Since 2016, Chickenshed's Kensington and Chelsea branch have been working with Oxford Gardens, a primary school in North Kensington. The school was a key partner in our project Dreams of Freedom, which saw 600 children from across London come together to share their thoughts, ideas and dreams for a better world in a spectacular musical and theatrical performance at The Royal Albert Hall in June 2017.

Two weeks before the performance at the Albert Hall, the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower hit the community, directly affecting Oxford Gardens through losses and disruption due to the very close proximity to the tower. The school chose to continue their participation in the performance and really valued the positive experience the project gave the children in such a a difficult time. Chickenshed dedicated the performance to all those affected by the fire. 

In the immediate aftermath, Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea ran workshops throughout the summer with children who had been directly affected by the fire and began to plan for a longer term project that could help bring the community together. 

We worked recently with a boy with autism and a physical disability which affected his walking. His aunt (who acted as his carer) died at Grenfell so his mother had flown from Egypt and was trying to look after him but speaks no English so was struggling. After seeingthe ruined building, the boy had been very distressed and had spent school lessons crying and hitting his head, but staff at the refuge centre said he looked joyful and present whilst playing with Chickenshed for the hour we were there.

- Rachel Stott, Summer 2017 Workshop Leader

Thanks to funding from the City Bridge Trust, one year on from the tragedy at Grenfell Tower we continue to run weekly children's theatre workshops at Oxford Gardens, specifically targeting those directly affected and the community in the surrounding area. The workshops have proved to be a very special experience for all involved. There is a genuine feeling of support and joy between the children as they work together and create theatre. This term the team has been looking at the theme of 'wonder', gathering ideas from the children about all the things in the world that amaze and intrigue them. Through spoken word, movement and music, they've filled Oxford Garden's school hall with wonder itself.