Oliver Tipper is the manager of Club Soda, who I interviewed recently to find out more about the club, their aims and his views on how inclusive Croydon is. Club Soda is, as he described “a small arts organisation run by people with learning disabilities.” Their committee is made up of six adults, five of whom have a learning disability. They help to organise events, one of which is a night club event. Their team of 12 DJs, all with learning disabilities play the music on the night of different genres from easy pop, to grime and everything else in between. As well as that, they run a live music event called Soda Beat which is “London’s only regular night for musicians with learning disabilities.” He also said that “they are inclusive events and well-integrated and which is what Club Soda aims for. We want our events to be attended by a wide variety of people and so they’re open to anybody.” Their main aim is to get more people with learning disabilities both participating in the arts, as well as attending arts events, hence increasing opportunities for them. “Events are attended predominantly by people with learning disabilities. They’re our target audience with 70-80% of the audience having a learning disability,” he said. “The group also highlights the importance of raising awareness in Croydon and elsewhere, amongst people who don’t have disabilities. [By] raising the awareness of the skills of those with learning disabilities and just raising awareness of disabilities in general, people can have a better understanding.” Other than that, they also actively try to improve accessibility in Croydon. They “support artists with learning disabilities, as well as venues in Croydon. This is so that mainstream venues become more accessible to people with disabilities and more welcoming and friendly.” The reason for the club being set up in 2009, was to help make Croydon a more welcoming place for all. So, when asked about how inclusive he thinks Croydon is, he said “I don’t think Croydon is inclusive enough. Croydon suffers from a lack of everything, really. If we just focus on culture and entertainment for instance, there is a real shortage of decent places to go, and many arts companies and groups that are based in Croydon, don’t have venues.” There are neither the facilities, nor the progressive thinking of people within the community, to enable Croydon to be the inclusive place it should. In order to take steps towards further inclusivity, he suggests, “an obvious thing is just to talk to people with learning disabilities. We can easily make an effort to employ someone with a learning disability. We need to be more willing to give people with learning disabilities a chance. That will immediately make it more inclusive.” He also proposes that by getting people with learning disabilities onto the committee of Croydon, it will increase representation on the board. He hopes that Croydon will “become more accessible, because [if] a place is more accessible, it has better facilities to enable a wider range of people to come and enjoy these facilities. This will encourage inclusion as well. Wheelchair accessibility, and even better signage would help immensely.” He also remarked “we’re hoping a new music venue opens up in Croydon in the future. We just want culture to grow in Croydon. More opportunities in Croydon for arts and culture, means that what we do can have more exposure.” In conclusion, he believes that Croydon does have the potential to change, and in his opinion, “inclusion will come, as long as organisation like us are working in Croydon to inspire more change.” He continued, by saying “I think what we do by labelling everything produced by people with learning disabilities and trying to raise peoples’ awareness can only be a good thing.” Club Soda’s integrated events, help promote inclusivity and increase opportunities in Croydon for people with learning disabilities. Although there is yet a long way to go, he finished by saying “I know that Croydon can change and I am definitely sure that it will.” Aditi Rammohan Croydon High School