Inspired by Stopgap
Joy writes a blog about how working with Stopgap has opened and changed her views on everyday life…
Almost 4 years ago I became an intern for Stopgap Dance Company, as part of my placement year at the University of Surrey. Since then, I have not let Stopgap out of my sight and this is because, I truly feel, that I have learnt more here than I ever have anywhere else.
During my placement I took on different roles within the company to allow me to understand how each area worked. These roles involved joining in with Stopgap’s weekly youth groups and other educational workshops, becoming a familiar face, taking on some administrative work, such as, stats for workshops and information packs for the dancers when touring and spreadsheets, joining the company for professional class as often as possible, allowing me to keep my dancing skills up to scratch and stepping in at the last moment as tour manager!
Experiencing all of these roles played a huge part in boosting my level of skills and many were learnt by being put in at the deep end and I believe there is no better way. When I finished my internship with Stopgap, I came away a more confident person, ready for final year, prepared for the work levels. I also came away with a brand new knowledge in an area I had never worked in before. My language, I believe is now more open, something Stopgap strive by, allowing and inviting people in and not holding them back by closed language. For instance if you were to say ‘touch your toes’ this might hold some people back, as not everyone can touch their toes. To make the language open you would say ‘reach down as far as you can today’. My patience and belief levels have increased even more, this came about from working so closely with our youth group members who taught me not to go in suggesting ideas, wait, ask what their ideas are, allow them time to think and they will suggest movement you would never have thought of yourself. Be ready to learn all the time – you can never know everything. A very important skill I learnt while working with disabled people is reading people and their body language, knowing when to be strong and put down the rules and knowing when it’s best to leave that particular person to their own thing at the side of the room and allowing them to join in again later of their own accord. Over the top facial expressions are also a very good tool when working with younger participants.
Working with Stopgap opened my eyes to what a great company they are, for who they are reaching out to, giving everyone a chance, not excluding anyone and seeing how their work brings happiness to all who join in.
Luckily, for me, I never truly left Stopgap behind and I now work for the company in a new role, as Laura’s access worker. This position has provided a whole set of new skills for me to learn, opening my eyes to access in general in everyday life.