When Barnabas started a course with ActOne ArtsBase in St Albans, he was daunted at the prospect of meeting new people. But he gained such a boost in confidence that he has just completed a ten week dance tour of schools across Hertfordshire – something he never thought he would accomplish.

Barnabas, who has moderate learning difficulties, took part in the Creative Opportunity programme, which was funded through a Community Grant from Watford-based workforce development provider TCHC.

The 22-year-old, who lives in Gadebridge Road, explained that the two-week course included music, dance and drama activities. He said: “I’d never done anything like it before and was really nervous about meeting new people at first.

“But I got stuck in; I made up my own choreography and did leadership exercises where I was in charge of other people. I learned so much.”

The Creative Opportunity programme also took participants through activities aimed at gaining employment, including CV writing and creating portfolios. 

The course ignited a love of dance in Barnabas, and he has since been an active member of ActOne’s graduate touring group the Freedom Dance Company. Together, members have just completed a ten-week tour of schools across Hertfordshire, performing a dance piece entitled After the Rain. 

“I really enjoyed it,” said Barnabas, a former student of The Collett School. “As well as our dance we did workshops with the pupils, who were aged between 11 and 16. I’m now working on putting on a dance event and am going to go for my gold Arts Award.”

He added: “I’m really grateful to ActOne, as I don’t think I would be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t done the course.”

The Community Grant was awarded to ActOne ArtsBase by application managers TCHC, with the overall project fund coming from the European Social Fund and the Skills Funding Agency. TCHC was awarded £2.4 million in total to be distributed amongst small, third sector organisations which help disadvantaged learners move closer to work.

Chief executive of TCHC, Dale Morgan, added: “We are extremely pleased that the Community Grant has been used to such great effect by ActOne ArtsBase and that it has had a truly positive impact on Barnabas.”.