Arts from the Armchair’ memory loss project nominated for prestigious award
A theatre initiative for people with early onset memory loss has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.
The ‘Arts from the Armchair’ programme has been nominated for an Arts and Business Cymru Award in the Arts, Business and Health category.
The group meets weekly at Theatr Clwyd, with professional theatre producer Hester Evans-Ford, and offers a range of arts-based workshop activities.
Each week the participants engage with different areas of the theatre and stagecraft. Actors, musicians, costume makers, lighting and sound technicians, scene painters and other theatre professionals join the group to share new experiences and encourage involvement with the live performance process.
Carer, Glyn Hollywell from Mold hailed the programme as ‘a beacon’ in his life with his wife who suffers from memory loss.
He said: “We are all routing for the project to win the award because it’s a beacon in our lives. It is something all the group members look forward to and it offers us some stability and gives us shape to our week.
“My wife loves coming here and so do I. Everybody enjoys it and it exercises the brain.
“The social aspect is so important because it’s so easy to become disconnected from society, you lose confidence, but here you gain confidence.
“When people attend the sessions they come out of themselves and it’s beautiful to see. My wife thinks the world of it.”
‘Arts from the Armchair’ is a partnership collaboration between Theatr Clwyd, the Mold Community Hospital team and BCUHB Flintshire Community Mental Health and Learning Disability Service’s Memory Clinic.
Sister Angie Parker, Mold Community Hospital commented: “’Arts from the Armchair’ enables those who join the group to express themselves more freely whilst fostering stronger self-belief.
“It provides practical and emotional support to make the participants feel alive, meet new friends and progress in a stimulating environment with professional support.”
The group encourages those with early onset memory loss and their carers to overcome the challenges of communication by taking part in stimulating activities and encouraging social interaction in a supported, creative way.
Group leader, Hester Evans-Ford said: “I think the project gives a massive sense of community and support to participants and carers. They are often trying something brand new like dancing or mask making.
“It’s new for both carer and participant so neither of them are better at than the other, meaning they learn new things about each other and they learn together.
“The participants lack the ability to communicate and the workshops encourages them to communicate and talk”.
‘Arts from the Armchair’ is coordinated by the Health Board’s Creative Well programme in partnership with Theatr Clwyd and is made possible by funding from Arts Council of Wales.
Liz Aylett, BCUHB Strategic Lead for Arts in Health & Wellbeing Programme, commented: “As an example of our project work, this is a very exciting partnership with Theatr Clwyd.
“It gives people with early and progressive memory loss a positive experience within their local community and encourages people to understand how a dementia friendly environment can be created.
“It is an innovative example of supporting patients nearer their home, contributing toward the health board’s developing primary care model.”
Tamara Harvey, Theatr Clwyd’s Artistic Director, said: “In a recent session, one of our group members played Miss Prism in a scene with our actors from The Importance of Being Earnest.
“Afterwards she said that it was the best day of her life. And the actor playing Reverend Chasuble told me it was one of the most moving experiences they’d ever had on stage.
“This is just one example of many. We are all incredibly proud of Arts from the Armchair.
“The vision of the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board in commissioning and supporting the project makes a significant positive difference to the lives of an often unseen group within our community.
“And this nomination is an important recognition of the impact the arts can have in improving health and wellbeing in all corners of our society.”
Representatives from the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Theatr Clwyd will be attending the award ceremony at the Wales Millennium Centre on June 23. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com