We can all be creative. It’s an opportunity to let your imagination take the reins and look at new and original ways to approach something. So if your response is ‘But I’m rubbish at drawing’ or ‘I can’t sing’, then read on…
I am a big advocate of creativity. Yes I’ll admit that my artistic skills would never get me an exhibition at the Tate Modern and my dancing would definitely not get me to the finals of Strictly but I’d still give it a go! This column is one of my creative outlets and has definitely reignited my love of writing. That’s the thing with creativity – it never leaves you. No matter how long a break you may have, it feels like second nature to go back to it. Even discovering a new creative passion can jog reminiscent memories (maybe of a particular song or a time in your life) and it can definitely help create new ones too!
Metaphorically, the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) has creativity running through its veins. As a sector that has always provided innovative solutions to some of the biggest health and social issues in the UK, it’s no surprise to see the number of VCS organisations who utilise creativity to help improve local lives. The organisations featured in this month’s column are perfect examples of that creativity at work.
Purple Patch Arts
At Purple Patch Lifelong Learning Programmes, they use creative methods such as dance, drama, music, literature and art (pictured) as a way to make educational topics and themes exciting, engaging and accessible for adults with learning disabilities. Purple Patch Arts deliver sessions to suit a range of needs, using a multi-sensory approach to create an immersive experience which is lots of fun!
As well as promoting a love of creativity and learning, the Purple patch Lifelong Learning Programmes also help participants to improve their social skills, confidence and independence. Every year they pick a different theme – this year it is ‘Imagine’.
For more information about Purple Patch Arts, please visit the website www.purplepatcharts.org
Awakening Arts is a Calderdale-based community arts organisation that runs a weekly group for people with dementia and other age-related neurological issues. The group, called Be Here Now, runs every Tuesday at Hebden Bridge Town Hall from 2.30-4pm. At the group they sing songs, read poems, create music, art and poetry. They share their joys and, sometimes, their sorrows. It’s a very friendly welcoming group and no previous experience is required.
Awakening Arts is involved in a lot of exciting projects; they’ve worked with school children, had musicians come in from the Royal Northern College of Music to jam with them, created a poetry book and they hope to hold an exhibition of their wonderful paintings later in the year!
For more information about Awakening Arts, please call 07591157841.
Verd de gris
Verd de gris is a socially engaged arts company based in Hebden Bridge. They develop and deliver a range of creative projects with people from across the North of England, specifically health & wellbeing work and intercultural community projects.
The company has won a number of awards including a National Dementia Care Award in 2017 and the National Creative Learning Award in 2019.
Verd de gris’ aim is to engage with communities where the opportunity to participate in arts projects is low. They are keen to show how local people can use the arts to impact on a range of social issues, and how they can use creative expression to transform their lives and their communities.
For more information about verd de gris, please visit the website www.verddegris.org
Men’s Health Week is coming up on June 10th so the next Voluntary Action Calderdale column will feature some of the local organisations supporting local men.
Friendships are one of the best things in life. The opportunity to connect and form a strong bond with someone who was once a complete stranger is incredibly valuable.
Whatever life has thrown at me – good or bad – I have always been so grateful to have my friends right there with me. From my strong circle of schoolmates to the kindred souls I’ve picked up along the way, I know they can support me through anything. They are there when I need to talk. They are there when I need to laugh. They are there when I need to cry.
Sometimes as a result of what life throws at us, people can end up feeling socially isolated and disconnected to their peers and local community. Launched in March by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, ‘Looking out for our Neighbours’ (www.ourneighbours.org.uk) is a social movement that aims to prevent loneliness throughout West Yorkshire and Harrogate by encouraging people to do simple things to help out their neighbours.
Voluntary Action Calderdale is one of the many supporters of this campaign. To show our support, we wanted to highlight how friendly and welcoming the Calderdale voluntary and community sector is.
Social isolation does not discriminate; it can impact anyone, of any age, at any time. With that in mind, this month’s column featured organisations offering a diverse look at how Calderdale is challenging isolation across different social groups. are all completely different to one another to show the diverse range of services available.
Identity LGBTQ Youth Group
Identity LGBTQ Youth Group is run by Barnardo’s Positive Identities Service, Calderdale. The group meet every week in central Halifax and provide a safe, supportive space for young people to be themselves, have fun and make new friends.
The young people who attend Identity said:
“It can be tricky at school, I’m not out to everyone, my friends at group get it and I don’t feel different.”
“I didn’t have many friends before I came to the group, but now I’ve found my people!”
“When I first joined, they arranged for a buddy for me so I didn’t feel on my own. They helped me get to know the others.”
