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Nightclub for people with learning difficulties continues to Shine

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 March 2019

Club goers at a non-Shine event. Photo: NYNE

Club goers at a non-Shine event. Photo: NYNE

Archant

A Bexleyheath nightclub's special nights for those with learning difficulties is continuing to boom with more than 100 people turning out each month.

The NYNE Lounge is backing the monthly events called Shine, the brainchild of a local mum whose son has difficulties.

She was upset there was nowhere local for him to go along to and not stand out as being different.

She said she wanted him to have the opportunity to shine for all the right reasons.

Shine is exclusively for over 18s with learning difficulties, such as autism and Asperger’s.

It is run on the second Tuesday of every month from 7pm to 10.30pm and is also wheelchair accessible. Carers are allowed free entry.

Mum Helen Sharp worked with NYNE to organise Shine so that those with learning difficulties could meet new people and have a good time.

Now it is more than two years later, and the inclusive club night attracts around 100 visitors at each event.

Backing its success is Bexley councillor Brad Smith.

The cabinet member for adults’ services said: “It is so important that all Bexley residents have a safe and relaxed atmosphere where they can socialise, form new relationships and enjoy a night out.

“I hope that this club night continues to thrive and inspires other venues in the borough to consider hosting their own inclusive events.”

Helen told us: “My son Robbie who is 25 doesn’t go along to these nights himself for various reasons.

“But having him, and seeing what he has to endure means I wanted to do something for other families in similar situations.

“I have been doing things like this for 20 years because it is important.”

He went on: “My own son has special needs and it something I get pleasure from helping out with and promoting.”

Helen went on: “I started the Bexley Autistic Society because that is what drives me onwards. I want to help as many people as I can, and it is a full time responsibility.

“I have a passion for helping people, I suppose. The main thing is that I want to go everything for everyone else – my background is what makes me continue my work.”

General manager Arron Campbell said: “It was an event created because we thought it would be something good for the community, a safe environment for 18+ adults with learning difficulties to enjoy a night out in a safe and relaxed atmosphere.

“It has gained some traction since we started and it is great to see adults who wouldn’t necessarily venture in to a bar or club being able to relax and enjoy themselves. Most are still returning every month.

“The credit has to go to Helen for her work in making this work and spreading the word.

“She was incredibly committed to helping us set it up and improving opportunities to anyone with learning disabilities in general and now she wants to keep it all going for the people who really enjoy the nights out.”

He said: “It provides a comfortable environment to have fun without feeling judged. Guests are able to socialise with others whilst enjoying a night out.

“Usually the attendance is around 60-80 guests per event but the number has been rising over the years due to the night’s appeal and the reduced amount of nights for people with learning disabilities in and around the area.

Aaron said: “We believe everyone attending gets a lot out of it. It is amazing to see so many come along and make the most of the facilities.

“Even people from outside the area are hearing about Shine and coming along to see what it is all about, and that is brilliant for everyone involved.”

Entry is £5. NYNE Lounge is at 267 Broadway, Bexleyheath and for more information, visit www.nynelounge.com

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