MannKind Festival will once again provide a fun-filled opportunity for people who have learning and physical disabilities, along with their families and carers this July. Georgie Revill, who set up the inclusive event, tells reporter Jess Ward what people can expect for the second-ever festival.
Karaoke, pilates, boom whackers, local musicians and delicious Manx food are just some of the things set for this year’s MannKind Festival.
Set in the rural surroundings of Silly Moos campsite in Lezayre, the event is an opportunity for those who have a disability to let loose at a festival - possibly for the first time in their lives.
Reflecting on last year, Georgie said: ’One girl said it was the highlight of her year. She had always wanted to go to a festival, but wouldn’t have been able to cope at a regular one.
’Our son, Ollie, who is 27 and autistic, hates balloons. He would love to go to a festival, but would hate it because there would be too many people making it too crowded and it would be too noisy for him.
’The field at Silly Moos is just perfect, as it’s very flat, contained and safe.
’MannKind Festival is a wonderful event, but the whole build up is about having a huge awareness that they can join in and have fun as well.’
About 30 volunteers will be there throughout the day to help families if need be.
There will be a mocktail bar, craft workshops, blind football, a teddy bear picnic, an animal zone, a cinema zone, a game zone as well as the Glampervan making a visit and Jackson’s Motability.
Georgie, who owns Cook Shack in Bride, believes that more can be done in the island to support those with disabilities.
’I just feel there’s not enough available for those with disabilities in the Isle of Man,’ she said.
’We want to give them a really lovely day in a place where they will not be jammed and where everyone there understands.’
In 2011, Georgie set up the Skills for Independent Living Scheme (SKILS) to help the learning disabled go into further education.
This was because in the Isle of Man there is a lack of continuing education for young adults with learning differences once they reach 18, she said.
The charity has funded a number of young adults to go off to Myerscough College in Preston, UK, where they studied horticulture, agriculture, countryside management and small animal care.
Ollie was one of the number to go to the college.
’Our son has now lived independently. If he hadn’t gone he wouldn’t be able to live on his own. This is saving tax payers a lot of money because otherwise he would have gone into care,’ she said.
’My charity is there to help towards costs of travel, gym memberships if they want, a TV licence... but I do feel it’s redundant because the government will say "there’s a charity there that will pay for the education", which I don’t think is right. It’s up to the government to pay for their education.
She added that it’s ’frustrating that tourism agency doesn’t promote MannKind Festival to the UK’.
’This event is probably the biggest disability festival in the UK this year. We could have families coming over here for the long weekend,’ she said. ’We have the safest environment here and have cottages for the disabled. We’re a caring nation.’
Having raised a son with autism, she is grateful for many services that have helped her family out over the years including Sailing for the Disabled and Autism Initiatives.
She added: ’Thank goodness for having Ollie! He brings us so much joy and has helped us to see things from a different angle.’
The event, which has received support from the Manx Lottery, is not only designed for the of those with disabilities, but for their carers who are ’sometimes neglected’, Georgie said.
’Being a carer is a full-time job. We will have therapists there to give confidence boosting chats to carers, to tell them they’re doing a great job,’ she said.
Tickets cost £5 per person for the day, which takes place on July 13 from 11am to 7pm.
Georgie would like to thank all sponsors and volunteers for their support.
You can find out more about MannKind Festival by searching: https://mannkindfestival.im or look up their Facebook and Instagram pages with the username: @MannKindFestival