Colchester’s Mercury Theatre is continuing its work with young people with disabilities, thanks to further backing from a national charity.

The theatre, backed by Action for Children, offers courses, workshops and clubs to help children with conditions such as autism and is currently the largest single provider of out of school activities for young people with disabilities in north east Essex.

And parents of children benefitting from the Mercury projects have been quick to praise the theatre for their work with young people.

Jocelyn Fuller said the theatre’s work has brought her son Finlay, 15 on in leaps and bounds.

She says: “He has always been a very nervous child and struggled with self esteem and many of the challenges that autism brings with it.

“He had already found that he always enjoyed drama at school but often found it frustrating that others who were not as eager would mess around and disrupt the lessons.”

She said Finlay joined the after school Drama Club at his school, Kingswode Hoe and the lessons were fun, engaging, supportive and the sessions were the absolute highlight of his week.

Following on from this came Aspire which is the drama group held at the Mercury Theatre for young people with autism.

Jocelyn adds: “He was not just acting he was immersed in all areas of theatre although the acting still is his passion but it widens the scope and is good for his learning skills to.”

The Mercury’s support gave Finlay the confidence to audition for the theatre’s Young Company production of Treasure Island open to all.

“He went independently to rehearsals and this would have been unthinkable some time ago,” she says.

Finlay adds: “I really love it here and being in Treasure Island was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ll never forget it.”

Martin Russell, Head of Creative Learning and Talent at the Mercury Theatre “We strive to make the Mercury Theatre a community resource that serves everybody regardless of background, age and ability.

“I is an honour to be supported by Action for Children who recognise the commitment and passion of the Creative Learning and Talent team of the theatre.

“Ultimately we want to provide a platform for young people to develop a sense of place, belonging and a sense of voice where their creative development and creative futures are valued.”

Action for Children has been supporting the Mercury’s work since July last year helping them with schools, providing holiday workshops and the launch of regular club nights for young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Colchester.

There are two Aspire workshops planned for August. Both are five-day workshops using drama, movement, light and sound to develop story telling skills and run from August 6 to 10 for 7 to 12-year-olds and from August 13 to 17 for 13 to 18-year olds.

For more information about the Mercury Theatre’s Aspire project, workshops and youth theatre go to or call 01206 573948.