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Feathers
Blind & Visually Impaired accessible R&D

This project aims to create and advocate for greater social and cultural inclusion for Blind and Visually Impaired artists & communities through dance.

Considering blindness, as a source of multi-sensory knowledge, choreographer Sandrine Monin and composer Roberto D. Rusconi,  with the support of IntrasonusUK, will research the perception of movement and the influence of sound and environment, to investigate an accessible creative process and development of dance work.

Feathers will be inspired by the Egyptian myth of the goddess Ma'at and explore the themes of empathy, meaning of life and connections. 

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The Artist's bio

 

Sandrine strives to choreograph strong physical works that empower and connect people through dance and storytelling. Her aim is to represent all those who are marginalised, sensitively explore human emotions, and address wellbeing and mental health, sharing experiences across communities.

 

Sandrine’s projects, performances and research is grounded in high quality practice and creative exploration. Identified as a future leader of dance by One Dance UK, Sandrine Monin, has:

  • 15 years’ experience as a professional dancer performing in renowned companies and choreographers: Forsythe, McGregor, C. Bruce, Alston, Staatstheater Munich, Phoenix Dance Theatre

  • Received a Best Premiere in the Dance Europe Magazine Critics’ Choice nomination for work ‘Calyx’ (2017), a collaboration with composer R. Rusconi and commissioned by Phoenix Dance Theatre, touring for 2 years across the UK, Germany and China.

  • Partook in a new collaboration with Phoenix Dance Theatre and composer Rusconi (2018) to research and develop full-length piece – Kirke. This piece was performed at Dampfzentrale Bern and Phoenix at Home in Leeds. 

  • Studied on an Open University Business and Finance Fundamentals course and a Fundraising in the Arts course with Leeds University 

  • Continuously developed her practice & academic achievements through mentoring from One Dance UK, Kerry Nicholls Dance, an MA in Dance Practice from Palucca Schule Dresden (2010) and an MA Choreography from Central School of Ballet (2021)

  • Since 2014, created numerous artistic works for dance, screen, youth group and vocational training - Central School of Ballet performed at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London (2019), CAT DanceXchange (2021), Northern Film School (2021)

  • Developed her own projects, supported by Arts Council England, ‘The Shopkeeper (2019), ‘The Keeper’ (2021)

  • Taught for companies: Scottish Dance Theatre, NDCWales, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Studio Wayne McGregor, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures

  • Lectured for vocational training: NSCD, Northern Ballet Academy, Elmhurst Ballet School, Central School of Ballet, Centres for Advanced Training

 

Based in Leeds as a freelance artist, she is also CAT DanceXchange Artistic Associate (starting Jan 2022) and Associate Director with Glenn Graham Dance.

Researching Visual Impairment and Access to Dance

High quality, talented choreographer and dance artist, Sandrine Monin, will explore inclusivity for the Blind and Visually Impaired within dance practice.

 

The Blind & VI community have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 over the past 1.5 years through:

  • ‘Disabled’ Identities and self-perceptions creating embarrassment and guilt

  • Shielding challenges

  • COVID-19 has created additional barriers for disabled participants

  • Uncertainty leading to mental ill health

  • Socially imposed limitations over and above those experiences by non-disabled people

  • Independence has been impacted

  • Additional pressure on wellbeing

  • COVID-19 has lessened the number of available options and choice

 

Furthermore, according to the Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case, A Data Report 2019-2020, there are lower percentages for disability leadership, lower success rates for disabled applicants to Lottery Projects & DYCP, and:

 

“Dance has the lowest at 5% of the workforce identifying as disabled.” – (p.7)

About the project...

About the project...

This project aims to create & advocate for greater social and cultural inclusion for Blind & VI artists, creatives and communities, with the hopes to contribute to the reversal of the above data.

 

Sandrine will research & creatively explore:

  • differences between movement and perception of movement for visually impaired people and blind people AND for sighted people moving in the dark  

  • how different sounds and different kind of environments influence the way people move (VI and blind people as well as sighted people in the dark) - sounds and vibrations can influence our equilibrium, attention and consciousness

  • Blind & VI access in the dance studio

  • How we create work involving Blind & VI communities in the creative process

  • What benefits movement & dance can have on Blind & VI people

We intend this research to have a positive impact on the workforce, audiences & sector through better wellbeing & connectivity, offering different cultural perspectives, cognitive diversity, increased productivity & representation of society. 

