Hay at the Mill is an annual collaboration with Ruskin Mill College in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire for Neurodiversity – a living conference.
The third annual collaboration between Hay Festival and Ruskin Mill Trust was due to take place in 2020. A special two-day Neurodiversity conference, themed 'Crafting Connections', was planned for July 2020, but was prevented from taking place by the coronavirus pandemic.
The theme of Crafting Connections was to inspire an exploration of neurodiversity in an atmosphere of creativity, social inclusion, research and lively cultural exchange. The event would have encouraged participants to experience the transformative potential of craft with Ruskin Mill Trust tutors and students in a wide range of craft workshops.
Over two days, the line-up of thought provoking speakers was to include the brilliant and charismatic Steve Silberman, award-winning author of NeuroTribes, a book about the legacy of autism and the future of neurodiversity; Kate Fox, performer and poet in residence, well known and respected in the neurodiverse community; and Dara McAnulty, a 16-year old activist and the author of Diary of a Young Naturalist, recognised in 2019 as a Global Shaker.
Aimed at autistic people and the professionals and parents that work alongside them, delegates were to work with Ruskin Mill students and tutors to experience the therapeutic and productive aspects of a craft-based curriculum.
Established over 25 years ago, Ruskin Mill Trust is a charity working with children and young people with complex behaviour and learning difficulties, including autistic spectrum conditions. Thousands of students have benefitted from the Trust’s innovative Practical Skills Therapeutic Education (PSTE) method helping young people overcome their barriers to learning and become skilled through real life purposeful activities and enabling them to realise their own potential. The Trust’s schools and colleges across the country offer both residential and day placements with admissions being accepted all year round. rmlt.org.uk