Our work changes the lives of our actors and participants.
In our recent impact report, actors and their families talked about the happiness and joy they experienced and reported that their confidence and self-esteem have improved as a result of working with Hijinx.
Actors and participants have created new friendships, feel accepted within their group and have broadened their experiences of other people’s lives and other cultures.
Parents feel that Hijinx is a positive and forward-thinking organisation which provides a very good unique experience for people with learning disabilities, helping actors and participants with learning disabilities to achieve their potential and become more independent.
Catrin joined Hijinx in 2015. Before this she found making friends difficult and had never made any real friendships. She often felt isolated and suffered from anxiety and depression and her learning disability made her feel that she didn’t fit in.
One day, Catrin’s mum went to an event at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff where she saw groups of young people with learning disabilities, similar in age to her daughter, who were chatting and getting food in the bar. She discovered they were Hijinx actors rehearsing for their latest performance and went home and persuaded her daughter to go to the show. Catrin came out of the show inspired, excited and desperate to join Hijinx. She wrote a letter to the lead actor, and despite living two hours away from Cardiff, her parents made the commitment to drive her to the weekly Hijinx workshops.
Catrin loved it right from the start. She started to make friends and learn new skills. On stage she blossomed and gave mesmerising performances that surprised the Hijinx staff and her parents. Her mum was delighted.
In 2018, Catrin was chosen to represent Hijinx on an international tour. It was the first time she had been on an aeroplane and travelled without her parents. Since then, she has received paid acting work and travelled to over six countries as a part of a global touring show.
As a result of her work with Hijinx and the support she received from social services, Catrin made the decision to live independently a year ago.
She found something she really enjoyed. Up until then she never had. She wanted to go every week. Hijinx is something that makes her happy. Her confidence has grown.
I’m now an independent person who is confident to go travelling.
(All of the above quotes are real and come from Hijinx actors, participants and their parents. In the interests of protecting individuals’ identities Catrin is a composite character.)
Hijinx Academies are run as a professional company with professional standards similar to those found in universities or at drama school. In 2019, all Hijinx actors gained at least one paid job in roles including supporting communications training for staff in a variety of workplaces, airports, legal practices and with medical teams. Paid work is hugely important to actors – and not just for the financial benefits; it also increases independence and self-esteem.
Our staff have reported increased confidence in their work as a result of working with Hijinx and talked about the changes in attitude they and their families had experienced towards people with learning disabilities. They reported lasting bonds and strong friendships and talked about the supportive, family feeling of the organisation and confidence in the leadership.
Partners and funders feel that working with Hijinx has helped them to value neurodiversity in many ways, for example, increasing their inclusivity and encouraging them to reflect on their intentions and actions about ‘portrayal’.
It’s clear that Hijinx benefits everyone, but especially our outstanding performers.
They step into their power. There’s a real strut about them for not only getting the job and doing it well, but getting paid and being a colleague rather than a student.
They get a discipline. A sense of self-reliance. A resilience. The self-esteem is huge from being considered in a professional role.
It is massively empowering for them. The bragging rights do them wonders! Being able to say to their families – I know how this works.