About Feathers – Artistic Work R&D

With this research and learning, Sandrine will develop a new artistic work Feathers. Feathers aims to offer a moment of entertainment and yet stimulate a moment of re-thinking. With Blind and Visual Impairment inclusion at its core in both the creative process and performance, it challenges traditional theatrical experiences and inspires audiences to explore their other sensory perceptions. 

 

In myths all over the World, oracles and seers are portrayed as blind characters guiding humans through the night and the unknown. This work, inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Myth of Ma'at, acknowledges the tragedy of loss, 'death anxiety' and the deep human fear that we are not living our life to its fullest, squandering it away in an individualist, materialistic and wasteful society. The piece will explore human search for the meaning in life and draw on the power of sound, movement and story, to appeal to audiences’ sense of kinship and capacity for empathy and connection. 

 

Through this Arts Council England Lottery Project funding, this work will be developed with Blind and Visually Impaired community participants across:

  • London – Bloomsbury Theatre, Centre 151 & BlindAid, London RNIB & London Vision

  • Leeds – NSCD, Yorkshire Dance & Leeds BID Service

  • Barnsley – Barnsley Civic & Barnsley Blind and Partially Sighted Association

  • Bradford – Kala Sangam & Bradford Centre for the Blind

 

Sandrine will:

  • Engage a Blind / VI advocate to reach and communicate with this community

  • Engage Blind / VI artists to be involved in the creative process as performers (in London, Leeds and Bradford))

  • Lead 5 community workshops across each geographical location – London, Leeds, Barnsley, Bradford

  • Invite community participants from the VI / Blind services in each location to attend the studio with Sandrine to explore the themes of the work further (over 1 week per location)

  • Work with 2 dance artists, Hannah Rudd and Mayowa Ogunnaike, to explore the themes that arise over 6 weeks R&D rehearsals with the aim to develop a work for touring in 2023

  • Collaborate with composer, Roberto D Rusconi PhD, to develop sound that creates feeling, meaning, and helps navigate people in space as well as explore the perception of sound

  • Work with high quality Dramaturge, Lou Cope, to support with the development of the work

  • Develop film and images as documentation for the project

  • Involved a UCL researcher through the UCL Performance Lab to measure the impact of the project and collate learning as well as explore how sounds & environment influences our emotions and the way we move

  • Consider access needs across the project in terms of communication, marketing, travel

  • Create an ongoing dance creative package to ensure VI and Blind communities continue to be included in arts practice and performance following this project. This will include sourcing additional funding for community workshops, visits, facilitating theatre / cultural visits, making connections, and sharing research to the wider sector to champion this kind of work.

  • Sharing learning with the wider sector to encourage better access to the arts and dance

  • Consider environmental sustainability through offsetting carbon footprint by planting trees via carbonfootprint.com

 

About the partners...

The project is supported by experienced and highly qualified partners on both creative & managerial aspects who will ensure its fulfilment and the standard of its outcome.

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Spin Arts

Spin Arts has produced award winning and critically acclaimed international touring productions for the last 10 years, working with a diverse range of artists from different backgrounds and art forms to represent often under-represented voices. Artists include: Seeta Patel, Carlos Pons Guerra, Keira Martin, Sandrine Monin, Yuvel Soria, Surface Area Dance Theatre, Spiltmilk, Coalesce, Richard O'Neill, Bobak Champion, The Good Enough Mum's Club, to name few. We strive to bring the very best cultural experiences to local communities & invite communities into our creative processes to help shape the stories we tell. Our productions can be found in theatres, libraries, galleries, community centres and outdoor festivals.

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IntrasonusUK

IntrasonusUK is committed to creating a better world through education, research, development of bold ideas and innovative site-specific projects.

They are restless thinkers. They constantly question and experiment. They tackle challenges through our unique combination of research, expertise and skills.

Their approach is practical and collaborative, driven by the rigorous use of emerging technology and the power of people. They are fascinated by the skills and imagination of artists inspired by the world around them and they love compelling narrative writing. They build bridges between sound and movement, spoken text, science and technology. They offer concerts and events reinforced by workshops and laboratories, seeking to express and re-configure life trough art. 

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Genesis Foundation

The Genesis Foundation was founded by John Studzinski CBE in 2001. Over the past 20 years, the Foundation has donated a total of more than £20 million to the arts. Through its funding and partnership model, it has enabled opportunities for thousands of young artists in theatre and music, building both their experience and their resilience.