For more information, visit www.identitylgbtgroup.com
Tuesday 2 O’Clock Club
Recently celebrating its 1st Birthday, the Tuesday 2 O’Clock Club was set up to help tackle isolation and loneliness in older people in the local area. The club (based at Stones Cricket Club, Ripponden) runs fortnightly sessions on the first and third Tuesdays of the month and gives members of the community the opportunity to meet new people whilst enjoying a varied programme of entertainment. The club has also collaborated with other similar groups in the area to form the Ryburn Wellbeing Hub and have started to run monthly trips.
Follow the Tuesday 2 O’clock Club on Facebook.
The Phoenix Shed, Halifax
The ‘Men in Sheds’ movement aims to help reduce social isolation in older men and The Phoenix Shed is no different. Catering for men over the age of 55, The Phoenix Shed can ease them back into a social group who are both friendly and doing something for the community as well.
Based up at the Threeways Centre, Ovenden, The Phoenix Shed offers the opportunity to just pop in for a brew and a natter, or spend a whole day working on a project such as wood carving or bench making.
The Phoenix Shed team love a challenge and can make and repair many things, not least of all repairing men they can also help repair men.
For more information, please email email@example.com
Pennine Magpie offers a dynamic, fun and friendly learning environment, offering a wide variety of activities and opportunities for adults with learning disabilities including dance (the fabulous Magpie Movers!), arts and crafts, computing, cookery and much more.
Everything Pennine Magpie does is to meet students’ individual needs and to help them achieve their personal goals, make lifelong friendships and live a more independent and fulfilling life.
Students at Pennine Magpie said:
“I met honest and forever friends including my best friend.”
“I was lonely with no friends, now I have a boyfriend and friends I meet on weekends.”
“Magpie Movers are the best friends ever. I love to dance with my friends.”
For more information, visit www.penninemagpie.co.uk
Next month, our column will focus on the organisations improving local lives through creativity.
All of our members are improving local lives day in and day out. From the long established organisations to the brand new groups, they’ve all been set up to make life better for their service users and community. The voluntary and community sector (VCS) can whiz by at such a fast but exhilarating pace that we can forget to take five minutes peace for a cup of tea (milk, one sugar) let alone read through all the news and updates that ping into our inbox. We most definitely do not have the time to blow our own trumpets about the resilient and creative things we do to keep us delivering all the fantastic work.
It was because of this that we decided to set up our new Brew and a Blog; An inside glimpse into how other local organisations operate and tackle challenges all in the time it takes to sup a well earned brew. The thought behind this new members only feature was that we wished to compliment existing information bulletins by giving an insight into things you didn’t even know you wanted to read about! We want this to be the place where you find out that a hurdle that one organisation may have overcome could be pretty similar to a barrier you may be facing or that an organisation 5 miles away could offer the perfect partnership working solution.
So, pop the kettle on and take that five minutes now!
Community is about being part of something bigger than yourself. Community is about unity, it’s about support, but most importantly, it’s about people.
Growing up in Hebden Bridge, I have seen firsthand the power of community and the strength that a group of people can have when they come together to help each other. The community response after the bleak fortnight of floods in 2012 and the Boxing Day flooding in 2015 revealed a solidarity and kindness that captured the true meaning of community. Through my job at Voluntary Action Calderdale I meet some amazing local organisations and see the impact that being connected to your community can have on people’s lives.
Community is an easy theme to write about for this column. In Calderdale, there are so many community hubs that provide a friendly and welcoming environment which have been set up purely to support their local community.
Phoenix Radio FM 96.7
Phoenix Radio is an inclusive and accessible community radio station, broadcasting to Halifax and the communities of Calderdale. The station promotes community involvement and provides broadcasting, volunteering opportunities and training for local people, giving them skills and support needed to produce and present radio programmes. In September, 2017, Phoenix Radio won silver in the National Community Radio Awards for Best Community Project of the Year and in 2018 took silver in the Innovation category.
Tune into the Voluntary Action Calderdale show every Friday morning 9am – 12pm on Phoenix FM 96.7. Every week, we have guests on the show from local voluntary and community organisations who talk about their services, volunteering opportunities and events.
For more information or to listen live, visit www.phoenixfm.co.uk
The Cornholme and Portsmouth Old Library
The Cornholme and Portsmouth Old Library is a community building and cafe where everyone is welcome. Based in the centre of Cornholme, The Old Library runs regular weekly events including a Toddlers’ Group (pictured), Job Club and Pay What You Can lunches.
