Looking Forward Pick Up The Cup At Mill Green

Self referral dementia group ‘Looking Forward’ attended their first fine art classes at Mill Green (Mill Green School provides a quality education for learners aged 9 – 19 with severe, complex, profound and multiple learning difficulties including Autistic Spectrum Disorders).

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‘I left school not being able to read nor write but I could do art, funny that isn’t it?’ – John, Looking Forward.

On Friday they worked with teachers and students to produce a series of artistic personalised mugs. Looking forward are a group who have identified the early onset of dementia and have formed the group to use activities, such as culture, to help curtail their condition. The Cultural Coordinator approached the fantastic arts officer at Mill Green, Amanda, to hold workshops for this community group in the school where the amenities and staff are second to none.

‘I had 150 staff under me, and I was bloody organised, not like now’ – Rita, looking Forward

On arrival the group were offered a cup of tea and both John and Rita divulged their life stories to the group of John being a shop steward and Rita as a home care manager. The group were then joined by 2 members of staff and 2 students , Alan and Melissa. Amanda led the group by showing them a mug she’d made earlier (Blue Peter comes to mind here) which enthused the group into starting the project immediately. Using special paints, paper, brushes and imaginations designs were created on the paper.

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‘I think mine’s the best don’t you?, I never thought i had something like this inside me’ – Dave, ex-miner, Looking Forward.

Next step was the finished paper to be wrapped around the mug which was then placed in a press, heated up and then the paper peeled back slowly to reveal intergenerational artistic creations (pictured). A great afternoon was had by all, new acquaintances were made and a greater understanding of generations with differing conditions was formed.

‘ This maybe an understatement but I think everyone’s enjoyed it don’t you?’ – Amanda, arts officer.Image


Bringing Back Clubland To Dementia Sufferers

evaluation photos 001The Mansion House in St Helens was the venue once again for the newly developed ‘Bring Back Clubland’ project. 70 sufferers and carers turned up at the event where music from yesteryear brings back 5 minutes at a time of normality to people with dementia. An unfortunate late start due to technical difficulties with the equipment did not dampen spirits and when Britain’s Got Talent  finalist Rick Ashcroft got up he wowed the crowd with ‘Knock Three Times’ and other great songs.  Ricks mum Nita, was next up. Nita who’s rendition of the tear jerking ‘Pal Of My Cradle Days’ had the audience crying, singing and clapping in equal quantities.  Then Chris Birkett (the sound of Bubble’) was next, once again this silky voiced ‘crooner’ had the crowd dancing to his ‘Rat Pack’ renditions including ‘Mac The Knife’. Organizer Gary Conley then thrilled the crowd with his guitar including Beatles classics with finally Tommy Frodsevaluation photos 002ham and his hits of the 60’s left the crowd wanting more and asking ‘Whens the next’? Thanks again to Mel Cottington for her excellent Compare, music, bingo and singing duties. On the day we did a feedback analysis of the day. Here are the results and comments:

·         Overall people were very happy with the planning of the sessions.

·         Everyone said they were very happy with  the  the acts and the venue.

·         out of 50 people surveyed  50% were very happy, 45% happy,  and 5% thought they had received the information about  the event to late.

·         97%  thought the karaoke session were very relevant  to them with 3% thought it was reasonably relevant.

We asked is there anything else we could do different?

·         Some said they would like the session to start on time , it advertised to start at 2pm so would expect it to start then not at 2.30!

·         One carer said have equipment and sound check done prior to them arriving as this leads to their clients becoming agitated.

·         Mrs P said ‘Cant think of anything you need to do because it is already great’.

·         Pat said “Keep doing what you are doing , let more people know information”

·         John commented “Just love the afternoon”

Break Free at Central Library

An artistic performance facilitated by Collective Encounters – a Liverpool-based professional arts organisation – and St Helens Council, has given a group affected by issues surrounding mental health the chance to air those issues via a live production.

Break Free was performed to a full house at Central Library by the group, which goes under the name of Another Way of Telling.

Break Free was a collaborative performance created over three months and funded by the Arts Council. The performance explored issues of mental illness and the strive for well-being and sought to end the stigma of mental health.

In three parts – Break Down, Break Through and Break Out – the performance  featured poetry, prose, live music, singing and performance.

Nigel Webster, a St Helens poet who took part in the performance said: “The six months we have spent as a team putting the production together has flown by. I got a great deal from the process: I learned how to work as a team member and how to manage my emotions. I also learnt how to be a better me,” explained Nigel, himself a member of the St Helens Mind group.

Aidan Jolly, director of Collective Encounters explained how the group had never performed before: “This really was a leap of faith. We met twice a week and held workshops which covered artistic movement and performance. We looked at writing collectively as well as producing individual pieces of work all of which came together in the final production.”

The performance had an amazing impact on audience members with some moved to tears.