A New Horizons Day Service Project for adults with physical disabilities living in Cardiff and The Vale of Glamorgan.
I’m so over the moon with everybody who kept the group going, with all the technology … it’s so important … it’s like the meaning of life isn’t it, music and dance? I can’t express how thrilled I am the group is still going, it just means so much to me, it’s lovely that you’re doing what you’re doing … I just wanted to say a huge thank you … it’s vital isn’t it, to the world … to be all together again it’ll be even better then but I’m just so glad that you’re doing the Zoom stuff, I think it’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!C (facilitator)
Supported by Glamorgan Voluntary Services through the COVID-19 High Risk Group Charity and Voluntary Group Small Grant Scheme.
Background to the Project
New Horizons Day Service is based in Barry and provides a Day Service for people who have a permanent/ substantial physical disability, aged 18-65 years old, who live in the Vale of Glamorgan. The Day Service is part of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Social Services Department.
This project was devised specifically to support New Horizons service users (and their familes/ carers), who, due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 Lockdown were no longer able to attend the Day Centre. This makes our community of need increasingly vulnerable and isolated from their usual support systems.
Facilitators from Breathe Creative have previously run successful projects at New Horizons to support the health and wellbeing of Service Users, including the Scratch Band project for Gwanwyn (Age Cymru) in 2019. Safeguarding issues are prioritised and regularly monitored through supervision and training for our facilitators provided by Rhys Hughes, our Counselling/ Non-Managerial Supervisor.
Breathe Creative is a team of creative facilitators, social prescribers and counsellors who offer a safe, trauma-sensitive environment and a therapeutic process through creative expression, relaxation and mindfulness activities. We offer different art forms for wellbeing (e.g. music, singing, art, dance, digital storytelling, animation, photography, creative cooking, drama, and creative writing). Participants are given space to develop their own ideas and style – there is no right or wrong way; it is important for the participants to gain an understanding of their own thoughts as this process allows them to develop at their own pace, supporting their individual means of self expression to help them gain a broader perspective of their situation and also to have a break from their day to day worries and concerns by being immersed in the creative flow.
Our ‘New World’ New Horizons’ Project offered New Horizons’ service users weekly singing and movement for wellbeing workshops via on-line sessions, to support them during the Lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic. Through an online app, a member of staff from New Horizons, three experienced creative arts facilitators plus a team of volunteers offered singing, movement and arts for wellbeing workshops which helped to provide structure to the client’s day.
Our workshops connect and intentionally restore emotional stability, we allow space for individuals to explore and process the situation they are in, find balance and make sense of their world. The workshops offered joy, connection to others, a routine and a sense of safety. We also listen, build up trust and acceptance, using a person-centred, non- judgmental approach, asking open questions in session opening circles and endings (book-ending the singing/movement activities each week) to encourage input throughout the workshops and reminding participants of their positive coping mechanisms. The most vulnerable service users had not left their home in over 9 weeks at the start of the project. We wanted to remind participants of their strengths, resilience, sense of humour and creativity and together find ways to connect, support each other and even find new possibilities.
The creative sessions worked with around 12 service users. New Horizons also has volunteers who helped us in developing the workshops and supported the programme. The project started in Summer 2020 and spanned the following six months.
Literally it saves my life, because I get so depressed because I’m sat here on my own … I don’t know what I’d do without it, I really don’t know what I’d do without it … actually meeting people you know on line … we’re all in the same room although we’re not, it really is a life saver!Teresa
You sort of uncurl … you uncurl and blossom.Linda
The music makes us feel good, it doesn’t matter what mood you’re in when you start, as soon as you start singing and breathing and seeing everybody it uplifts your spirit you know, it takes you up a notch … yeah wonderful, even though we’re in the same room.. I’d come in and I’d be in a reasonable mood you know … but I felt so marvelous going home, I felt all light and bubbly and invigorated.Linda
The group seem energised by the opportunities presented by what was once a constraint. Taking part in the sessions from home via Zoom is no longer isolating but a real opportunity for further connection. They began to take ownership of the project and, more surprisingly perhaps, the process:
I’m thinking, sometimes people can’t come to the centre if they’re not well, I’m wondering when we do get back to normal we can do a Zoom for those people to join us who can’t reach.Jackie
We can do it from this end, we can be the host then … if everybody’s in no problem, we wouldn’t need to use it, but if there is somebody home poorly or whatever, or for whatever reason they can’t get in, they’re waiting for a wheelchair repair or whatever, we can invite them in through the Zoom.Linda