Living It Up celebrates charitable status

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A local community interest company (CIC) providing social and educational opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism is celebrating gaining charitable status.

Living It Up has supported hundreds of people since it was set up in 2009 by Fizz Heseltine and Claire Crawford-Smith.

The team is very excited to start this new chapter in their development, saying: “As a charity, we have so many more options to grow and develop our services as well as continue to promote the rights and aspirations of the people we work with.”

Living It Up was inspired by the Mencap Stay Up late campaign, promoting the rights of adults with learning disabilities to be able to go out, have fun and to stay up late.

Having started as a community group in 2009, Living It Up became a CIC in 2016.

“Since 2016 we’ve opened a performing arts centre providing expert-led performing and creative art sessions which is extremely successful and gives people with disabilities the opportunity to DJ, be in a band, present our live radio show, work in our arts and craft shop and learn skills such as dance, singing, instruments, film editing and drama,” said co-founder, Fizz.

“In 2018 we opened Gr8 Mates, a friendship and dating service which hold regular socials to enable people with learning disabilities and/or autism to meet new friends and possibly find a boyfriend or girlfriend.

“Later that year we opened Gig buddies Bedford, part of a global franchise, which supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to attend music gigs and other community events by matching them with a volunteer, based around shared interests.”

Living It Up co-founder, Claire Crawford-Smith (left) with her Gig Buddy

Claire and Fizz said that Living It Up prides itself in being user-led, with all services supported by advisory groups and committees made up of people who use them.

“We would like to say a special thanks to Jane Owen at Bedford CVS who supported us with our application,” said Fizz.

“If you would like to get involved we’re always happy to welcome new members and people who would like to volunteer or donate.”

For further information check out our website on livingitupevents.co.uk or please email us on livivngitupinfo@gmail.com.

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