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New inclusive dance group launched in Wrexham with cash seized from crooks

March 28th 2022, 4:16 pm by Allan Longshadow

An award-winning dance club is reaching out to a new legion of twinkle-toed performers thanks to cash seized from criminals.

Wisp Dance Club has transformed the lives of hundreds of young people with disabilities since being founded by Artistic Director Cher Mather in Mold in 1994.


Building on almost three decades of success, the club has launched a new group, Wisp Plus, based in Wrexham and inspiring adults with additional needs to explore the world of contemporary dance and movement.


They have had a helping hand with a grant of £2,500 from the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner's Your Community, Your Choice Fund which has been instrumental in getting the new project off the ground.


The initiative, also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and North Wales Police, is in its ninth year.

More than £400,000 has been handed out to deserving causes in that time and much of it has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin.


Uma O'Neill, Project Manager and Lead Tutor at Wisp, said:

"We are one of the only specialist organisations in North Wales that deliver this work.
"Covid has been very hard for us as a lot of our participants had to shield and it's only now people are starting to come back because they were very frightened.
"This work can reconnect people and build their confidence and support our members to live fulfilling lives.
"This grant is going to secure provision so that we will have enough members to continue moving forward. Without this grant, that just wouldn't happen."


Wisp were inspired to extend their service when they hosted a series of summer taster sessions last year from their main base at Theatr Clwyd in Mold and found two young people from Wrexham who caught the bus and walked a mile to reach the theatre before leaving halfway through the session to catch the return bus home.


They were back the following week and Uma, 42, who studied for a Masters in European Dance Practice at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance in London, said:

"Their commitment was quite frankly humbling but the location was clearly unsuitable and the lack of accessibility for them was unfair.
"So we contacted Wrexham County Council Social Services Enablement Officer Christine Badwick who canvassed service users and found an overwhelmingly positive response for the provision."=

Wisp Plus welcomed 10 members aged between 20 and 60 to their first session and hopes many more will join in the coming months:

"We are about supporting our members, listening to their needs and championing their abilities and voices,"
"We are completely inclusive. We have members who are wheelchair bound, we have members who have difficulties both physical and mental – we don't turn away anyone."

Congratulating the dance group on its new venture, North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin said: "I am delighted that my Your Community Your Choice fund continues to support community projects across North Wales.

"This unique fund is demonstration of people power in action because it allows our communities to decide which projects should get financial support through our on-line voting system.
"There is an element of poetic justice in using money obtained through crime to address the problem of crime in our communities.
"It's turning bad money into good and it's making a real difference because it is local people who recognise and understand their local issues and how to solve them.
"This is a really positive aspect of the scheme and it helps bring us closer to those communities."

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Allsop said: "I get particular satisfaction that part of the funding comes from the proceeds of crime, so that money is taken out of the pockets of criminals and their ill-gotten gains by the courts and is put back into community initiatives.

"It's turning bad money into good and it's making a real difference because it is local people who recognise and understand their local issues and how to solve them.
"Policing is part of the community and the community is part of policing and this scheme is a positive way of building trust in policing.
"It's great to see those relationships flourish because without the community we won't know what's going on, without the community we won't get vital intelligence, and we won't solve crimes."

PACT chair Ashley Rogers said:

"These awards are important because they support community projects right across North Wales and it's the communities themselves that decide where the money can best be spent.
 "A lot of what we fund is aimed at providing something for young people to get involved with in their spare time, activities that can help to build skills and positive physical and mental health.
"We want to support communities so they are able to take responsibility for their own areas.
"Community groups and projects can do a great deal to make communities safer, reduce crime and reduce re-offending, it also sends a good message to the communities because it shows we are listening to them.
"The aim is to build up resilience in communities across North Wales to help vulnerable people and combat things like County Lines."

For more information on Wisp Dance Club visit: https://wispdanceclub.com/ and for more information on the work of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner go to https://www.northwales-pcc.gov.uk/en/home.aspx and for more on the North Wales Police and Community Trust go to https://www.pactnorthwales.co.uk/