Jen Blackwell


Jen is a dancer, charity director and ambassador for people with learning disabilities. Jen left school knowing she wanted to be a community dance worker, but couldn’t find the right role for 10 years, so she created it instead. In 2009 Jen set up DanceSyndrome with 14 other dancers – half professional dancers and half dancers with learning disabilities. DanceSyndrome became a charity in 2013, delivering inclusive workshops, performances, presentations and seminars. The learning-disabled dance leaders steer, direct and inform the charity at all levels – including the board – and manage the group’s choreography, training, workshops, and marketing.

Jen leads two weekly workshops, and runs seminars with students from four universities, as well as outreach workshops and performances. In 2015 she won Inspirational Woman of the Year at the Enterprise Vision Awards for female entrepreneurs in the North West.

DanceSyndrome has gone from strength to strength and last year was named Charity of the Year at the E3 business awards. Last year Jen won a Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award, became Lead Ambassador of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Team High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, and, as recipients of a National Lottery grant, Jen and DanceSyndrome went on prime time TV publicising their work.

Jen speaks about disability at events including at the House of Lords. This year DanceSyndrome were recognised by the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and won The People’s Award at the National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards. In recognition of her work Jen was invited to the Buckingham Palace Garden Party.

“I’m a winner again! I’m the Founder of DanceSyndrome, recognised and accepted for who I am, being the best that I can be, creating opportunities and changing lives. My charity shows the world what we can do, but we need charitable giving and people like you to help us make better futures for everyone.”.