Actors with learning disabilities from a pioneering Huddersfield theatre company are helping change perceptions.
Dark Horse Theatre is led by an ensemble of nine actors with learning disabilities who, amongst their many accomplishments, have trained South Yorkshire Police detectives for over 10 years, working to improve communication skills when interviewing vulnerable witnesses and victims.
The company’s work has enabled police officers and detectives, lawyers and solicitors to platform learning disabled voices in statements and in court, developing a better and deeper understanding of how to engage people with learning disabilities, recognise vulnerabilities, and reverse harmful stereotypes.
For South Yorkshire Police, the changes have vastly improved quality and impact throughout their investigation processes.
Marie Allen, police co-ordinator at Sheffield law firm Irwin Mitchell, is currently developing a witness interviewing course which will allow police officers to identify different types of vulnerabilities and make reasonable adjustments.
This means that officers will develop the skills and expertise they need to capture vital statements in the most effective way for presentation in court.
Remembering their work with South Yorkshire Police, Marie approached Dark Horse for help in shooting footage for the course, working with the company actors in July at their rehearsal space in the Piazza Centre in Huddersfield town centre to record multiple clips.
Marie said: “I have worked with Dark Horse Theatre for many years and they are a truly diverse, committed and highly professional team.
“I cannot thank them enough for supporting me in developing an interview course which will be all the better for their contributions.”
Irwin Mitchell has donated £250 to Dark Horse as a thank you for the actors’ support. This will help Dark Horse in an exciting time of development and will contribute to creating brilliant work by and for people with learning disabilities.
To find out more about Dark Horse, head to www.darkhorsetheatre.co.uk or look them up on social media.