After almost 15 months of disruption due to Covid-19, the Carlisle-based charity championing ‘Arts without Barriers’, will finally be able to offer in-person sessions at the city's historic Methodist Hall.

Although based in Carlisle, the charity works across the county and has partnered with many different organisations, businesses, venues and education providers.

When Covid-19 hit, the organisation was forced to pause the weekly programmes, and many of the staff were put on furlough. Thanks to an emergency restructure and recovery funding, the small team of artists and support workers were able to switch to a digital model, allowing artists to work with participants remotely.

Due to the vulnerability of participants, a blended model of digital and in-person sessions will remain in place allowing greater flexibility to meet individuals’ needs.

Creative and strategic director Catherine Coulthard said: “I am so proud of the team and the participants for adapting to the new situation and still being able to produce amazing work.

"We have worked closely with Cumbria County Council, external agencies and participants and their families to ensure that their return to the venue is safe and that everyone is properly supported.

“We are delighted that we have been able to continue working with our participants, and even more delighted to have participants back in the studio!”

The organisation is offering two in-person days of creative sessions for adults with learning disabilities and autism – Studio Arts, which focuses on visual arts, and Studio Theatre, which focuses on drama and theatre production. They are also offering remote packages which are bespoke to the participants needs, which include video calls, house visits and art materials.

Participant Fiona Bell said: “It is great to be back.”

And lead artist Katie Lock said: “Our return to Studio Arts was utterly wonderful. It was so great to see our participant artists and to get stuck into creating art with them once again. We got up to lots of fun creative skills, from embroidery to marbling.”