Tameside based housing association New Charter Group has extended its partnership with Oldham Coliseum Theatre in a move that will provide more employment, skills and personal development opportunities for its New Charter Homes and Aksa Homes tenants.
The housing group and theatre have been collaborating with each other on various initiatives for the past three years and have now extended their partnership for a further three years, allowing them to build on the foundations they have already laid in providing new opportunities to New Charter’s communities.
In the past year the Coliseum has enabled residents from New Charter Homes’ Somerset House, an extra care scheme for people with learning disabilities, to produce their own theatre pieces and perform them on stage in front of an audience. They have also worked with Aksa Homes’ women’s group on several occasions, including workshops with comedian Sajeela Kershi to develop ‘Mother Tongues from Farther Lands’, which was performed by established actors including Oldham’s own Shobna Gulati in venues across the country as part of Southbank Centre’s Alchemy Festival.
One of the on-going highlights of the partnership is the Coliseum’s Teaching Theatre programme, which offers NEETs (young people who are not currently in education, employment or training) the opportunity to gain hand-on experience in a range of skills including lighting, sound design, marketing and customer service, and offers support in finding further education or employment opportunities. To date, the Teaching Theatre programme has a virtual 100% success rate in participants going on to find work or re-entering education or training.
There are more initiatives currently being planned with will engage various other groups within the community, such as the students of New Charter academies, older people from independent living schemes and Aksa Homes’ female South Asian tenants, for whom isolation can be a huge barrier to integration within the community.
Janet Hall, from New Charter and Aksa’s Community Development Team said; “Many of our tenants have barriers in place that prevent them from engaging with the wider community and living their lives to their full potential. It is hoped that by making local culture more accessible not only to New Charter and Aksa’s tenants, but to residents of Oldham and Tameside in general, we can help to break down those barriers and improve community relations. As such, we’re extremely excited to be able to continue working with the theatre and we look forward to developing new and interesting projects together.”