Abi Horsfield, transitions outreach manager

 30 March 2017

Abi has over 25 years’ experience of theatre facilitation and her work with Collective Encounters sees her delivering workshops to those who have experienced homelessness, addiction and/or mental health problems. In 2017 she was jointly awarded the Creative Choices Award for promoting fair access to the creative industries.

"I never expected to win an award for my work, so winning this is a lovely validation of what I do." Credit: James Fletcher

Through her long career, Abi has delivered workshops across 300 projects in 27 challenging countries such as Ghana, Thailand, Uzbekistan, the Philippines and Nigeria.

She now delivers Theatre for Social Change workshops to some of the most marginalised people around Merseyside, Liverpool.

Participants of Theatre for Social Change

In her workshops, Abi works with people of all ages who have experienced homelessness, addiction and/or mental health problems.

Abi has shown incredible ambition and commitment to helping those who have faced very difficult times find a new skill set.

Many of the participants have now joined Abi’s core drama group and they meet one a week to rehearse.

This drama group, called Transitions, have toured many successful theatre productions to arts and community settings around Merseyside.

Abi also runs facilitation training for people who have taken part in Transitions and through her mentoring scheme; participants are now getting paid drama facilitation work.

Harriet Warnock, the general manager at Collective Encounters who nominated Abi said: “Abi works with these facilitators to make sure they are continuing to improve their practice. She works with many arts, community and charity venues across Merseyside to deliver these workshops.”

Through the drama workshops and facilitation training, the participants have the opportunity to gain Open Awards, nationally recognised qualifications.

Supporting disadvantaged people in the arts

Abi has shown incredible ambition and commitment to helping those who have faced very difficult times find a new skill set.

Not only have they gained confidence through performances but they have also learnt valuable skills in communication and teamwork.

It is brilliant to see the transforming power of drama 

Many have gone on to get paid workshop facilitation work, while others have used their new found confidence and communication skills to go on to work with organisations such as The Reader.

For some, the Open Awards qualifications are the first formal qualification they have received and Abi encourages everyone to work towards achieving these.

Harriet said: “Abi’s support encourages the individuals to push themselves outside of their comfort zone.”

Being a Creative Choices Award winner

The judging panel jointly awarded Abi the 2017 Creative Choices Award saying: “Abi's commitment to the group shines through, for her this is much more than a job and this is proven by the respect and admiration the participants have for her.”

Harriet said on nominating Abi: “Watching people who never thought they would perform receive a standing ovation or hearing that people who, by their own admission, had hit rock bottom are getting paid facilitation work has been an honour!

"And it couldn't have happened without Abi's dedication.

Abi said of winning the award: “I am a very lucky woman to work in a job I love!  It is brilliant to see the transforming power of drama, and to support people in using theatre to voice issues, which are important to them.

"I never expected to win an award for my work, so winning the Creative Choices award is a lovely validation of what I do."

Find out who else won at our 2017 Skills Awards Ceremony.


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