Aspire Community Benefit Society
Andy Rawnsley, chief executive of Aspire, with members of the drama group at Hillside Enterprise Centre in Beeston
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2023 case study- Aspire

A pioneering social enterprise, Aspire Community Benefit Society brings culture into the lives of some of more than a thousand people with learning disabilities each and every day.

Leading the way in giving care and support to some of the city’s vulnerable adults, Aspire runs an annual cultural awareness event aimed at celebrating diversity through the arts as well as working in partnership with specialist arts, drama and dance groups with shows and events during the year.

They also organise drama groups and have their very own band, fronted by adults with learning disabilities as well as providing a huge range of services and activities for people with complex needs including arts and craft activities, sports, leisure and fitness.

Those working within the service, based at a number of state-of-the-art hubs across Leeds, have seen the extraordinary difference culture can make to the lives of those with physical disabilities, complex needs, sensory impairments and autistic spectrum disorders.

With 100 days to go until Leeds submits its bid to be European capital of Culture in 2023, those in charge of the service are excited about getting involved.

Andy Rawnsley, chief executive of Aspire said:

“Culture can be loved, enjoyed and appreciated by everyone, regardless of their level of ability, which is one of the reasons it can play such an important role in the lives of the people we work with.

“If Leeds becomes European Capital of Culture in 2023, it could change the lives of so many people and send a powerful message that we’re a city where anything is possible.

“We’re keen to get behind the bid, and I’m proud to say that we’ll be pledging our support by spreading the word about 2023 throughout our network and the voluntary sector as well as making sure people with learning disabilities have access to cultural activities.”

Anyone in Leeds can pledge their support for the bid as the submission date approaches by sharing their activities on social media using #MakeLeeds2023.

Suggestions for pledges include telling 23 family and friends about the bid, sharing details about the bid with everyone on your social networks or downloading an exciting new Maker’s Manual, which includes creative ideas for how to get involved, from the Leeds 2023 website.

Sharon Watson, chair of the Leeds 2023 independent steering group said:

“The enthusiasm for the bid that we’ve already seen from people across Leeds has been truly inspiring and it’s clearer than ever that there’s an incredible passion for this once-in-a-generation opportunity for our city.

“With the all-important submission date now fast approaching, we’re keen to harness that collective energy and help spread the message that the bid is something that everyone, from every walk of life can be a part of.

“We’d urge as many people as possible to take this chance to get involved, pledge their support and help show the world that culture is at the absolute heart of Leeds and our communities.”

More details of how to pledge your support or where you can download a Maker’s Manual can be found at:

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