The Mayor of Derry/Strabane, Cllr Sandra Duffy, joined staff at the Millennium Forum for celebrations earlier this week following the news that the theatre has received Makaton Friendly Status.  The North West’s leading cultural venue is the first theatre in Ireland to achieve this special accreditation and is the latest achievement for the award-winning theatre.

Lisa Heaney, Box Office & Access Manager, said:

We are delighted to be awarded the Makaton Friendly Status. This award recognises the work that we are continuing to do in order to ensure that our venue is fully accessible to all our patrons. We are passionate about communication and firmly believe that all children and adults with learning and/or communication difficulties should enjoy equal access to our theatre. Because of this, our panto last Christmas included a Makaton version of Jingle Bells which all of the cast and staff learnt in advance.  It was great to see everyone participating and it reinforces our commitment to providing an inclusive experience for everyone attending our shows.”

Ana María Valadez Peña, Makaton Tutor, added:

“As a parent of a young adult with a rare chromosome disorder, severe learning difficulties and complex medical needs, the world of the Arts has always provided a great means of escapism. The enjoyment that my daughter feels when she is in the theatre, makes me forget for a while the challenges that come with having special needs. 

I am very proud to have played a little part in the Millennium Forum achieving their Makaton Friendly Status. They have gone the extra mile to make sure that everyone feels welcome and included. The staff embraced the training and most of them have done a Makaton Taster.

The Makaton Friendly Status puts the Millennium Forum on the Makaton Friendly map of The Makaton Charity website. It is my ultimate goal to see more places and organisations in our community gaining The Makaton Friendly Status. Congratulations to the Millennium Forum for leading the way!”

Makaton Friendly is a partnership program designed to make organisations and community spaces more accessible to Makaton users. The programme drives inclusivity to help create a fairer and more tolerant society for everyone.


Photo caption:

L-R:  Paddy McDermott (Millennium Forum Front of House Manager), Ana María Valadez Peña (Makaton Tutor), Mayor of Derry/Strabane, Cllr Sandra Duffy, Lisa Heaney (Box Office & Access Manager, Millennium Forum)