For the last few months Gillian, our art for well-being therapist, has been running textile and embroidery sessions with clients from Freedom from Torture. This has been to produce work to commemorate the 10th anniversary of West Midlands Freedom from Torture.
Throughout the thoughtful and reflective sessions, themes of inner transition emerged around identity and belonging. There was a strong sense of celebration, appreciation and gratitude within the group and the aesthetics certainly had underlying links to finding peace within conflict, nature connection, difference, diversity and inclusion, as well as spirituality/connections with faith.
Here are are some testimonies from Freedom from Torture staff who were also present during the sessions:
“The power and richness of the workshops, because of the knowledge you hold as an artist, was great to see and experience. Your skills, thought and preparation really came across and as a result fifteen of our service users engaged in the project within this short time – which is just amazing!”
“Your interaction with familiar faces from previous groups and other service users who were new to yourself and the centre was welcoming and warm in such a way that they knew they were in a safe place, and were able to experiment with new and old modes of expression. In addition, your confidence in the efficacy of complementary approaches made the project so successful”.
“I note that there were clients who participated in the group who, in individual sessions, have struggled to overcome avoidance in terms of their image making. The workshop setting that you created offered them a quiet and confidential space to be absorbed in the process in the presence of others, with the making facilitating self-regulation and increasing self-esteem. This shows how arts activity makes a difference, which will no doubt pave the way for ongoing social and well-being participation with a gained sense of possibility”.
“I thought that you gave just the right amount of direction, and the right amount of choice to stimulate interest. I would guess that all (me included) were introduced to a new skill/technique”.
Spring to Life has re-commenced it’s well-being programme with Freedom from Torture titled ‘Freedom to Create’, starting with a a textiles workshop. There will be five textiles sessions creating work to celebrate Freedom From Torture West Midland’s 10th Anniversary.
For the first session participants were engaged and produced very sensitive work. They painted and printed fabric that will be used to create textile pieces in future sessions.
During the Autumn of 2018 Gillian Lever (Art for Wellbeing Practitioner) and Wai-Ling Bickerton (Chartered and Health Professional Council registered Clinical Psychologist) co-facilitated a series of ‘Art for Wellbeing’ group sessions for Younger Adults at Birmingham Jesus Centre, 66 Gooch Street North, Highgate B5 6QU.
The session model was built on the Spring to Life pilot project which took place at BJC from April to June 2018 which included a community engagement day and an ‘Art for Wellbeing’ group for Women and Children.
Our vision was to offer structured group support with collaborative intervention by an Art for Wellbeing practitioner and Clinical Psychologist. The aims of the group were to improve psychological wellbeing, to increase individual group member’s social confidence and to enable verbal and non-verbal self-expression through participation in creative activities and conversation in a safe and therapeutic environment. The group facilitated individuals with diverse social and cultural backgrounds, and with different languages, to share and enjoy a time of creativity, reflection and mindful actions, even when many of them were going through highly challenging times in their lives. Within a few sessions, we witnessed the development of increased confidence expressed through their artwork, and their interactions with the group.
We were encouraged by the overwhelming positive feedback, and have learnt valuable insights into the needs and presentation of the clientele served by the BJC. We aim to run more sessions for Younger Adults in 2019. (The Young Adults we were worked with were18-25 years old, registered with a Birmingham GP and eligible for Forward Thinking Birmingham low intensity psychological therapy service, based on the initial screening assessment). Gillian Lever and Wai-Ling Bickerton January 2019.
Funded by Cars Area Together we delivered our first well-being programme at Auckland Hall, Cars Area, located in Smithswood. On Wednesday afternoons we ran regular mindfulness sessions, while on Saturday mornings we ran a mix of Creative therapies. This included Art, African drumming, Reading for Well-being, Dance and Movement therapy, as well as a session on Stress and anxiety management – leading up to Christmas!
The process of promoting the programme in the local community has in itself proved highly beneficial, as we created good connections with people and groups in the area.
Here are a few comments by people who took part in the programme:
“In such a short period of time, I have found myself able to recognize the healing value and benefits of connection, especially with like-minded people. For the 1st time in years, I can see a positive future for myself, full of possibilities”.
“I have learnt a lot from each session facilitator and have enjoyed all my interactions with them, and have learned a lot about myself. I have also made contacts with other attendees outside of the sessions, which is great!”.
From a regular participant of our mindfulness sessions: “Make some time for you, this will be an hour well spent. You can leave calm, relaxed and refreshed – all you need to do is sit and breathe”.
We are very pleased to announced that due to the reception to this initial programme, our funding has been extended for the new year next September 2019. Because of the lower attendance on the Saturday sessions, both Mindfulness and the Creative therapies will be on weekdays. On the next stage of the Creative therapies programme, each month will be dedicated to a single therapy running over a few weeks. Details of these to be confirmed.