Part 3 – Campaigning, dancing and crap comedians

As mentioned last time, Stay Up Late started because we were fed up with seeing our audiences leave halfway through our sets. This was also a personal issue for one member of the band who was asked to drink up halfway through a pint whilst we were still basking in the success of our first ever mainstream pub gig to a packed house.

For us this is such a big issue because going out and seeing bands, meeting your friends and doing what you want is an important part of your own self-expression and personal identity. It’s where you make new friendships and relationships and make choices about the way in which you lead your life.

To be denied this right is not only socially isolating but also leads to poor physical and mental health and prevents people with learning disabilities from being the people they want to be. Whether it’s Staying Up Late or going to bed early it doesn’t really matter – as long as you are able to make that choice.

Just imagine if your own social life always ended at 9pm – or earlier! It’s devastating and plain wrong. Not only that but it’s also written in various government policies about the need to promote choice and independence for people with learning disabilities.

So we decided to do that most punk of things and start up a charity to uphold government policy – and Stay Up Late grew from a campaign in to a charity.

As the birth of the campaign was featured in the movie about Heavy Load we ended up reaching a huge audience and supported people to spread the word in their own ways. This photo is our friends at C-Change and Dates N Mates in Glasgow and there’s also been nights in Germany, Denmark, Finland, USA and Estonia.

All we’re doing is advocating choice and discovered that music is the perfect medium to do this and enable people share the message in an accessible and meaningful way.

Stay Up Late works as a charity in various ways to improve social inclusion for people with learning disabilities which includes training and awareness with service providers to enable them to think of ways in which they can deliver support in more flexible and creative ways. We work with people with learning disabilities to enable them to understand their rights around the sort of support they should expect to receive – and to think about how they want to lead their lives.

This included a partnership project with Southdown Housing Association in 2012 to develop ‘The Q-Kit’ a quality testing tool designed to enable people with learning disabilities to say what a quality service means to them, and to see if they’re receiving one.

But we also do more fun, public things too such as our Kiss My Disco nights, run in partnership with Freshtrack DJ workshops. The nights are run by DJs with learning disabilities and open to everyone.


We also campaign around things like hate crime and have been particularly upset at some high profile ‘comedians’ who’ve been using words like ‘retard’ and ‘mong’ without any though about the people that these words unkindly refer to, and Heavy Load’s last single was a reworking of The Ting Ting’s ‘That’s Not my Name’ tackling this issue.

Next time we’ll be looking at the Wild Things Project and the amazing world of the ‘disabled underground’ music scene.


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