The Foundation’s main focus is on partnerships with leading arts organisations such as the Young Vic, National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, LAMDA and The Sixteen, and on training programmes that equip emerging artists for life as a creative professional. In 2020, it launched the Covid-19 Artists Fund, an Emergency response to help freelancers facing hardship, and the £1 million Genesis Kickstart Fund, to create future-facing projects for outstanding freelance talent in the creative sector across the UK

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UCL Performance Lab & Bloomsbury Theatre

UCL Culture presents Performance Lab, where artists, researchers and students explore how live performance can animate research – and how research can inspire art.

Bloomsbury theatre originally opened in 1968, today it showcases the best of theatre, music, dance, comedy and everything in-between. We seek out new work by some of the UK’s most imaginative performers and cultural organisations, as well as welcoming high-profile and household names throughout the year.The theatre is proud to be part of UCL, one of the world’s leading universities. We work together with students and researchers to bring ground-breaking discoveries to the stage, from art and design, science, technology and beyond. 

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Petrie Museum

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London is part of University College London Museums and Collections. The museum contains over 80,000 objects and ranks among some of the world's leading collections of Egyptian and Sudanese material.

The Petrie museum supports us in our research surrounding the Egyptian myth of Maat and we will meet with their team exploring accessibility in museums for blind and visually impaired, as well as organising visit in their museum with the groups we are working with.  

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Glenn Graham Dance

Glenn Graham Dance we are passionate about inspiring the next generation of dancers, preparing them for the professional world. We strive to develop diverse talent giving everyone the opportunity to experience the exploration of movement and enabling dancers to achieve their uniqueness through character, expression and dance. We are especially passionate about working with underprivileged talent, helping future artists develop, empowering them so they’re able to achieve and realise their full potential.

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Barnsley Blind and Partially Sighted Association 

We are a volunteer lead group and have no paid workers. Our volunteers give time, advice, support and guidance to blind, partially sighted,  their family, friends and carers with in the Barnsley community and surrounding areas.
We have no sponsors but are funded through donations, bequests, small grant's and fund raising by our volunteers. 

We run a resource centre to give blind and partially sighted people access to apparatus and aids which can make their lives easier.

We liaise with other groups and professional bodies to ensure the voices of our community are heard, their views are considered and our drive is aimed at bringing about change and education to meet our needs and to generate a more inclusive society.

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Bradford Centre for the Blind 

Sensory Needs Service for Blind and Visually Impaired people in Bradford

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Northern Ballet Academy

Inspiring the dancers of tomorrow, the Academy of Northern Ballet embodies a 21st Century approach to training. Under the direction of David Nixon OBE and Yoko Ichino, students receive the highest quality training that captures the talent and imagination of individuals and nurtures their passion for dance, creating balanced and healthy dancers who excel in technique and knowledge.

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Elmhurst Ballet School

Vocational Dance School whose mission is to inspire, nurture and celebrate young ballet dancers sharing a talent, commitment and passion to become exceptional dance professionals, regardless of financial circumstances.

About the artists & researchers...

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Roberto D. Rusconi PhD

Composer

 

Dr Roberto Rusconi (PhD at King’s College London) is an award-winning composer, sound-designer and visionary producer of immersive music for opera, dance, music theatre, screen and art galleries. Interested in sound projection and live digital sound processing, he produced the first ever fully immersive opera (commissioned Fondazione Haydn).

Roberto will develop and explore the use of sound in the creative process, investigating whether this influences movement and direction of those who are Blind and Visually Impaired.

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Lou Cope

Dramaturg

Internationally respected performance dramaturg with over 15 years-experience.

Worked with artists, organisations & academic institutions. Worked with established & emerging artists across art forms across UK and internationally. Dramaturg in Residence for South East Dance & works as an Organisational Dramaturg to a number of companies.

Alumna of the Clore Pulse Leadership.

Shows Lou has worked on have won: 2 Olivier awards, The Benois Prize for Dance, The Critics’ Choice Award, UK Theatre Award, Total Theatre Award, Amnesty International Freedom of Speech Award, ACTA Eastern Eye Award, Herald Angel Award & a Lustrum Award.

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Mayowa Ogunnaike is a freelance dance artist. She trained at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. After graduating she became an Apprentice Dancer with Phoenix Dance Theatre. Following her apprenticeship, Mayowa worked as a company dancer for Uchenna, ACE Dance and Music, Rosie Kay Dance Company, Fubunation. 

