’

Melissa Eaglesfield, deputy director of UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund, says: ‘Our ambition is to invest most in places, people and communities experiencing poverty, disadvantage and discrimination. I’m delighted that our funding is being used to create safe environments where communities can build new relationships in a creative space.’