Thursday, 15 August 2019

Together for Mental Health consultation - a Powys view

Individual rep, Sarah Dale, on Llandudno beach

Our Participation Officer, Owen Griffkin, shares a report on the Welsh Government 
Consultation for the ‘Together for Mental Health’ Delivery Plan 2019 - 2022

On a sunny day (with scattered showers) I attended the consultation event for the Together for Mental Health plan 2019-2022. I was there to accompany one of our individual representatives, Sarah Dale, who felt it is was important for Powys to have a voice in one of the live consultations. This all day event was in a beautiful location in Llandudno, Venue Cymru, with a lovely sea view, which almost made the 150 mile round trip worth it.

Together for Mental Health is the Welsh Government's 10 year cross governmental strategy and was published in 2012. This consultation is to inform the last 3 years of the plan and to look at the priorities that have been identified and how they will be implemented.

The day was chaired by Ainsley Bladon, the Mental Health Strategy Lead at the Welsh Government, who is regularly seen at both regional and national partnership events. She introduced the delivery plan with a short presentation and then we moved on to the first question for discussion.

This was looking at the key priorities for the next 3 years and there were a lot of themes arising that we have come across in other engagement events. Some of these included - transition from Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to adult services, accessing mental health services with substance misuse issues, difference in service depending on location and funding of third sector (voluntary) organisations.

Also a big point raised was the accessibility of legislation and documents to the ordinary person. There is a lot of jargon and acronyms in the consultation document and this has proved a barrier to some people in disseminating the information. Ainsley said they had heard this a lot and they will look to change this in the future.

Sarah was very vocal about the need to ensure that basic service provision is met in Powys and that locally this is a priority - eg 24 hours crisis care. She also spoke passionately about the Talk to Me 2 suicide and self-harm plan, saying that it didn’t have enough mention of self-harm.

Next we were asked if the cross-cutting workstreams were appropriate to prioritise, which once again prompted some explanation requests about the technical language of the document.

These priority areas can be seen in this photo:

We were able to share some of the findings of the recent care and treatment plan engagement events held by Powys Teaching Health Board in Powys as this is linked to the ‘Core data set’ requirement, and also highlighted some of the specific issues in Powys around engagement.

After lunch, and a very quick stroll along the prom, we returned to look at what the room thought the key impacts would be and how we can increase positive effects whilst mitigating negative effects. The importance of third sector organisations was highlighted again, and a few people spoke about the relationship between staff and service users and the importance of being listened to in that relationship. 

We then ended with a reflective exercise on the effectiveness of the day and an assurance that results of the consultation will be fed back to everyone who attended. We closed with a thank you speech from Tracey Breheny, the fairly-new Deputy Director of Mental Health. It was interesting to hear that she is also responsible for Substance Misuse and Vulnerable Groups which hopefully augurs well for more coordination and understanding of the co-occurring issues of substance misuse and mental health. She also came out with the quote of the day when she said that all the comments would be ‘fed into the sausage machine of the Welsh Government’ and processed into a report.

All in all the day was definitely worth our while going although it is a shame that there isn’t an event closer to Mid Wales. It is vital that Powys has its voice heard in this consultation as we have a lot of issues specific to our county and I therefore urge anybody with an interest in the delivery plan for Mental Health services to fill in the online consultation before August 30th. You can participate by visiting the link on the following webpages:



There is also another consultation event in Carmarthen on the 28th August that I recommend attending if you have the time.

Room TL5 (Ground Floor), Teaching and Learning Building, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Campus, SA31 3EP.

The day will be structured as follows:

Morning 10:00 – 12:30 – Discussion of Priority Areas
Lunch 12:30 - 1:30
Afternoon 1.30 – 4.00pm – Considering Impact and Delivery

To take part please RSVP to Darren Lewis ( including the following details:

Name, organisation (if relevant) and e
vent you wish to attend (West Wales in this case). Expenses and lunch are provided on the day. 

If you fill in the consultation, or attend the Carmarthen event, please let us know at PAVO. You can email or ring 01597 822191. We might be able to help you organise lift shares and put you in touch with others attending.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Powys Dementia Network - Summer 2019

by Jen Hawkins & Jackie Newey
Health & Wellbeing / Mental Health Information Officers

On Wednesday 17 July we attended the latest Powys Dementia Network event at the Football Club in Newtown. It was organised by our colleague Sue Newham, Engagement Officer in the team, and attended by a huge variety of organisations and individuals. These included Dementia Matters in Powys, Alzheimer’s Society Cymru, Powys Libraries, Hafren School children, Powys Teaching Health Board and people living with dementia to name but a few.

As always we will try to capture some of the spirit and information from the day below, but if you would like to find out more and / or attend future events then please get in touch - further details at the end of the post.

The last Network event in Brecon in February this year was also captured for the blog in Powys Dementia Network event - Housing.

Alzheimer’s Society & Dementia Connect - Kerry Phelps, Alzheimer’s Society Cymru

Kerry Phelps opened her presentation with some thought provoking statistics about dementia, stating that 1 million people live with dementia in 2021, a figure that is expected to rise to 2 million by 2050. The Alzheimer's Society celebrate their 40th birthday this year and in that time have learned a lot about how best to support people living with dementia.

