Stay Up Late is a charity promoting full and active social lives for people with learning disabilities. They are delighted to announce that they’ve been successful in receiving funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to develop the work they started with the launch of the Stay Up Late campaign back in 2006.
Stay Up Late supports people with a learning disability in going out to see bands, clubbing, or seeing friends. They do this in a variety of ways, including managing a gig buddies scheme and producing events. Paul Stone who started Stay Up Late with members of the band Heavy Load says:
“When we started Stay Up Late (before we became a registered charity) it was because of our experiences as Heavy Load, playing gigs up and down the country and commonly seeing our fans leave at 9pm because staff weren’t able to work flexible shifts. Luckily for us we were having a feature documentary made about us too at the same time and so the issue of Stay Up Late got a huge audience when the movie came out at cinemas, on the BBC and on TV in the US."
"The thing is we had no particular plan, we were frustrated, sometimes angry, and had a simple message ‘we want to Stay Up Late we want to have some fun’. This resonated with so many people because not only are active social lives incredibly important for us all to keep healthy and develop relationships with other people, but it’s also about having the right to exercise choice over the way you live your life."
"When the campaign launched, and the movie broadcast, we were inundated with people supporting us and we were free and easy with our logo. We wanted as many people to take up the campaign and make an impact where they lived. To this day we still hear on events we’ve supposedly put on in various parts of the country which we had no idea about. And that’s a good thing!"
"We’re a tiny little organisation, currently employing 4 staff and only one of those is full-time. When we applied to Esmee Fairburn we were honest about the original campaign having no particular plan, but that it had a huge impact. So we said, just imagine what we could achieve if we did have a plan and could map what our influence has been."
"And this is where Stay Up Late 2 starts. We’ve been doing a number of talks and workshops at conferences over the past couple of years to try to identify what the blocks are to people with learning disabilities truly leading the lives they want. Whilst austerity cuts are a big factor we also have to remember that the issue of not being able to Stay Up Late was first raised in 2006, 2 years before austerity started. We believe a lot of the issues are also cultural and something can be done about this."
"Over the next 3 years we’ll be developing the campaign and working to share ways in which people are making positive change, whether that’s support staff who are creating flexible support systems, commissioners who are finding new ways to create services that work for individuals or maybe people with learning disabilities who’ve been able to say ‘sod this’ I want to live my life differently."