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Speak Out Essex group for autistic people to attend last showing of Living with Luke at Harlow Playhouse

Communities / Tue 6th Feb 2024 at 12:38pm

SPEAK Out Essex group for autistic people to attend last showing of Living with Luke at Harlow Playhouse.

A group for autistic people in Essex will be attending the last showing of Living with Luke when it comes home for its farewell performance in Harlow this week.

Speak Out Essex – a voice for autistic people in the county – will have a stall in the Harlow Playhouse’s foyer area for the sold-out show’s final outing on Wednesday 7 February.

Adapted from the blogs by Steve Hannam – who stars as his wrestling alter-ego Danson Thunderbolt – the play contains honest reflections on having an autistic child, real wrestling and features neurodiverse actors.

Since debuting in Colchester almost 10 years ago, Living with Luke has been performed in schools and theatres across England and returns to Essex for the fitting finale at the Playhouse.

Speak Out Essex – run by voice and rights charity VoiceAbility in partnership with Essex County Council and the Essex All-Age Autism Partnership Board – will be present throughout the evening.

The group will be speaking to people about their work, which includes holding focus groups across Essex on topics such as health, diagnosis and education – gathering ‘We’ statements which reflect the views of autistic people.

Everyone from Speak Out Essex has lived experience, and this includes Essex-based Speak Out leaders – who are employed by VoiceAbility because of their lived experience to engage with and support their peers to have their voices heard.

Autistic people and their families/carers who attend will be able to chat to the team and take home leaflets about Speak Out Essex and how to get involved, as well as have their say through a survey (which can be completed on the night or afterwards).

Melanie Ditmore – Connections Speak Out Team Leader for VoiceAbility, one of the UK’s largest providers of advocacy and involvement services – said: “We’re really grateful to those involved in putting on this final show for letting us be part of this special occasion.

“If you’re going to be there, please do come and say hello to the Speak Out Essex team – we’d love to talk to you about what we do and how you can get involved.

“Our focus groups provide a safe space for autistic people and their families/carers to work together to explore what good looks like and possible solutions. We’re keen to involve as many people as possible in these empowering conversations and play a part in improving the lives of autistic people.”

To find out more about Speak Out Essex visit voiceability.org/speak-out-essex – where you can also find details of other upcoming events in Essex, or complete the online survey.

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