Our Community Work

For over 25 years, we have put inclusion, accessibility and reaching out to the disenfranchised at the centre of our philosophy and work.

Our growing community programme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, provides young people and adults who are economically deprived, have disabilities and learning difficulties, and those struggling with mental health and addiction a platform and a voice to express themselves creatively and challenge the negative and restrictive ways in which they are often viewed by society.

We don’t believe in charging fees or auditioning young people, so if you are interested in joining our community at Red Rose Chain or want to find out more about the work we do, please email katy@redrosechain.com

All our workshops are held at The Avenue Theatre, Gippeswyk Hall, Ipswich, IP2 9AF.


“I am lucky enough to be involved in one of the activities organised by Red Rose Chain for vulnerable people of all ages. I cannot praise the company highly enough. No-one is turned away, and as a support worker of one of the members of the group, I have seen first-hand how the quiet, nervous, self-conscious, and sometimes overpowering individuals, become confident, happy, funny participants in the supportive group that has now become our ‘family’.”


“Opportunity and inclusivity are both fundamental to Let’s Create, the Arts Council’s vision for arts, culture and creativity in England for 2020-30. These are brilliantly embodied by Red Rose Chain and we’re proud to invest in their work to break down barriers and transform perceptions of what young disabled artists can and do achieve.”

Arts Council England

The Chainers

The Chainers is a company for young people from the ages of 11 to 18 that develop their skills and confidence through performance. They have developed a passion for local history and work closely with historian Mandy Rawlins to research and create stories about their own identity and their communities from the past.

Last year, their “beautiful and deeply poignant” (EADT) production DREAD ZEPPELIN, explored the fascinating lives of the people living in Ipswich and working in our home, Gippeswyk Hall, during the First World War.

The Chainers have just finished performing THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN, their new play about the rise and fall of the self-proclaimed ‘Witch Finder General’ Matthew Hopkins, as part of a project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. This incredible play was researched and created by the young people and performed to sold out audiences! 

“A triumph at any level. Pure theatre” – Libby Purves on The World Turned Upside Down

The Chainers – meet weekly on Wednesday evenings

The Gold Chainers

The Gold Chainers is a company for young people with additional needs, disabilities and learning difficulties. This group of inspiring young actors are extraordinary in the diversity of their talents, as well as their compassion and sensitivity towards their peers.

Last year, the group made their amazing play ‘MIDAS’ into a film, which enjoyed huge success as part of the Big Trouble Little Pictures Film Festival in Cambridge, as well as performing at the opening of the prestigious High Tide Festival in Aldeburgh.

Now the Gold Chainers are working on their ground-breaking project The Nightingale, a sensory play for young people with disabilities and their families. This has been funded by Arts Council England and is challenging the barriers for disabled young people to access the arts and preconceptions of what they can achieve.

The Nightingale has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be returning very soon! Read more about the THE NIGHTINGALE here!

The Gold Chainers – meet weekly early Thursday evenings

Avenue Community Theatre (ACT)

ACT is a company for adults with disabilities, learning difficulties and adults struggling with mental health and addiction. They come together weekly to create thought provoking theatre and film that challenges the way society views vulnerable adults and those who are different.

Most recently, ACT were commissioned by Suffolk Adults Safeguarding Board to create their “thought provoking & intensely moving” play PAULA, exploring the mental health pressures facing vulnerable adults living independently. The play has now been made into a film funded by Leading Lives, and will premiere in February 2020, raising awareness of the issues with the public, support workers and professionals.

ACT are now working on their new play, as part of a project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund,  that will tell the stories of those who were persecuted during the 17th Century Suffolk Witch Hunts, led by Matthew Hopkins.

ACT – meet weekly on Tuesday afternoons

Outreach Work

Our community programme also takes our work and ethos into our community, reaching some of the most hardest to reach, disadvantaged and marginalised people. We are proud to work on innovative projects in prisons, most recently with the residents at HMP Warren Hill, delivering high quality arts training and workshops that focus on their rehabilitation and development.

We work with disadvantaged young families and refugees, delivering an innovative storytelling programme across children centres in Ipswich. Funded by The Ragdoll Foundation, our interactive shows for under 5s develop the skills and confidence for parents to read and play with their children, with over 100 young children taking part last year in JACK AND THE BEAN STALK.

We also work closely with pupil referral units and local schools across Suffolk, delivering specialist theatre workshops in partnership with our professional theatre productions at The Avenue Theatre.  In 2019, we welcomed over 1000 children to  watch our special school performances of our Christmas production, THE MAGIC FISHBONE.

“I’ve seen how groundbreaking arts programmes give hardened inmates a voice and a belief in the power of redemption…The Citizen was just one project, in one small prison. But it felt like a beacon of hope. A bit like Christmas.”  

Libby Purves, The Times (2018)

“We work day in, day out with these guys and they are so difficult to reach. And you have reached them today and brought them out of themselves. You gave them light. Words cannot express how grateful we are.” 

Chris Benson, SEN Teacher

“Both my 3 and 1 year old have loved it every week and we’ve really looked forwards to it each week. It’s been great to see both of their confidence grow as well” 

Parent from Jack in the Beanstalk

  • Caitlin from our Gold Chainers Youth Theatre has been baking some jam tarts that would make the Queen of Hearts ver… https://t.co/If1C1QuJPk
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