Diverse City was awarded the Clore Duffield Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Prize in 2014, which enabled us to fund community engagement work throughout the Extraordinary Bodies tour of Weighting. We set out to develop a national network of Unexpected Leaders.

These Leaders are creative-thinking activists, who are passionate about social change delivered through the arts. They are Unexpected because they are people who may not usually get the chance to show their true potential to the world.

Between 2015 and 2016, our 10 Unexpected Leaders were selected from Southwark, Stoke-on-Trent, Blackpool & Wyre, Stratford London and Bristol.
Each leader gained experience working with the local community and Extraordinary Bodies circus company. They also received professional coaching to develop their leadership skills and a bursary to continue their personal development.

  • It has been a privilege to be accepted onto this programme,
    I have met some extraordinary people, I have challenged myself (and others!)
    and I have learned a lot about my own beliefs and internal drives.

    Laura Brennan

  • The Unexpected Leader/Diverse City programme impacted on me personally,
    and once again gave me a great sense of satisfaction and pride
    to be part of this amazing inspirational team.

    Shiya Mohan

  • It empowered me, gave me a platform to speak and enabled me to unchain my inability.
    The goal I wrote with Unexpected Leaders 2 years ago has been achieved today.

    Ayad Mosab

  • Taking part in the Unexpected Leaders programme enabled DJ to take his leadership skills seriously, and understand how to he wants his career to develop – both as an artist and leader.
    Sarah Archdeacon, PA to DJ

What next for the Unexpected Leaders programme?

This model is one we are keen to roll out with our other activities. Developing Unexpected Leaders is key to changing and diversifying the arts sector and also offers opportunity to develop the skills, talent and experience of those previously ignored or marginalised.

We are currently running a programme with Clore Leadership to develop disabled coaches to work across the arts in 2017-2018.

Photography credits: Richard Blakemore (Page header image)

Unexpected Leaders

Hannah Treadaway, sat with paper on her lap and looking away from camera.

Hannah Treadway

Hannah Treadway

Hannah Treadaway, sat with paper on her lap and looking away from camera.
Laura Brennan looking to camera wearing glasses

Laura Brennan

Laura Brennan

Laura became an Unexpected Leader in 2015, supporting the delivery of Weighting in Fleetwood and Doing Things Differently, an event by Diverse City and Bristol City Council, in 2016.

Laura specialises in community development and engagement in communities often described as ‘left behind’ working in both third sector and local authority. She is passionate about communities, equality and social justice.

Most recently Laura has co-founded and become a trustee of The Magic Club, a youth facility in Claremont, Blackpool. The Magic Club delivers a mix of traditional youth work, residential, project work and informal learning for young people aged 8-16 to reach their fullest potential.

Laura Brennan looking to camera wearing glasses
Jo Paul, smiling to camera

Jo Paul

Jo Paul

Jo Paul is a London based Clinical Hypnotherapist, she is also an Artist, Designer and Facilitator. In 2017, Jo was one of 14 participants selected for the Relational Dynamics 1st (RD1st) Introductory Coaching Course, as part of a collaboration between Diverse City and Clore Leadership Programme. Jo qualified as a Coach in December 2017 and you can read about her experience on the course here.

Jo comes from a design background and has an MA in Scenography from Trinity Laban Conservatoire, London. Her theatre designs have been seen in shows from Edinburgh Fringe to the Royal Opera House and her personal art work has been exhibited in galleries and spaces in the UK. Jo’s work, mainly 3D and installations, currently investigates human connection, threads and traces, memory and imaginings. And as an Arts Facilitator Jo has worked with many groups of people nationally and internationally, from 3 year olds, to vulnerable adults, to elders.

If you’re interested in working with Jo or receiving coaching, email Jo directly: create_change@me.com

Jo Paul, smiling to camera
Ayad has his back to the camera, with his arm raised and finger pointing.

Ayad Al-Ani Mosab

Ayad Al-Ani Mosab

Ayad was an asylum seeker who was granted refugee status in June 2016. His background was in corporate governance and administration as an auditor in his past life in Iran. Ayad does not have an arts background, although since coming to the UK has become involved in various projects that have made him aware of the positive impact the arts can have on both individuals and communities.

Ayad was a major contributor to the ‘Leads’ networking events held during the Extraordinary Bodies tour of Weighting in Stoke-on-Trent in 2015. He became an important gatekeeper for sections of the Stoke community, discussing and promoting Weighting within his networks and then gathering substantial feedback from those communities and translating it for our use. Ayad returned to work with the events team again, as the Extraordinary Bodies tour finished in Bristol as part of Doing Things Differently 2016.

In 2017, Ayad was invited to become a member of the Diverse City Board of Trustees.

