The August nightclub was my first experience of the Beat it nightclub and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
The nightclub is open to everybody, and it allows for some people who have spent their lives being marginalised by, and in many ways excluded from society, to get together and meet people from all walks of life. The nightclub offers the opportunity to tackle social exclusion not merely by offering the opportunity for service users to get out and meet people, but also in that by being open to all members of the public it raises awareness that there are people out there who, although they may need some additional support, should not be excluded from everyday life. Without events such as Beat it which promote social inclusion, people who may not otherwise encounter disability are made aware that not only does it exist, but that everyone is entitled to the same rights and access to society as everyone else. I like to think Beat it nightclub helps challenge mainstream stigma and preconceptions associated with having a disability.
What I witnessed was a group of people from a variety of backgrounds dancing and singing together, with nobody feeling left
behind or excluded because of the label that society may have assigned to them. Instead, I saw a room of people who connected over a shared passion for music and dancing and having a good time.
Social work needs to strive to promote greater access to such events which promote social inclusion, rather than just promoting services such as day centres and respite services which restrict people with disabilities to meeting only other people with disabilities. The Social Work profession through adopting a person centred approach which considers the wishes of the person, including how they want to be involved in wider society, can adopt the role of advocate for people who need that additional support in accessing community resources. Social work can be used in this way to promote the rights of the person to access such services and the community as a whole, providing that Social workers are committed to putting the individual’s wishes and feelings at the fore of their work, rather than this being a consideration secondary to the maintenance of existing services.
By creating environments where regardless of age, ability, gender or social background people can get together and share a passion for something like dancing or music then we are not only promoting treating everyone equally, respecting their rights to access all that society has to offer; we are also breaking down those barriers of exclusion and hopefully helping those who have felt marginalised in the past feel like included and valued members of society. Just as you don’t need to know the name of the person on the dance floor next to you, you don’t need to know what disability the person next to you might have, because at the end of the day everyone is there for the same reason. The only thing you need to know is that the person next to you is having a good time. And I can safely say that everyone on that dance floor was having a blast.