The community hub also offers free access to a bank of computers and during school holidays, provides an array of events such as Film Clubs, Family Supper and Quiz Nights!
For more information, visit www.oldlibrary.org.uk
Town Hall Foundation
Town Hall Foundation is the charitable department of Town Hall Dental and is their way of giving back to the community that has supported them through their journey.
The work of Town Hall Foundation equally funds four key projects:
- Teaching proper dental hygiene
- Teaching adults with disabilities correct dental hygiene
- Providing essential dental care to those in poverty
- Supporting the work of other local organisations
For more information, visit www.townhalldental.co.uk/town-hall-foundation/
Halifax Opportunities Trust & Staying Well
Staying Well is Halifax Opportunities Trust’s flagship project to tackle social isolation within central Halifax. The service supports people to engage in social activities and health services in the community. It makes a huge difference to those who take part, as Sylvia’s story illustrates:
After being diagnosed with early onset dementia, Sylvia found her confidence at a low and became too frightened to take part in her usual social activities. After a visit from a Staying Well worker it was clear that Sylvia’s fear of being in unfamiliar setting was a big barrier. Sylvia attended a group with the Staying Well worker supporting her and was delighted to find that she enjoyed it.
For more information, visit www.regen.org.uk
Focus4Hope is a community group based in Brighouse set up to make a difference in the local community. The members of Focus4Hope predominantly work with the local elderly and isolated/lonely individuals, local homeless and also those impacted by the refugee crisis. As well as outreach services for the homeless in Leeds, Focus4Hope regularly host events such as film nights for the isolated elderly of Calderdale and have been involved in the refugee crisis in Calais, travelling there recently to take supplies.
In April, the team, will be completing a charity skydive to raise money for a minibus. This bus will help them transport people more easily so that they can help the local community.
For more information, visit www.focus4hope.co.uk
Next month, our column will focus on friendship and the organisations helping people to build strong relationships with long lasting friends.
The recollection of a memory can be a powerful thing, particularly for those who live with dementia. Throughout Calderdale, voluntary and community organisations not only provide support and advice to those living with dementia, but offer an array of services that work to continuously spark their memories.
When I was 19, I travelled around Australia, armed only with my backpack and an iPod shuffle. Whenever I hear Crazy by Gnarls Barkley, I am transported back to a Sydney beach with a sandy BBQ and the obligatory paddle in the sea. A walk down memory lane can be an incredibly emotive feeling and one that can be harder and harder to do for people who have dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Working at Voluntary Action Calderdale, I have insider knowledge on the fantastic organisations supporting people with dementia and in this month’s column I have the pleasure of introducing them to you!
The Arch-Way Project
The Arch-Way Project run a free weekly event called Past Times (pictured). The event is held at Arden Road Social Club and although it’s aimed at those living with or at risk from dementia, it is open to all.
Past Times is a night out (but on a Monday afternoon!). Every week, a live musician performs all your favourite hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Doors open at 1.30pm and start with a quiz designed to trigger memories, plusof course, a couple of games of bingo!
To find out more, please call 01422 251613.
Young Onset Dementia & Alzheimer’s (YODA)
YODA is a Calderdale based support group for those diagnosed with dementia under the age of 65. Any diagnosis of dementia is devastating, but when received at a younger age, the personal circumstances can be very different from those faced in later years.
YODA meets every Friday 2.00pm – 4pm in Halifax and offers a valuable lifeline for both those diagnosed and their carers. As well as offering signposting support to practical help, YODA embraces the positive attitudes and sense of humour that allow us to live positively with dementia.
To find out more please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Memory Lane Cafe
Memory Lane Cafe Calderdale is a local charity which provides support for people affected by dementia, other memory problems and isolation. They run regular pop-up cafes in Sowerby Bridge (2nd & 4th Saturday of the month at 1.30pm) and Halifax (1st & 3rd Wednesday at 2.00pm).
The cafes offer a varied programme of games, crafts, information, live music, conversation and cake!
To find out more, please call 01422 706373 or visit www.memorylanecafe.org.
‘Time to Think’ is a new service at Overgate Hospice specifically for people with dementia to attend with their carers. Time to Think offers a holistic approach to individual needs, focusing on person-centred care and support for people living with dementia. The programme provides a safe, friendly environment where people with dementia can attend, with their carers, and gain access to advice, information and support from a dedicated team of staff and volunteers. The programme also includes music as therapy and relaxation alongside activities throughout each session.
To access this service, please speak to your GP or Healthcare professional about making a referral on your behalf.
Next month’s column will be looking at the local organisations that have their community at the centre of everything they do.