Introduction to Toolbox Drama​

Toolbox Drama is an inclusive provision for adults with additional needs. We deliver drama, music, dance and singing programmes on a weekly basis, as well as regular outreach workshops and large scale events. Please browse through our website for further information about our services.

We ensure that our activities are accessible to a multitude of needs, whilst also delivering high-quality creative arts activity delivered by experienced performers and practitioners. We have been fortunate enough to receive financial support from national funders such as Arts Council England, People’s Postcode Lottery and Awards For All. We also work closely with regional funders such as the Ward Committees in York, Two Ridings Community Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, Adult Commissioning Services and the Ways to Wellbeing Fund. Our incredible funders have allowed us to develop low cost (and in some cases free!) activity and events, reaching some of the most vulnerable adults within our community. We are incredibly grateful for their continued support and belief in our services.

Ellie Tillotson -
Founder And Artistic director

I am a freelance practitioner and producer based in the wonderful city of York. My background is in storytelling and delivering accessible arts events for adults with learning disabilities. I also produce live art festivals for communities and theatres in and around Yorkshire.

Toolbox Drama became a Community Interest Company in 2021 and quickly flourished into a creative hub for adults with additional needs. It is a real honour to be supporting so many adults in accessing the arts through our sessions and events, I look forward to seeing how our provision will continue to grow and thrive in the future!

Siân Whitley -
Drama and Movement Practitioner

Hello, my name is Siân and I am a Drama and Movement practitioner based in York. I graduated from York St John University with a degree in Drama: Education and Community. 

My dance background has allowed me to explore the benefits of dance for dementia and dance for wellbeing. I love that movement has no language barriers and allows so many people to connect with their loved ones but most importantly themselves.

I love to make people smile and aim for all of my practices to do this.

Alysha Smith -
Music Practitioner

Hi, I’m Alysha and I like to consider myself an artsy, nerdy historian as I am educated in both music and history! I’m originally from Canada but fell in love with the UK after studying here and now live and work in York as a music practitioner and a manager of youth activities and provisions.

My background as a singer and a historian has made me absolutely love how music and culture can bring joy into the lives of so many people.

As I build a practice that offers inclusive, artistic and most importantly fun experiences, I look forward to the meaningful ways I can be part of people’s creative journeys!

Meg Padgett -
Drama and Movement Practitioner

I moved to York to study Drama: Education and Community at York St. John University, now living and working here as a freelance performance artist and facilitator. I fell in love with York!

In my practice, I work with varying community groups, with accessibility to the arts being a key focus of my work. I love to create vibrant classes exploring social connection and creativity. I enjoy exploring new ways we can be creative together.

Outside of my classes, I am a performance artist that creates movement-based performances. I am a lover of nature, and enjoy weaving this into my performances too.

Lucy Scruton -
Associate Dance Practitioner

I am a freelance dance teacher and aspiring Educational Psychologist. I am a proud Yorkshire girl, having grown up in York and although I am biased, I love everything about the city!

I work with a range of individuals starting from pre-school age to adults. I adore creating fun-filled and inclusive dance classes that everyone can enjoy. I have studied additional needs and dance separately for many years, so I love bringing my two passions together.

My classes are full of colour, enhance a social connection and most importantly, involve lots of dancing and moving! My main goal in each class is to bring a bit of happiness to everyone.

Olivia Macnab -
Voluntary Practitioner in Development

Hi, I’m Olivia, and I’m a freelance drama practitioner, writer and storyteller. As an autistic theatre kid, growing up in York, the arts scene around here has always been my safe space, and I’m excited to be able to offer that space to other people!

After volunteering with Toolbox Drama back in 2018 and falling in love with sensory drama practice, I graduated from Bishop Grosseteste University in Applied Drama in the Community in 2023, and I’m currently training and expanding my portfolio and practice. I have a particular specialism in working with autism and neurodivergency, and my book “Creative Reading and Writing in Autism” is being published in February 2024.

In order to train and specialise, I was able to secure the Arts Council England fund “Develop Your Creative Practice”, and I’m currently undergoing an eight-month process of research, development and training to develop my own projects specific to sensory-based work. As part of this, I’m excited to be shadowing, training and learning with Toolbox Drama!

Abbie Jennings -
Resident Photographer

Abbie is a freelance photographer based in Yorkshire. She loves documenting people and places and bringing projects to life with colourful imagery.

She works with lots of regular clients and organisations around the country to capture a wide variety of arts and culture.

Martin Crosby -

I have worked in charities and higher education for my career.

These roles have included working with students to start up locally focused projects, working with various services to assist when someone goes missing or experienced trafficking, leading grassroots community organisations and most recently being responsible for a large student life, residential and wellbeing provision at the University of York.

In these roles I have always enjoyed working with and learning lots from those with additional support needs.

As a director at Toolbox Drama I am excited to be a small part of a team finding opportunities and platforms for our wonderful service users.

Megan Atkinson -

My name is Meg and following the completion of my Bachelor’s degree in Communications, I have worked in Digital Marketing and Communications for the past 11 years for various companies across the North of England.

I’m passionate about supporting my local community and love to do this through work and in my spare time. I have been involved in various charities and organisations over the years and love to do my bit to support great provisions like Toolbox Drama.

Outside of work, my happy place is cooking and spending time with my family and friends.

Jane Cross -

Born in North Yorkshire, I studied at Queen Mary College, London before embarking on a career in primary education in Surrey, moving to York in 1997.

I am married to husband Mike, and have two children, including my adult daughter, who is on the autistic spectrum and has additional needs, and is a very enthusiastic participant of Toolbox Drama.

Now retired, I enjoy travel, gardening, and baking in my spare time, and walking our black lab across muddy fields. 

Elle Stockdale -

I have previously worked with children, young people and families within my career, including in a charity setting. 

I currently work for the University of York in Student Life and Well-being. Prior to this, I worked for two Youth Offending Teams in both Lincolnshire and Wakefield, including in Youth and Crown Courts. I also worked as a Special Constable for North Yorkshire Police and been a manager for Victim Support. 

My passion is working with people and their families and I am excited to continue that work alongside Toolbox Drama.

Separate from these I enjoy spending time with my little boy and running. 

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