Blackburn based ‘Sliding Doors’ are one of five groups competing in the Granada region for £50,000 of National Lottery funding in the People’s Projects competition.
Sliding Doors currently run a thriving social group at Rovers’ Blues Bar, which provides a rare opportunity for people with disability to get out, create friendships & participate in ‘normal’ life.
Mohammed Ijaz, who works for Select Support Partnerships, feels the group offers a real opportunity for his service users to enjoy and express themselves.
“We’ve been attending Sliding Doors for the past 2 years, every Thursday,” said Ijaz. “There’s a good atmosphere, the service users really like it and love winning at the bingo, it’s a real party for them.
It’s great for them to have something to look forward to. It gets them out of the house, it builds their confidence and it offers them the chance to socialise with others, so it is of a massive benefit to them.”
Elizabeth who attends Sliding Doors regularly and is a big Rovers supporter explains how much the group means to her,
“I like coming and I also enjoy helping out. It makes me happy coming here because I get to talk to people, dance with them and sing karaoke.”
Should Sliding Doors obtain the most votes, the prize money would be used to take this life-changing work to the next level and bring together two of society’s most isolated groups: people with disability and older people.
In a bid to combat Lancashire’s ‘loneliness epidemic’, Sliding Doors pledge to do the following should they win the £50,000 prize:
- Start a mobile Afternoon Tea program among local residential homes and sheltered housing. Run by people with disability, the service would provide tea, cakes and, crucially, company to those that might otherwise have no opportunity to meet people at all
- Open a drop-in Hub, run by people with disabilities for the local community with a program of activities e.g. healthy cooking & lunch club, meditation and movement, music making and creative arts
- Launch a weekly ‘tea dance night out’ hosted by people with disabilities and provides an opportunity for older people to remain social and stay active by having a dance, watching an entertainer or enjoying a drink and a chat.
Founder of Sliding Doors Julie Astley says the project will give a sense of purpose and meaning to hundreds of vulnerable people:
"Loneliness is awful, it’s sad, it’s isolating and it’s completely unnecessary. Our most vulnerable people often have the most to give; they just never get a chance to shine. Yet, when people realise that they’re not defined by their age or disability, a spark emerges from deep inside and perhaps for the first time ever they can be themselves. And that spark doesn’t go out when the activity ends, it stays with them, it connects them to other people and it quite literally transforms their entire lives. Sliding doors want to create a world that is Open for All"
Sliding Doors will showcase their project, Open for All on Granada News at 6pm on Wednesday 22nd March.