Transforming lives through cinema

We take a look at the impact of two installations delivered by charity Together For Cinema and explore how they’ve transformed lives.

White Lodge Centre

In the heart of Chertsey, UK the White Lodge Centre stands as a beacon of inclusivity and support for individuals with disabilities and their families. Serving over 2,500 individuals with a diverse range of services, White Lodge embodies a vision of a world where everyone, regardless of ability, can thrive. Central to this vision was the installation of a cinema room in July 2020, a project undertaken by the installer ProAV.

Mike Hey, Head of Marketing and Fundraising at White Lodge, reflects on the impact of the new cinema space: "We support individuals with disabilities who find accessing regular cinemas challenging due to accessibility issues and discomfort in public settings. This includes difficulties with parking, limited disabled spaces, and uncomfortable seating arrangements.

“Our support extends to high-functioning children on the autism spectrum who may experience sensory sensitivities. Our new cinema facility at White Lodge provides an inclusive environment, accommodating over 10 people at a time and allowing us to manage light and noise levels to suit our users. We offer a range of cinematic experiences, including popular blockbusters and special interest programs like the BBC's Frozen Planet, catering to the diverse preferences of our members."

One such individual is Rowan, a resilient 3 1/2-year-old who has overcome significant health obstacles since birth. Suffering with cerebral palsy, sight and hearing impairments, and other conditions, Rowan's journey to communication and social interaction has been bolstered by the immersive experience of the cinema room. Here, surrounded by familiar faces and captivating films, Rowan's development flourishes as they engage with the sensory richness of the environment.

Derian House

Similarly, in Chorley, the Derian House Children’s Hospice is a sanctuary for children and young people facing life-limiting conditions. With a commitment to creating joyful memories in a nurturing environment, Derian House welcomed the addition of a cinema room in August 2019, courtesy of Intuitive Homes and the support of Together for Cinema.

David Robinson, Chief Executive of Derian House, emphasises the significance of the cinema room in providing moments of joy and respite for families facing unimaginable challenges. “It quickly became a firm favourite with our children. Since the opening, hundreds of families have enjoyed their very own movie nights (complete with hotdogs and popcorn!) secure in the knowledge that they can make memories together in a clean and safe environment. The cinema is well-used by children staying at the hospice for respite, with many happy hours spent relaxing on our huge beanbags singing along to Disney movies.”

Rachel Lund, one of the parents of the children that accesses the services at Derian House, shares her gratitude about being able to access the cinema room there. “Alfie is my son,” she says. I’m hugely thankful for the work Together for Cinema does, which enables Alfie and people like him to experience something they wouldn't normally be able to. Without the kindness and generosity of your organisation, supporters and sponsors this wouldn't be possible. Precious family memories made and a very happy boy! Derian House and Together for Cinema rock!”

Riziah, another child benefiting from the space, finds joy in the cinema room at Derian House, where cleanliness and safety are paramount. Her mother, Naomi, highlights the importance of a clean environment, especially after Riziah's battle with sepsis. Being able to enjoy herself in a safe space boosted their confidence to venture out. “Riziah just loves the fact she can dance away to the songs, sit on the huge beanbags and eat popcorn from the biggest tub you can find,” Naomi smiles.

In the journey towards inclusivity and empowerment, creating the cinema rooms is not merely entertainment, it is a catalyst for connection, growth, and resilience. Through initiatives like Together for Cinema, the AV industry continues to redefine the boundaries of accessibility, ensuring that every individual, regardless of ability, can benefit from the transformative power of film.

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