In 2017 the society rolled out their “New Deal Dementia Strategy,” with their mission being to “transform the landscape of dementia forever.” The strategy comprises three pillars, a new deal on support, a new deal on society, (focusing on changing conversations around dementia) and a new deal on research, with the biggest investment in research to date. By 2022 they aim to “reach out to everyone from the time of diagnosis to offer help and deliver a universally accessible support and advice service.”

Dementia Connect is their gold star service through which the new deal dementia strategy is being rolled out. At present it supports 1 in 10 people with the aim to eventually be able to support 7 in 10 people. The central ethos of the strategy is focused on person centred support, planning to empower people to take control of their care.

Andrew Jones & Agnes McDonald of Powys Libraries Service

Brecon Library: Introducing the RemPod & the Past-Times Picnic Hampers - Andrew Jones, Powys County Council

Read & Remember is a new Powys Libraries initiative drawing on the value and the power of a shared oral experience - it’s all about sharing reading aloud creating nostalgic connections and sharing experience. Originally it was set up as an all-community activity, but as they worked with it library staff found that people from the dementia community were the most engaged. As a result staff built in extra resources and so the Past-Times picnic hampers were created filled with nostalgic items to trigger memories.

The hampers are themed - people can choose from the Seaside, Transport, Animals, Gardening and Wildlife. Each hamper is full of nostalgic items which twig off memories from people’s past. The hampers can be used at events and have already proved successful at a number of care homes. They work well with relevant reading material. There is no cost involved and hampers can be reserved and transported between libraries in the county with advance notice, with one member of staff in the north of Powys and one in the south to transport them. 

The hampers were followed by the RemPods - amazing pop-up banners featuring large scale photographs of relevant scenes. On the day we enjoyed taking selfies in front of the Seaside RemPod - the only things missing were the actual ice creams! Other RemPods feature a shop and a 60s/70s living room and they work really well engaging people in initial conversation. Andrew said “it’s such fun watching how people open up and chat.”

Powys Library Service is keen to work with care homes, local clubs and societies to broaden the audience and give people who would not usually consider reading aloud some confidence.

Another top tip passed on by Andrew and Agnes is the carer's library card. Anyone who cares for someone with dementia in a personal or professional capacity, family members and friends of people living with dementia, are all eligible for a carer's card. This allows you to take out up to 20 books at a time with no library fines or fees incurred.

Frances Isaacs (who spoke about living with dementia) and Deborah Gerrard, Dementia Matters in Powys

Planning a Dementia Meeting Centre in Newtown - Deborah Gerrard, Dementia Matters in Powys

Deborah, the new Chief Officer at Dementia Matters in Powys, gave an update on plans for a dementia meeting centre in Newtown. The first Meeting Centre in the county opened in March 2017 in Brecon. The National Lottery Community Fund has now funded two further centres in Llandrindod and Ystradgynlais. Newtown will be No 4.

Dementia meeting centres are staffed by community development officers, facilitators and volunteers.They offer support, advice and information to people living with dementia and their carers. In the Netherlands, where the first centres were created in the late 1990s following research, there are now over 140 centres supporting 2000 people every day. Soon there will be 10 in the UK, and of these 4 will be in Powys which is an amazing development for the county.

Members find that attending the centres means that they can live in their own homes for longer and experience an increase in self esteem and feelings of belonging with a reduction in feelings of isolation, fear and anxiety. The Newtown centre is a partnership project between DMiP and Dementia Friendly Newtown. An Initiative Group has been set up to look at locations for the centre, volunteer recruitment and responding to the needs of local people living with dementia. The planned open day for the centre is Tuesday 1 October 2019 and if anyone is interested in getting involved in the meantime they should contact DMiP by emailing or call 01597 821166. Developments can also be followed on social media by connecting via Facebook or following via Twitter.

Hafren School Intergenerational Project - Children from Hafren School

Children from Hafren Junior school came along to share their intergenerational singing project with us. Three hundred staff and pupils at the school are trained as dementia friends, with two members of staff qualified dementia champions. Pupils from the school are actively involved with Newtown’s dementia community and can be regularly found at Newtown Library on Friday afternoons and Plas Cae Crwn on Tuesday afternoons. 

Carl Hyde, headteacher of the school, extended an open invitation to attend one of their sessions claiming that the “two most memorable afternoons of his 21 year teaching career,” were as a result of attending the intergenerational afternoons. Take a look at our video of the pupils on our Dementia Network day or pop down to one of the afternoons to experience the project first hand.

Frances (left) and Glenda (right) who spoke about living with dementia
Middle - Anna Story of Bangor University

“In it Together, Dementia Voices in Mid & North Wales” - Anna Story, Frances Isaacs & Glenda Roberts

Anna Story of Bangor University was funded by a Dementia Innovations Working Together Grant to work with Dementia Matters in Powys and DEEP* to make a short film capturing the voices of people with dementia in Mid & North Wales. Anna introduced the film premiere with two of the participants - Frances and Glenda - both of whom live with dementia. They said “we enjoyed making the film - Anna is so easy to talk to. We had great fun.”

