At Adult Education Wolverhampton we acknowledge the power of taking part in the arts and in group activities to improve health and well-being. "Like Minds" classes are ideal for anyone recovering from stress, anxiety or mild depression. Students need a referral from their GP, Nurse or Healthcare Professional. In the sessions students learn new skills, focus, build renewed self-esteem and interact in a safe environment…a place for them to gain the confidence to move on.
The Like minds Art and Craft group have worked on many different projects since the beginning of term including paper bead bracelets, weaving coaster mats and the latest one is to create a fabric memorial poppy. During the session students have learnt many new creative techniques.
With the support of the teacher the students themselves discuss, share ideas and decide on the projects that they do each week.
Since attending these sessions students have gained the confidence to expand their independence and are venturing into other activities in the community. Their confidence and self-esteem has grown as they socialise in and out of class helping to combat their isolation.
Sophie, a very shy individual has recently joined a small drama group and has taken on the role of directing a private play…A massive step in her progression.
Kate who first came to us after a life illness has progressed so far that she is now talking about volunteering and is interested in working with other like minds groups.
The majority of students who attend the Like Minds art group at West park Hospital are unable to return to their previous job due to their stroke, M.S., brain injury or other neurological condition. A large proportion of students have lost self- confidence and their ability to conduct day to day activities of daily living has been impaired due to coping with the physical, cognitive and emotional effect of their health condition.
Each person will have their own goals to either return to work or to look at providing a structure to their week if they are unable to return to work at the present time.
The group provides a safe environment for people to increase their confidence talking to others who are in similar circumstances. By attending the art group they can increase their tolerance of activities and being around other people. They are able to assess how fatigued they are after a group activity which indicates when they would be ready to consider returning to work and they can assess how they cope with poor memory, decreased concentration in a group setting whilst attaining new skills.
The group has been a stepping stone back into employment. One student is due to start a new job following attendance of the art group. Others report an increase in their skills and become more aware of their capabilities. This has then given them the confidence to consider starting to look at returning to work knowing how their on-going symptoms would impact their work performance.
It is a valuable part of their rehabilitation and helps to reduce social isolation whilst assisting them to acquire new skills. The group are supportive, accepting and understanding of each other's needs. They often feel they are a burden to their family or friends always moaning about their health condition. The group is an outlet to discuss these emotions.
Karen a hairdresser by trade said, "Before being diagnosed with a brain tumour I had three jobs, a very busy life and lots of confidence. Life as I knew it would never be the same. My condition had taken away my sense of purpose but coming to class is re-building that. Creating and painting is helping me to cope and relax, it takes me away from my problems and helps to me to get the most from the things I do and achieve, large and small. This is helping me to rebuild my new life, right now.
After suffering a stroke Irene found it difficult to multi task and work in a noisey atmosphere. The art group has given her the confidence to have a job assessment, something she said she would never have been able to do 6 months ago.
Generally, everyone in class is benefiting from working in an atmosphere where they feel safe, not judged and in a supportive environment with individuals who understand their pace and needs. One student said, "We need to keep groups like this going, it's about the little things that make a difference, building our lives back brick by brick. Art is an achievement, it helps me to prove to myself that I can do things and that I am 'normal'."
Most of the individuals started the group with little of no confidence, but today each member has moved one step further in their road to rebuilding their lives.