Walkers on OneFest's OneWalk through Mansfield town centre.

Mansfield’s OneFest kicks off with ‘amazing’ day

Amazing – that is how the organisers described the opening days of OneFest, a week of festivities in Mansfield which gives people with learning disabilities and autism ‘an equal place in the community’.

By Wayne Swiffin
Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 6:30 am

The inaugural OneFest began on Monday and runs until Sunday, September 19, promising seven days of culture, conversation and comedy.

The OneWalk began a couple of years ago but has proved such a success that it has been turned into OneFest, which is underpinned by an “eclectic and lively programme” of laughs, theatre, free workshops, social events and panel discussions.

The stellar line-up of artistes includes Britain’s Got Talent winner Lee Ridley – aka Lost Voice Guy – Harriet Dyer, Aaron Simmonds, Cerys Bradley, Juliette Burton and Jonny Awsum.

The innovative festival is the brainchild of One Conversation, an activist charity based in Mansfield which works to dismantle the stigma, discrimination and segregation experienced by people with disabilities.

It joined forces with Ingenious Fools, a Nottingham-based production company, run by Susanna Clark, that stages theatre and comedy tours across the UK.

Tracy Radford, who co-founded the innovative event with Brad English, said: “It’s been amazing, and everything we hoped it would be and more.

“There has been a good turnout, and it’s all about social change and trying to say we need to smash the status quo and make it better and more equitable than it is at present.”

Mansfield MP Ben Bradley and mayor Andy Abrahams were among those in attendance on the opening day of the festival, which featured the fourth annual OneWalk march, as well as live music all day on an open-air stage.

Mr Bradley said: “There’s a serious message here about the rights of people with learning difficulties and autism, and some thought-provoking conversations about our expectations and ambition for people.”“One Conversation is about having awkward discussions and asking difficult questions about disability.”

Mr Abrahams said: “It’s great that Mansfield is leading the way on this issue and getting people to think differently about things.”

Members of the public have already taken part in events, as have local businesses. Colleagues from Mansfield Building Society, which recently opened new premises at the bottom of Regent Street, took part in the OneWalk, part of One Fest.

A full list of events can be found at oneconversation.co.uk/events

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