WAKEFIELD ARTS CHARITY HAS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION TO CONTINUE CREATIVELY SUPPORTING ADULTS WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES DURING PANDEMIC - NEWS Press Release
A Wakefield-based creative arts charity has managed to connect more people, through their artistic approach to continue helping adults with learning difficulties through arts, dance, media, digital and life skills.
CoActive Arts has totally transformed to continue helping adults with learning difficulties, after fearing that the people they supported would be isolated. As each individual they work with has different needs, talents and interests, the team of artists have worked closely with group participants, carers and support services to be able to continue to provide weekly sessions and support by adopting a multi-platform approach. From weekly hand-crafted DVDs created at home by the artists who normally deliver in-person art, dance and drama sessions, CoActive continue deliver sessions in a new interactive way, as well as live videos online, group chats online, phone calls, Zoom sessions and hand delivering activities for people to continue enjoying sessions at home.
Co-founder of CoActive Jody Gabriel, said:
"We were really concerned that our member's mental and physical health would deteriorate under isolation. We knew many who have learned to cope by adopting routines and having familiar places to meet and get what they need, and that such a massive change would cause big problems. Many do not have an internet connection, IT equipment or the skills to use it, and so isolation would be especially harsh. We knew we had to use our experience as artists and as a charity to adapt activities like never before to keep people connected and engaged in something positive whilst at home.
We committed to creating a magazine style programme of activities on DVD every week. The weekly deliveries contain activity resources for Art including acrylic paint, glue, A3 cartridge paper and hand-made craft resources. We hope the DVD format will help in creating meaningful activity and a structured day. Unlike mainstream TV, we have a personal relationship with people and include contributions from members on the DVD to help us feel connected. Gemma is leading story creation sessions on a live facebook slot for those that use social media, and Mel has led on connecting through Zoom, and more recently facilitating distanced one to one outdoor meet ups between group members. This is leading us to adapt again as hopes grow of the lockdown coming to end, yet the virus remains.
While making one DVD delivery I was able to go out on the grass with one member. We both had masks on and remained over two metres apart. We talked and rehearsed a little dance session, using elements that we were both used to from regular sessions. We went through a warm up and created some very basic movements to develop. I was struck by the deterioration in this person's concentration and range of movement. Clearly the lockdown is taking its toll both physically and mentally. It's a mixed picture though, and our interactions are making a big difference for people. Members really look forward to when the DVDs arrive and far from being just a source of entertainment or connection I am seeing people develop artistically in their use of acrylic paint. We are even issuing certificates to celebrate achievements and solid learning criteria being met.
Julie Crossfield, who is the mother of one of CoActive’s members, said...
At CoActive we have a great team of freelance Community Artists who are able to adapt and bring a range of skills to the situation. We are all really grateful for our funders who have all been quick and proactive to respond to the changing needs. We have received an extra grant from NOVA's Coronavirus VCS Resilience Fund (from Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group of the NHS). We have worked with our existing funders; Creative Minds, NOVA's 'Live Well Wakefield,' and The People's Health Trust who have formed the backbone of our funding over the last 2 years, and have committed to support us for a further 2 years.
For more information, go to: coactive.org.uk and CoActive are also on facebook, instagram, twitter and youtube.