'Proper party' organised by adults with learning disabilities in Leeds but open to all in bid to break down social barriers

A summer disco event DJ’d by young adults with learning disabilities will take place in July to encourage people with and without disabilities to attend and help break down social barriers.

By Joanna Wardill
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 4:45 am

Taking place in the atmospheric Left Bank Leeds, a Grade II* listed former church in Burley, the event will be organised and run by the Party People Project and ten adults with learning disabilities from across the city - but is open to all over 18s with the promise of a being a “proper party”.

The Party People Project was set up by Leeds DJ James Heselwood and Bradford dancer Chemaine Cook with the aim of normalising spaces - such as bars and clubs - not often used by people with learning disabilities.

James, 34, who is also a founding DJ of Meanwood Radio, said: “It’s about making people feel comfortable in using those venues but also breaking down social barriers.

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Chemaine Cook, one of the founders of the Party People Project, pictured at a previous disco.

“So this event is open to anyone, over 18, to come along and party if they want to. We want it to be a proper party, with a bar and loud music

“A good party that everyone can enjoy.”

The ten adults with learning disabilities who will be helping to organise the party will also attend six workshops in the run-up to the main event, learning how to hone their DJing skills as well as make props to help transform the vast space into its summer theme as well as skills in event management.

The event was made possible thanks to funding from Leeds Inspired who provided funding for a similar virtual disco held online during lockdown.

Revellers at a previous Party People Project disco.

Like this event, the online disco was also organised by adults with learning disabilities from across Leeds who also attended virtual workshops in the run-up.

James said: “Leeds Inspired gave us a small grant for that disco online and we had a massive attendance at it - over 100 people on Zoom.

“So now we have the money to do it in real life and it will also be a celebration of the end of lockdown as well.”

Also at the event will be stalls run by adults with learning disabilities, art installations and street food from Luigi’s.

Leeds DJ James Heselwood, founder of the Party People Project, pictured with a past participant, Israr Abbas, doing some DJing practice.

The Big Summer Disco will take place on July 1, starting at 7pm and running until midnight.

Tickets cost £5 in advance and are available from Eventbrite, or £10 on the door. The event will be fully accessible and carers go free.

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