Chichester Festival Theatre is introducing a ‘CFT Buddies’ scheme to support those at risk of being socially isolated, such as disabled or elderly people who don’t feel able or comfortable attending a performance on their own. The free scheme, which is being piloted for the Relaxed Performance of Fiddler on the Roof on 26 July, will provide a companion for audience members who may not have the necessary carer support to enable them to enjoy a theatre visit.
The scheme is intended to assist elderly and socially isolated patrons; those with learning difficulties or who are on the autistic spectrum; and individuals with physical disabilities or with eyesight and hearing difficulties.
Louise Rigglesford, Community Partnerships Manager at Chichester Festival Theatre, says: ‘The idea for the CFT Buddies scheme was born from the testimony of a 92 year-old long-standing audience member, who loved the Theatre but was no longer physically able to come alone. We’ve had a fantastic response from volunteers interested in becoming a Buddy, all of whom will receive training; and we very much hope this scheme will become an important extension of our mission to welcome as wide and diverse an audience as possible.’
CFT Buddies will assist patrons in booking and collecting tickets; meet them on arrival at the Theatre; guide them to their seats and sit with them through the performance; help buy any refreshments and locate washroom facilities; and stay with them until the patron has been collected or are safely on their way home. There will also be an opportunity for patrons to meet their assigned buddy at the Theatre in advance of the performance, in order for their needs to be fully understood.
Anyone interested in signing up to the CFT Buddies scheme ahead of the Relaxed Performance of Fiddler on the Roof on 26 July should call the box office on 01243 781312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.