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“I feel really proud of myself”: Art competition victory inspires confidence

Our Outreach 3 Way centre is celebrating success after four of the people we support scooped prizes at the recent Mid-Sussex Mencap competition.

Set up in 2003, the annual art contest invites people with learning disabilities to submit their entries over three categories. This year, they included ‘Festivals’, ‘Portrait’ and ‘Music’ – leading our team to pick up their paintbrushes and create something truly special.

Claire Matthews with her entry

Lead support worker, Catherine Leavers, says:

“It’s an exciting event and brilliant to support people to get involved and make something of their own. It’s about making sure everyone knows they can give it a go, and creating a sense of ownership.”

In the months leading up to the competition, the team experimented with acrylics, collages, texturing and dying paper, mixed media and cutting. And the hard work certainly paid off, after Kelly Fowler, Claire Matthews, Matthew Radwell and Kelly Davis were awarded prizes.

Matthew Radwell, who scooped 3rd prize in the ‘Festivals’ category, says: 

Kelly Fowler, who was highly-commended in the same category, adds:

“It feels like I’m building confidence when I enter my art. I have won two years in a row, and I feel really proud of myself. It feels like a real achievement.”

It was also a proud moment for former teaching assistant Catherine, who says:

“People really surprise you with what they can create – including the best portrait of the Queen that I’ve ever seen. Sometimes I’ve thought to myself: ‘That should be in a gallery!’. It makes it so worthwhile. We support them, but they’re the ones who put the work in.”