Amy Barrett from Stone in Staffordshire has landed a starring role in a new campaign being launched by a charity which uses the power of live music to enhance the lives of learning disabled people.
The campaign being launched by Electric Umbrella this week is called ‘Plug In’ and encourages everyone across the country to join their community.
The Hertfordshire based charity Electric Umbrella was set up five years ago by Mel Boda and Tom Billington to provide a platform for learning disabled people to enjoy live music, and in doing so challenge perceptions. The charity organises gigs, operatas, musicals and even festivals.
Members regularly say they feel left behind by society and placed on the sidelines. Sadly, many of them have also experienced discrimination and say they could achieve far more than what’s expected of them, if given the right opportunities.
During the pandemic they launched online sessions bringing fun interactive shows, singalongs, often with inspiring guests, for their hundreds of members, many of whom relied on these social and creative sessions to get them through this difficult time.
Guests have included celebrities Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Toyah Willcox, Andrew Self, Dan Gillespie Sells from The Feeling and Tony Hadley – the two latter also sang on the charity’s Christmas single The Best Christmas (In Lockdown).
Amy Barrett (34) from Stone in Staffordshire, has a rare chromosome abnormality Jacobsen Syndrome, in which a portion of the 11th chromosome is missing. It affects about one in every 100,000 people.
Amy appears in a film for this campaign with her housemates Dave and Lumi who also love Electric Umbrella and often join the sessions.
Electric Umbrella participant Amy Barrett, said:
“When I was young mum and dad told me that a doctor said I’d never walk or talk and look at me now, they are so proud of me for what I’ve achieved.
“I know people who don’t speak or they are in wheelchairs and some people barge into them or don’t leave the door open for them. We all need to respect one another. We have a right to be here and not to be put in a corner.
“I have found something that I love with Electric Umbrella and my confidence has grown so much. It is a wonderful organisation and makes me feel happy and warm and fuzzy inside.”
During lockdown over 1,500 people joined the Electric Umbrella community, and they have huge ambitions to grow that number with a blend of digital first and face to face sessions planned in the months ahead.
Electric Umbrella Creative Director and co-founder Tom Billington said:
“We believe our members can do anything they want and be anyone they want to be and we encourage them every step of the way.
“We’d love to see a world where people are no longer defined by their disability but they are recognised for their incredible talents.
“Our members are so full of energy and embrace life with such enthusiasm. I believe if more people had these qualities the world would be a better place.
“When the pandemic started we found new ways to bring music to our members by starting online sessions and we discovered this is a brilliant way to reach so many more people.
“We’ve created this amazing community online which is why we have launched this campaign Plug In to encourage others to join Electric Umbrella.”
Mel Boda, Electric Umbrella’s chief executive and co-founder added:
“We’re inviting people to plug in, switch on, and get ready for the ride of their life with this campaign. Everything has been co-produced with our ambassadors, of which Amy has been an absolute superstar!
“We want everyone to experience the joy and power of music and see how it brings people together from all walks of life.
“Best of all, it’s completely free to join Electric Umbrella, and you don’t need any referral from your local authority.”
For more information visit: electricumbrella.co.uk