Mayowa will explore the themes of the work and community research with Sandrine over a 6-week creative period.

Mayowa Ogunnaike

Dance Artist

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Hannah Rudd is a freelance dance artist working in the UK and internationally. Trained at The Royal Ballet School, she worked with National Dance Company of Ireland, Michael Clark Company, Scottish Ballet, Rambert Dance Company where she has been a principal artist for ten years before going back to freelancing. 

Hannah will explore the themes of the work and community research with Sandrine over a 6-week creative period.

Hannah Rudd

Dance Artist

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Jack Thompson

 Photographer 

 

Jack Thompson is a dance-media artist, with practises in performance, photography and film.

Graduating from Rambert School, Jack has works with numerous choreographers. 

His practice in photography and film has led to short dance films commissions for Random Acts (Channel 4) and most recently for New Creatives (BBC arts/Arts Council England). 

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Ashley Karrell

Videographer 

 

Ashley Karrell is an international award-winning director, filmmaker & photographer.

With a professional career spanning over 17 years, Ashley has a broad spectrum of work including film, visual art, commercial & mass-participation pieces, such as his film/documentary of Geraldine Connor's Carnival Messiah or his 30-year living art-project Expression of You.

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Rosie Watt

 Producer 

Rosie has 8 years of Producing, Fundraising and Management experience with dance artists and companies across the UK including Surface Area Dance Theatre, Kapow, Earthfall, Yuvel Soria, Sandrine Monin, Keira Martin and Sonia Sabri. Rosie has secured over £300K in the past 2 years for artistic work reaching communities across the UK. Furthermore, Rosie has experience as a Samaritans volunteer, trainee counsellor and psychotherapist, and with voluntary sector charities such as Lancashire Women and Empowerment, where Rosie has connected, listened to and supported people from the community whilst following ethical practice and safeguarding policies. Rosie will support Sandrine with the delivery of the project.

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Tin Obermann PhD

 Researcher 

Tin Oberman, researcher at UCL Faculty of Architecture. His research work include collaboration with the Institute of Electroacoustics at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, where he gained experience in auralisation and soundscape field research, focused on the enhancement of soundscape of urban open spaces. In July 2018, Tin was appointed as Research Assistant at the Bartlett Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering of the University College London (UK), to work on the ERC-funded project entitled “Soundscape Indices”and is very keen into understanding and working towards improving our urban spaces, lowering the influence of pernicious noise and disturbing soundscapes for our wellbeing and the enhancement of learning capabilities for younger people and less privileged members of our communities 

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Northern School of Contemporary Dance 

A world-leading centre for dance education and development.

To provide an inspirational learning experience, from first contact through into the profession, enabling aspiring dance artists, and dance professionals, regardless of background, to shape the future of dance.

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Yorkshire Dance

Yorkshire Dance is a charity which champions the value of dance and its development in Yorkshire.

They create opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to see, make and take part in high quality dance.

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The Civic Barnsley

The Civic exists to provide Barnsley and the surrounding communities with a culturally significant voice.

Its aim is to present a progressive programme of events, exhibitions and performance that relate to the areas, social, economic and political attitudes whilst also entertaining and encouraging debate.

They are passionate about people of all ages and backgrounds having access to the best possible arts and cultural experiences on their own doorstep.

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Kala Sangam Arts Centre

Performing venue in Bradford, featuring high-quality local, national & international artists from a variety of cultural heritages:

· Brings best choreographers & composers

· Works with artists to offer tailored support to their needs (free rehearsal space, organisational development, writing fundraising applications, performance opportunities, technical support, meeting room space)

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BlindAid

As London’s oldest charity for blind and visually impaired people, BlindAid works to improve quality of life and promotes independence for Londoners with a visual impairment. We provide individualised practical and emotional support to reduce the social isolation that many people living with a visual impairment can experience.

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Royal National Institute for the Blind

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is one of the UK’s leading sight loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people.

They recognise everyone’s unique experience of sight loss and offer help and support for blind and partially sighted people.

They’re a catalyst for change – inspiring people with sight loss to transform their own personal experience, their community and, ultimately, society as a whole. Their focus is on giving them the help, support and tools they need to realise their aspirations.

