When I first joined Wave for Change back in July 2021, I visited WAVE Cafe. As I walked through the doors of the United Reform Church in Muswell Hill, I was hit with a sensation of warmth and laughter. I saw many people of different abilities chatting over a delicious plate of food - something I had not seen before. Now, one year on, we are thrilled that Wave in a Box is ready to enable more places like WAVE Cafe in communities across the UK.
Wave in a Box is a toolkit to encourage and enable communities to set up activities for people with and without learning disabilities. The toolkit is available for anyone looking to start or develop a mixed-ability group, activity, or event in their community. Wave in a Box has guidance and resources along with support from our mixed-ability volunteers and group leaders and, crucially, access to our impact data. This is a culmination of the expertise and learning that WAVE has collected over the years, having run many activities and events for people of all abilities.
Wave in a Box was the result of a workshop held on 23rd March 2021. The workshop, run by Whose Shoes, was made up of a network of people looking to make an impact in their community and to create more genuinely inclusive places.
“Love the idea of using the WithNotFor hashtag – reaching wider communities… We can share with others and learn from them in the process. We're all about dance based in the NW but so excited to be able to connect with anybody, anywhere.”
“I would love to speak to people about setting up community projects so moving out of education is not such a scary prospect. I'd also love to learn from others about maintaining the balance of staff/ volunteers/ members and genuine empowerment. My pledge is to spend more time with people like all yourselves who inspire!”
The sense of community was strong and this set WAVE off on a path to keep spreading our message of creating places for people of all abilities. For an individual looking to make a change, we know how daunting starting out can be. WAVE has been running mixed-ability groups for 12 years now. All of our groups and activities follow a With Not For approach - meaning that everyone there is doing things with and not for each other. We aren’t experts by any means but we are just that little bit further along the journey to lend a helping hand to those who need it.
We know that mixing is a key component to creating a more inclusive society where everyone is accepted and valued equally, regardless of their ability. According to our research, only 12% of people often mix socially with anyone with different abilities, yet 81% are open to the idea. Mixing means breaking down barriers and misconceptions for people with and without learning disabilities, eradicating fear and awkwardness that can stop meaningful relationships from being built. Creating these places allows more people of all abilities to mix in their communities. If you are someone who is just starting to set up a new mixed-ability activity, who might already be running inclusive activities, or may only be thinking about starting something new, we hope Wave in a Box will bring you the hope and support you need to make this a reality.
On 23rd March 2022, one year on, we shared Wave in a Box with an invited audience in a celebration that brought together those who attended last year's workshop. We hope this will mark the first of many events to come.
We have been working hard over the year to get to this stage and want to thank our team, ambassadors, contractors, and pilot groups for their help and support in making the box. We also want to thank our funders; our Big Give donors, National Lottery Awards for All, and Postcode Lottery. It has been a rewarding journey and we are so excited for the next chapter for Wave for Change.