Circus for Survivors -Reclaiming our bodies #MeToo

Circus for Survivors -Reclaiming our bodies #MeToo

Circus and dance workshops for survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence run by women for women to reclaim their physical narrative.

We did it!

On 10th Jul 2018 we successfully raised £420 with 14 supporters in 56 days


Circus for Survivors is a bespoke, women led workshop programme for female survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence to develop physical and emotional well-being through trapeze, acrobatics and dance.

The Details

Circus for Survivors is a new programme of circus skill workshops for women survivors of abuse, developed by members of three established women-led performance companies Missing Link Productions, Mimbre and Upswing. The programme is designed to advance the proven physical and emotional well-being achieved through circus and offers a vital step in the journey for survivors to reclaim their right to body autonomy.

The Logistics

Over 12 months acrobatic, trapeze and dance teachers will work with women of all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes. We have long-standing links with survivors’ charities.

The programme will introduce a range of techniques supporting women to grow in self-confidence, develop trust and learn to express themselves creatively through their bodies.

Circus for Survivors is the women in the circus industry’s response to the unprecedented number of women coming forward as a result of the #MeToo campaign. To prepare for this work, teachers will receive specialist training on body autonomy, unconscious bias, language use and intersectionality delivered by key sector workers in creating a safe environment and a shared understanding of sensitivity towards the specific needs of survivors of abuse.

What will happen:

Physical empowerment workshops will be run for survivors of trauma, facilitated by women for women, to help rebuild their relationship with their body.

Each week we will deliver:

  • 2 x aerial / trapeze workshops for 9 women per class developing body autonomy and strength;
  • 2 x acrobatic classes for 12 women per class cultivating communication, boundaries and trust
  • 2 x group dance classes for 20 women per class aimed at those with social anxiety. 

Who will benefit:

Women and non-binary people aged 18+ who identify as survivors of abuse will either self refer or be referred by a partner agencies.

Where will activities take place:

The workshops will be held in areas of London with some of the largest poverty margins, where women have less access to public services and less access to forms of recourse. Poverty and abuse are inextricably linked, yet those who suffer the most have the least services available to them. If the workshops prove successful enough to attract more funding we plan to start similar projects in Brighton and Bristol.

Outcomes for participants:

  • Increased body confidence
  • Development of trust
  • Supported boundary setting
  • Network of supportive women

 How many people will benefit?

We have planned for a rotation of participants of classes and different methods of booking.   Assuming there will be a percentage of women who wish to return to the classes and advance their skills we estimate that we will be able to reach and support 1670 women over the course of a year.

We have budgeted for an evaluator to assess how the classes are impacting on the physical, mental and emotional health of the participants and we have budgeted a structure to support the well being of the tutors.

 How will this improve lives?

With an innovative use of core strength and physical movement we will begin a process which empowers women to take back control of their bodies, find their balance and expressiveness. By improving confidence and trust in themselves and others we will be a key stepping stone to feeling like there are safe, fun and accessible spaces where bodies of all shapes and sizes are welcome.

Confidence transforms the physical narrative.

By adding additional voices of support for each woman we know we can make positive contributions to self confidence and body image issues.

Why do we need your help?

The grant will facilitate the project getting off the ground and the initial infrastructure to be put in place. We will use our evaluation process to update the programme and hope will be able to attract future support to enable the project to continue more than our initial 12 month aim.

How do you know people will use this service?

We already have a list of expressions of interests (you can register yours here and support services willing to refer people to Circus for Survivors.

Now all we need, quite literally, it is get our feet of the ground.

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