The Blair Academy
1732. Charlie Blair
Charlie Blair, from London, is the founder of ‘The Blair Academy’, a social enterprise that provides dance workshops to support vulnerable people, from young people to care home residents, in order to combat loneliness and social isolation.
As a teenager, Charlie experienced loneliness whilst homeless and living in a hostel, but found that dancing was a form of escape and a way of easing pressure. Later, whilst looking after her terminally ill Nan, Charlie trained as a carer and helped elderly people aged in their 80s and 90s who were isolated, and was inspired to act and use dance to help others in a vulnerable position to overcome feelings of loneliness. Set up in 2018, ‘The Blair Academy’ has brought the power of hip-hop to over 5,000 people across London and the South East, and delivered more than 1,000 workshops. In the past year, in light of the pandemic, Charlie has been running live sessions on YouTube and produced a monthly DVD subscription service for older participants, helping to make hip-hop dance accessible and enjoyable to new audiences.
In a personal letter to Charlie, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was so inspired to hear of your story and how you use hip hop to bring the joy of dance to people of all ages and backgrounds.
“You have brought over 5,000 people across London and the South East together to enjoy the music and dance that you love. Whether it is older people in care homes or vulnerable young people, you have found a way to inspire and give confidence to those who might otherwise feel isolated.”
Iain Duncan Smith, Charlie’s local MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, said:
“The Blair Academy was founded by Charlie Blair knowing that she wanted to help people get into dance and is a culmination of Charlie’s experiences as a Hip Hop dancer, homeless teen, and carer for the elderly. Thanks to Charlie Blair’s tireless efforts, the Blair Academy team has grown from a small initiative to now working with a multitude of care homes, day centres, hostels and schools helping over 5000 people of all ages boost their health and happiness through Hip Hop Dance. I am enormously pleased that the Prime Minister has recognised Charlie Blair and her team’s outstanding contribution in their local community with the Points of Light award.”
In response to receiving the award, Charlie said:
“It’s really special for me to have my work acknowledged in this way. I feel proud that I’ve been able to take traumatic life experiences and transform them into an idea which helps other people boost their health and happiness.”