Northern Ballet Partnership Offers Unique Opportunity for Hospice Families

03 February 2017

For the fourth consecutive year, Northern Ballet have partnered with Martin House to provide a unique memory making experience for families of life-limited children.

Martin House was invited by Northern Ballet, as part of an initiative created by The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts, to take part in the START Hospices Programme in August 2013. Over the past four years, the programme has gone from strength to strength, giving children and their families the chance to enjoy quality time together sharing experiences that they would otherwise find difficult to access.

The series of workshops, led by Northern Ballet’s dance artists, incorporates dance, music and photography as well as live performances and a behind the scenes view of Northern Ballet. The project culminates in a family-led photographic exhibition at Northern Ballet’s headquarters in Leeds.

Martin House’s Niki Gilding explains: “The aim of Martin House is to help the children, young people and their families who come to us to live as rich a life as possible, and projects like this are vital in helping us to achieve this vision.

“The project has been so highly valued by those families taking part that even when a child has had surgery or become ill families continue to attend. Any inhibitions they might have at the first session are soon forgotten and each member of the family achieves a new found confidence to access the Arts and try new activities outside of the project.”

“We are immensely grateful for the continued support of Northern Ballet, who have helped us to ensure that the project is fully inclusive and not constrained by issues of finance or prejudice. We look forward to many more families enjoying the same positive memory-making experiences over the coming years.”

Northern Ballet’s Jo Dean said: “We believe ballet can bring people together and this project epitomises this perfectly.  At Martin House, the family is at the centre of everything they do, and it is a place where families can enjoy life together.  Our project aims to reflect this and provide new and exciting ways for the families to play together that are fully inclusive and accessible for all.”

The 2017 START Hospices project will begin this autumn, with families attending the first workshop at Northern Ballet in Leeds in October.