A festival which offers a safe and friendly environment to people with learning difficulties is upping the ante ahead of this year’s event.
Apulstock, which began nine years ago, is looking for more funding and volunteers to spread its offering throughout the year.
Aldwick man Alex Fryer, who runs an adult care centre in Chichester, set up the festival in 2011 and said the organisers were looking at what more the festival could be offering the community.
He said: “I think there are a number of grants out there we can go for and next year I think I’d like to set it up as a CIC (community interest company).”
To carry out his vision, Alex is looking for more helping hands.
“It’s all about finding people who will go above and beyond. The people we have do it just for the love of seeing the joy on someones face as they come into the festival. It’s a place where everyone’s accepted.
“We also need to look into funding, not just for this year but for future years.”
Alex said the festival would be looking to more than just one event per year.
“There’s one big event and we are looking at doing maybe three during the course of the year – it’s needed.”
This year's festival will take place on July 20 at Barnham Community Hall and will feature the talents of a number of bands including Iron Tyger, The Hawkmen, Nick Cook’s Circus School and Suzanne Hill School of Dance.
Mum and full-time carer Pauline Ure travels down every year with her 25-year-old son Connor who has downs syndrome.
She said: “It’s a big thing for us and there aren’t enough about. It’s a chance to feel safe and comfortable.
“Connor’s favourite band at the event are Iron Tyger. That’s the highlight for the kids, the whole place usually erupts.”
Pauline said it can be difficult to enjoy live music in pubs and other venues because it can be quite scary, Pauline said. “Here the disability seems to be invisible, you can really relax and totally enjoy your self. It’s just sad that there aren’t more in other areas.”
This year Connor invited his Petersfield friends to the festival.
Alex added: "From the very first day that we started doing Apulstock, nearly ten years ago, it became clear that we had identified a real need for accessible live music events.
"Our audience comes from all over the UK, so I think that this is reflected across the country, not just in West Sussex.
"By taking this opportunity to grow Apulstock, with the right people involved, I believe that we could bring even more joy to people across the south of England, promoting inclusion and changing lives.
"Ideally I would like to see us put on several live music events across the year, including the festival in the summer and who knows, perhaps even start a band of our own."
For more information on the event or to get involved visit: www.apulstock.co.uk