FOUNDED in 1946, Strode Park Foundation is a Kent charity, providing vital care and support services for children and adults with a range of disabilities.
We aim to meet all levels of need; from those requiring a small amount of home care to maintain their independence, to supporting individuals with more complex disabilities requiring neuro-rehabilitation or 24-hour nursing residential care. We believe in freedom, well-being and choice, and promote these ideals throughout our care services, enabling people to live life the way they choose.
Here at Strode Park Foundation, we pride ourselves on being that little bit different, and this ethos very much flows down to the way that we approach our fundraising events.
We are incredibly fortunate to be based within fourteen acres of beautiful grounds, and around 26 years ago one of our Trustees had the inspired idea to build a fully accessible amphitheatre on site so that the people with disabilities who used our services could get the opportunity to enjoy the same entertainment like everyone else.
Theatre in the park was thus born and has been running successfully, primarily as a music venue, ever since.
Certainly not a fundraising resource of which most charities can boast, the theatre works for us on so many levels.
The theatre brings a lot of much-needed funds into the charity. We work hard to book the best acts possible (both local bands and big names), and most events do tend to sell out. Along with ticket sales, we also run our own licensed bar and will always have a raffle in the interval. Many events are also sponsored by local companies too so with all profits coming straight to the charity, and with events happening most weekends over the summer, the fundraising potential is enormous.
Theatre in the Park is also run entirely by a very dedicated and enthusiastic team of volunteers. It is not often that such an exciting and fun volunteering opportunity comes along and we often find that we have too many people wanting to get involved in each event! This is indeed a rarity in the world of fundraising where often the event organisers have to beg and plead (and call in a few favours) to get sufficient people in to help run things.
Fundraising and volunteering are all very well of course, but the real jewel in Theatre in the Park’s crown is the way that it enables our residents, and other people with disabilities, to be able to have total access to a theatre; something that is sadly not always an option.
Theatre in the Park has become a fantastic vehicle for breaking down those boundaries and misconceptions that the public can sometimes have about people with disabilities, and at our events people of all abilities can be found dancing, laughing and having a fantastic time on the large dance floor.
Music is well known for bringing people together, and Theatre in the Park is a shining example of this.
So as a final note it is good to think outside that box when it comes to fundraising events. With the right idea, however different, you can create something extraordinary which has the potential to bring more than just money to the table.
(Written by Christina Jones, Fundraiser at Strode Park Foundation)