Professional actor, Sam Barnard, has recently joined the bemix workforce as Supporter for Risky Business, our performing arts group.

"It's good to see a support worker with a learning difficulty and adults with a learning difficulty having the same rights to work" - Matt Stretton (Risky Business member)

Since it was formed over 15 years ago, bemix (formerly called Skillnet Group) has always made sure that people with and without learning difficulties/disabilities have worked equally alongside those without to develop, run and manage the work we do. We call this way of working 'co-production'. It means that the support and projects that we offer are not only best suited to meet the needs and interests of everyone involved, but that we are living and working in the way we hope to see extended across the rest of society. This year, to support our vision, we have partnered with The Education People to co-sponsor a brand new Award in the KEiBAs (Kent Enterprise in Business Awards); Valuing Disability in Business. We want to celebrate the other great employers who also value and benefit from employing people with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Sam Barnard has been a member of bemix for over ten years.  Sam started with bemix in the Media Group in Dover.  Since then, he has been involved in a number of bemix groups, learning skills and doing courses in music, media and catering. Sam also joined and helped form 'I'm Alright' a drama group in bemix.  The group took advice from Risky Business, bemix's more established drama group.
"I am really pleased to have the chance to help and support Risky Business now. I loved their production of " One Vision" at the Theatre Royal, Margate and it would be great to do more performances like that" - Sam
In 2007, bemix was contacted by a Casting Director looking for people to audition for a lead role in TV Drama Coming Down the Mountain. Sam was interested and, with support from bemix, contacted the Casting Director.  From that point on, Sam continued to develop his acting career and over the last ten years has worked in TV, including shows like The Inbetweeners, Eastenders, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Grantchester, Casualty and Silent Witness.
Sam has also started to do some theatre work. Last year, he was in a pantomime performance of Jack and the Beanstalk and also played Pozzo in Waiting for Godot at Hackney Showroom.
"The best character I played was the last one as Jonny Fletcher in the BBC Radio 4 Drama Series "First World Problems" - I loved that role because it was a complex character in a really well written drama. I hope more like him come along." - Sam

Take a look at Sam's showreel
to see what he has been working on

We asked Sam how he feels about working with bemix. 

"I am very proud to get this job with bemix. I love bemix's values and have learned so much from the bemix courses i have attended. The job gives me the chance to share my acting experience and support other people who love drama like I do so we can co-produce some really good new work and have a lot of fun doing it. I can also learn a lot from Louise Monroe's experience leading the group and as an actor and I really look forward to that."
Louise Monroe is the lead supporter for the group.  Louise has experience as a drama teacher, Head of Drama and Performing Arts in several London schools, and mentor to drama teacher trainees at Goldsmiths University.  Louise has also worked in adverts and music videos, has been Artistic Director with a number of Theatre and has produced Company performances and films.

What's next for Risky Business?

Between them, Louise, Sam and the Risky Business group members are planning great things!   They are keen to start showing their work to other people and taking it on tour.  Sam hopes that the group can plan and perform a production over the next year. The group have been working on a sketch called 9 Hours.  The sketch was developed after Risky Business were inspired by the true story of Daniel Smith, a young man with autism who had been a victim of hate crime.  A police investigation found that Daniel was wrongly arrested and prosecuted. His autism had not been recognised. He had not had the support he needed. The song expresses Daniel’s fear and frustration during the traumatic 9 hours in custody he experienced.
As with all of bemix's projects, Risky Business aims to collaborate with the wider community wherever possible.  Sam is keen to go out into the community and make links with schools and the police to promote the sketch, along with partnering up with other bemix projects like Be Seen, Be Heard (formerly called the Schools Project).
Sam hopes he can support the group to get more people to join make links with some other established drama groups around the country.