Ayad has his back to the camera, with his arm raised and finger pointing.
Profile of Shiya, with a pink floral headband, smiling.

Shiyalini Mohan

Shiyalini Mohan

Shiya was an active college student and Barathanatyam dancer back home in Sri Lanka, until a serious accident severely affected her health. Her family relocated to the UK, where she had four major brain operations. Shiya now uses a walker to help her mobility and since becoming disabled has kept as active as possible; “When I sit down and do nothing I feel isolated.

Shiya acted as a gatekeeper, spokesperson and representative of her community, focusing on activating, promoting and advocating the Weighting project. She was also an integral member of the Extraordinary Bodies Community Choir in Stoke-on-Trent and Fleetwood.

Profile of Shiya, with a pink floral headband, smiling.
DJ jumping on stage with arms lifted.

Housni Hassan, aka DJ

Housni Hassan, aka DJ

DJ was the first person with a learning disability to get a personal development grant from Arts Council England, which he used to embark on his Silver Arts Award, overseen by Corali Dance Company. Following this, DJ has worked with Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, Jonzi D ProductionsNew Adventures, Spare Tyre, CandoCo 2, Oily Carte Theatre Company, Greenwich Dance Agency, and State of Emergency.

DJ is a showman who had a hugely positive influence on the Extraordinary Bodies company in Southwark. He became a role-model for younger choir members and he supported the delivery of the ‘Extraordinary Bodies Plays’ workshops within the community in Southwark.

DJ jumping on stage with arms lifted.
Rick Rogers, smiling to camera

Rick Rodgers

Rick Rodgers

Rick is a wheelchair user after an accident in 2008 caused damage to his nervous system; this disability has led to an understanding of movement adaptation which opened up a whole new way of understanding the practice of acrobatics and yoga and is constantly stimulating him to delve deep and become more creative.
Rick has studied many forms of movement and physicality throughout his life. He is a qualified physical theatre and circus performer, Rainbow kids yoga teacher, professional contemporary dancer and world famous cheerleader.
Rick joined the team during the 2015 tour of Extraordinary Bodies’ tour of Weighting in Southwark. Rick has since developed his own company, Uplifting Stunts. He also teaches inclusive yoga classes in South London, hoping to spread inclusive AcroYoga through workshops and retreats all over the world.
Rick Rogers, smiling to camera
Rachel Lambert - Unexpected Leader - Extraordinary Bodies 2015

Rachel Lambert

Unexpected Leader 2015 - Fleetwood & Stoke-on-Trent

Rachel Lambert

Since graduating from the University of Lancashire with a 2.1 BA Honours degree in Photography, Rachel has investigated the image of disability in media. Rachel was nominated for the Positive Role Model – Disability Category as part of the National Diversity Awards 2016.

As an Unexpected Leader, Rachel photographed Weighting in Fleetwood and Stoke-on-Trent. In May 2016 Rachel travelled to Portugal with the Diverse City Team for The Completed Freedom of Truth residency, documenting the International Festival de Música in Setúbal.

Rachel Lambert - Unexpected Leader - Extraordinary Bodies 2015
Profile of Keziah Benbow

Keziah Benbow

Keziah Benbow

Keziah was one of our Unexpected Leaders in 2016 and supported the planning and delivery of Doing Things Differently, an event by Diverse City and Bristol City Council. Kez is a performer and dance artist. After joining Gloucestershire Dance Youth Company she chose to specialise in contemporary dance and choreographed and performed in dance film The Ferryman, aged 16. She has recently graduated with a degree in Dance, she has been interning as a community dance practitioner for Strike a Light Festival with a variety of professional companies.

Kez recently accompanied EBYA with The Complete Freedom of Truth residency in Sarteano, Italy and is also working with Wyldwood Arts.

Profile of Keziah Benbow
Elana Binysh looking to camera

Elana Binysh

Elana Binysh

Elana studied Theatre at the University of Bristol and completed the Bristol Old Vic’s Made in Bristol programme in 2015. She works as a theatre-maker, dramaturg and performer and has worked with Arts Admin, Scram, The Pleasance Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath, Theatre Royal Plymouth and Bristol Old Vic. In 2016, Elana performed in her company Propolis Theatre’s show Spill: A Verbatim Show about Sex at Edinburgh Fringe.

Elana was one of our Unexpected Leaders in 2016 and supported the planning and delivery of Doing Things Differently, an event by Diverse City and Bristol City Council. Elana worked with Diverse City and Cirque Bijou as Assistant Producer for Extraordinary Bodies throughout 2016-2017, before returning to university to study a Masters at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in London.

Elana Binysh looking to camera