A recent chance encounter with Lee Giles, Artistic Director & CEO of the Habbit Factory, provided an excellent opportunity to catch-up on their activities and to learn how they have put a £26,000 grant from the Arts Council, secured with Julia Lopez MP’s support, to grow the charity and help it to reach more young individuals.
The Habbit Factory operate a fully inclusive theatre company for people of all abilities and ages above six years old. Supported by a network of volunteers, or ‘Blue Tees’, the Habbit Factory promotes wider engagement with arts in the local community and targets those children and younger people who are furthest away from having a meaningful connection with arts and culture.
After twice meeting with Lee and attending a rehearsal session, Julia provided a letter of support to accompany their submission for Arts Council Funding to expand their operations allowing more local children to benefit from access to the arts and to realise their full potential. Julia was thrilled to hear in January that the application was successful with a grant of £26,000 being provided.
Thanks to the Arts Council funding, The Habbit Factory has been able to secure additional funds from the Havering Community Chest and Children In Need. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the number of children, young people, and adults seeking their services.
The Habbit Factory now have a weekly engagement with over 450 young individuals, and an impressive 48% of them are accessing their services for free, supported by the funding. In response to the growing demand, the team are opening a new hub at Barking and Dagenham College in September. This expansion was prompted by requests from individuals in the Hylands Ward, Romford, as well as residents of Barking and Dagenham.
To accommodate this growth, The Habbit Factory have welcomed a new team member, as the existing team was stretched thin. This addition has increased their capacity to support the community. However, they still rely on voluntary support to continue our interpersonal work. The Habbit Factory is gaining recognition as a prominent organisation in Havering, with partnerships forming with the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch and Pupil Referral Units. Anyone looking to support or join The Habbit Factory should visit their website at: The Habbit Factory | Inclusive theatre
Julia Lopez, Member of Parliament for Hornchurch & Upminster, said:
‘The Habbit Factory is an excellent local charity that is helping to make the arts more accessible to young people of all abilities, social backgrounds and ages above six years old. Lee’s enthusiasm for promoting access to the arts is infectious and the enjoyment that children find at The Habbit Factory sessions is plain to see. I was very glad to support The Habbit Factory’s application for funding and I am even more pleased to see how effectively it is being put to use.’
Lee Giles, Artistic Director & CEO of The Habbit Factory, said:
‘The Habbit Factory is guided by the belief that everyone, irrespective of their abilities or background, is welcomed and the funding from the Arts Council, Havering Community Chest and Children in Need will help us to welcome even more young people to the arts as we expand further. I am grateful to Julia Lopez MP for her support and look forward to welcoming new members in September.’
Photos - @gregveitphotography