‘It turns bad money into good’ as new inclusive dance group is launched in Wrexham with money seized from crooks

Wrexham.com > News

Job : Fri, March 25, 2022

An award-winning dance club caters to a new legion of performers thanks to money seized from criminals.

The Wisp Dance Club has transformed the lives of hundreds of young people with disabilities since its creation by artistic director Cher Mather in Mold in 1994.

Building on nearly three decades of success, the club has launched a new group, Wisp Plus, based in Wrexham and inspiring adults with additional needs to explore the world of contemporary dance and movement.

They received a helping hand with a £2,500 grant from the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner’s Your Community, Your Choice Fund, which was instrumental in getting the new project off the ground.

The initiative, also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and the North Wales Police, is in its ninth year.

Over £400,000 has been distributed to deserving causes during this period and much of it has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using money seized from offenders, with the rest coming from Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin .

Uma O’Neill, Project Manager and Senior Tutor at Wisp, said: “We are one of the only specialist organizations in North Wales carrying out this work.

“Covid has been very hard on us as a lot of our attendees have had to shield themselves and it’s only now that people are starting to come back as they were so scared.

“This work can reconnect people and build their confidence and help our members live fulfilling lives.

“This grant will secure provisions so that we have enough members to keep going. Without this grant, this simply would not happen.

Wisp was inspired to expand his service when he held a series of summer initiation sessions last year from his main base at Theatr Clwyd in Mold and found two youngsters from Wrexham who took the bus and walked a mile to reach the theater before heading halfway. the session to catch the bus back home.

They were back the following week and Uma, 42, who studied for an MA in European Dance Practice at Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music & Dance in London, said: ‘Their engagement was frankly humbling, but the venue was clearly unsuitable and the lack of accessibility for them was unfair.

“So we contacted Wrexham County Council’s social services enablement officer, Christine Badwick, who surveyed service users and found an overwhelmingly positive response to the provision.”

Wisp Plus welcomed 10 members aged 20-60 to their first session and hopes many more will join in the coming months: “We want to support our members, listen to their needs and advocate for their abilities and voices”, Uma said.

“We are totally inclusive. We have members who are in wheelchairs, we have members who have both physical and mental challenges – we don’t turn anyone away.

Congratulating the dance group on their new venture, North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin said: “I am delighted that my Your Community Your Choice fund continues to support community projects in North Wales.

“This unique fund is a demonstration of the power of people in action, as it allows our communities to decide which projects should receive financial support through our online voting system.

“There is an element of poetic justice in using money obtained through crime to solve the problem of crime in our communities.

“It turns bad money into good and it makes a real difference because it is local people who recognize and understand their local problems and how to solve them.

“It’s a really positive aspect of the program and it helps us connect with those communities.”

Deputy Chief Constable Chris Allsop said: ‘I am particularly pleased that some of the funding will come from the proceeds of crime, so that the money is taken out of the pockets of criminals and their ill-gotten gains through the courts and is returned to the community. initiatives.

“It turns bad money into good and it makes a real difference because it’s local people who recognize and understand their local problems and how to solve them.”

PACT chair Ashley Rogers said: “These awards are important because they support community projects across North Wales and it is the communities themselves who decide where the money can best be spent.

“A lot of what we fund is aimed at giving young people something to get involved in in their free time, activities that can help build skills and positive physical and mental health.

“We want to support communities so that they are able to take responsibility for their own areas.

“Community groups and projects can do a lot to make communities safer, reduce crime and reduce recidivism, it also sends a good message to communities because it shows we are listening to them.

“The aim is to build resilience in communities across North Wales to help vulnerable people and fight things like the County Lines.”

For more information about Wisp Dance Club, visit their website. More information on the work of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner can be found here and more about North Wales Police and the Community Trust can be found here.

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