Dwindling numbers cast doubt on theatre’s future

Phoenix Youth Theatre, which caters to disabled youngsters, is facing closure
Phoenix Youth Theatre, which caters to disabled youngsters, is facing closure

A theatre school for deaf and disabled children is facing an uncertain future.

Phoenix Youth Theatre, which meets every Friday at Cardinal Allen School in Fleetwood, provides drama lessons to youngsters of all abilities, with teachers using sign language to involve deaf and hearing impaired aspiring actors.

But teachers Roz Dunning and Paula Hartley have warned that the school now faces closure as many of its members are heading off to university, meaning the continued running of the club has become unsustainable.

Roz said: “We simply won’t be able to afford to pay the school to use the hall any more.

“The children left behind, have said they would be heartbroken. A lot of them have special needs and they have found a place where people accept them for their brains and not for what their bodies can or cannot do.

“They have made life-long friendships.

“One girl when she first came to us she wouldn’t say hello to anyone. 
 “One boy who is autistic wouldn’t even sit next to another person when he came to us age 11, and now he’s off to university.

“It’s important we stay open because it’s somewhere that families of disabled children can come to spend time together.

“It makes children who are often quite isolated, even from things like bullying at school, and it gives them a safe place. If we close they will lose their safe place.”

She added that the Phoenix Youth Theatre could still be saved, if only they could attract more young people to take part.

She said: “We want to get more members coming in and get more people interested.

“Because we don’t have a big budget we don’t have the money to spend on advertising so a lot of people don’t know we exist.

“All we really need is 10 more people and then we can pay all our costs – but we need those extra people or the school will have to go.”

Phoenix Youth Theatre offers one free class to all new students, with classes after that costing £4 each.

Special arrangements can be made for families who are struggling financially.

For more information or if you can help call Roz Dunning on 07515703133.