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London Vision

London is a fast moving and vibrant capital city providing huge benefits and opportunities. We want to ensure that blind and partially sighted people are able to take advantage of these opportunities in the same way as anyone else. This means promoting an agenda of engagement, participation, equality, inclusivity and diversity.

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Leeds BID Service

BID Services is a charity. We work in partnership with children, young people and adults and their families and carers. We support people who are deaf, hard of hearing, visually impaired or have a dual sensory loss.
Our specialist service areas include Advocacy, Employment, British Sign Language Interpreting and Training, Rehabilitation and Mobility Training, Specialist Equipment, Residential Care, Social Work, Support for Tinnitus and Housing Related Services. 

Supporting Letters

Offer Letter from Genesis Foundation - Kickstart Fund

From Sharon Watson - Principal and CEO Northern Contemporary Dance School

From Rorie Evans - UCL Performance Lab

From Clarissa Ferguson - BlindAid

From Tim Banquero - IntrasonusUK

Calculation 
(Travel, Accomodation & Per Diems cost)

Examples of previous works...

Videos, pictures and reviews...

Choreographic Showreel

Pieces created for Phoenix Dance Theatre, Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz Munich, Phoenix Youth Academy, Lowry CAT Scheme

'The Shopkeeper' & 'The Keeper'

'The Shopkeeper' project had a first phase of research in 2019-20:

- 4 weeks studio research with actor Paul Dunphy and mentors to established story, characters and dramaturgy.

- Over 100 people took part in a survey on their experience with mental health 

- Workshops & Classes

- New partnerships with venues, programmers, mental health charities 

- Performance in front of an audience to gather feedback 

'The Keeper' is the development of 'The Shopkeeper' project into a short-film.

The film is currently in editing and will be released early 2022. 

Promotional Video 'The Shopkeeper' by Ashley Karrell

2 Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants (2019 & 2021)

Photos by Ashley Karrell

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Creation on Central School of Ballet - 2019

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Photos: Patrick Baldwin

Review - Dance Europe Magazine 2019

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Kirke

Creation on Phoenix Dance Theatre - 2018

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Photos: Brian Slater

Review - Dance Europe Magazine 2018

Review dance Europe 2018
Review dance Europe 2018
Review dance Europe 2018

Review - Yorkshire Times 2018

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Instagram post from audience member

Instagram from audience member

Programme

Kirke
Kirke
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Calyx

Creation on Phoenix Dance Theatre - 2017

Calyx was nominated 'Best Premiere 2017' by Dance Europe Magazine Critic's Choice 2017, toured around the UK for 2 years and in festivals in Germany and China

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Photos: Brian Slater

Review - Dance Europe Magazine 2017

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Programme

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Education work

Technique class - Creative and Choreographic workshops

Phoenix Dance Theatre
Phoenix Dance Theatre – GCSE Shadows
Phoenix Youth Academy
Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures
Wayne McGregor Studio

Scottish Dance Theatre

NDCWales

Tutti Frutti Productions
ACE Dance and Music
James Cousins – GCSE Within Her Eye
Northern Ballet - Postgraduate and CAT
NSCD - BA, postgraduate and CAT

Elmhurst Ballet School
Central School of Ballet
CAT Schemes (Swindon, Exeter, Birmingham, Leeds)
Leeds City College

Renaissance Arts

Morea Performing Arts

Yorkshire Movement and Dance

Collaborators:

Phoenix Dance Theatre (Dance company)

Tutti Frutti Productions (Theatre company)

Clearwater Collective (Theatre company)
Roberto D. Rusconi (Composer)

Kristian Steffes (Composer)
Intrasonus (Trans-disciplinary producing company)
Centres for Advanced Training CAT schemes
(NSCD, Exeter, Swindon, Birmingham)
Central School of Ballet - London
Emma James (Costume Designer)
Luke Haywood (Lighting Designer)
Marcos Mariz (Dramaturg)

Lou Cope (Dramaturg)

Hughboy Condor (Set designer)

Paul Dunphy (Actor)

Andy Wood (film maker)

Ashley Karrell (videographer)

Simon K. Allen (photographer)

Northern Film School

Risk Assessments
& Safeguarding

PROJECT RISK Assessment & Safeguarding

COVID-19 risk assessment 

Sandrine has studied a 10-week teacher training: Embedding Mental Health Strategies with the Open University and in collaboration with Mental Health Foundation and been awarded a micro-credential diploma with Distinction.

Safeguarding course

Equality & Diversity certificate

Health & Safety Awareness certificate