To capture footage for the film Anna visited different dementia groups across the area where people meet to have fun, laugh and support each other.

The film is aimed at three audiences - people living with dementia, the general public (showing that people with dementia can have fun), and care professionals where it can be used for training purposes. Watch the film in 
English or Welsh 

*DEEP stands for the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project – it is the UK network of dementia voices. DEEP consists of around 100 groups of people with dementia – groups that want to influence services and policies.

Eira Meyer (Advanced Care Planning Champion at Newtown Hospital)
and Heather Wenban, (Dementia Lead, Powys Teaching Health Board)

My Life, My Wishes - Heather Wenban, Dementia Lead, Powys Teaching Health Board 

Heather Wenban lead an informative and interesting session about advance care planning highlighting the fact that decisions we make about the end of our lives are just as important as how we choose to live our lives.

To find out more about this important initiative please see our earlier Health & Wellbeing Blog from June this year, “My Life My Wishes - Live Well Dying Matters,”

Community Transport in Powys - Sarah Leyland Morgan, Powys County Council

Sarah opened her presentation with a useful definition of community transport stating that “community transport is there to underpin the transport network where it doesn’t adequately meet people’s needs.” Community transport is not a free service and is designed to support people, helping them to participate in their normal day-to-day activities in areas such as education and training, employment, health appointments and shopping.

Community transport is designed to feed in to the public transport network with three types of provision in Powys:


Ten Dial-a-Ride schemes operate in Powys provided by mini buses and MPV accessible vehicles (Multi Purpose Vehicle). Dial-a-Ride provides a door to door service, usually within a 10 mile radius where users are not able to use their concessionary passes. Membership schemes are usually available.

Community Car Schemes

These make use of of volunteers' cars with the travel costs being reimbursed. Not all community car schemes are membership based with trips often being to the hospital or longer, out of county journeys. 

Taxi Card Schemes

Currently there are two taxi card schemes operating in Powys. People in Montgomeryshire are supported with tokens of between £50-£100. The main issue with the schemes is a lack of taxi services in the area. Membership schemes are usually available where the service operates and often can be used within a ten mile radius.

Group Hire

Some third sector organisations offer group vehicle hire services, some offer a driver, with others you have to provide your own.

Powys Community Transport can support groups and communities in many ways. In the year 2018-2019 community transport has assisted people to make 5,778 trips to community hospitals and approximately 30,000 social and pleasure trips, to give just two examples.

Our next Dementia Network day is provisionally planned for Wednesday 17 January 2019 in Llandrindod Wells. Sign up to the Powys Dementia Network and find out about future Awareness Days by emailing or ringing 01597 822191.

Monday, 5 August 2019

The latest on SilverCloud - online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Becka Williams, Project Manager and Catrin Guest, Project Support Office & Online CBT Coordinator
by guest author Becka Williams
Project Manager, Powys Teaching Health Board

Following the implementation of our Online CBT service, SilverCloud, across Powys in May 2018, there has been a lot of work undertaken to develop the service and upscale it across Powys. 

We have received approximately 1100 referrals into the stand-alone service with referrals beings received from a range of different departments, services and healthcare professionals across the Health Board.

Work has commenced on the translation of the main Space from Anxiety and Depression programme and it is hoped that this will be ready for implementation by the end of 2019.

We were fortunate to win the Powys Teaching Health Board's Staff Excellence Award under the category of ‘Digital First’ in July which is a fantastic achievement. 

Becka Williams  Project Manager, Claire Cartwright – Director Ponthafren Association,
Jackie Jones & Sarah Dowler – Blended Online CBT Practitioners, Ponthafren

Blended Online CBT Service

We have implemented our Blended Online CBT service in partnership with Ponthafren Association in North Powys and the Mind Resource Centres in Mid and South Powys. The blended service offers access to the online platform as well as 6 face to face sessions with our Blended Online CBT Practitioners, during which they will review progress of the platform, signpost certain activities, tools and modules within the programmes and offer encouragement and support. The face to face sessions will be offered from the GP practices in Powys.

We are now ‘live’ with this service across nearly all GP practices, and where we have been unable to offer this from the specific practice, an alternative can be offered for the service users in that area should they wish to access this service.

Clinical referrals are required in to the blended service and these can currently be done through GPs of the Local Primary Mental Health Support Services (LPMHSS) within Powys Teaching Health Board.

We have currently received approximately 190 referrals into this service and are continuing to engage with the GPs and clinical teams to further upscale the blended approach.

Becka Williams, Project Manager & Catrin Guest, Project Support Office & Online CBT Coordinator raising awareness of Positive Body Image with PTHB's Occupational Health & Mental Health department during Mental Health Awareness Week

Positive Body Image

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, with ‘body image’ being the topic for 2019, we implemented our Space for Positive Body Image programme, which is now available for our healthcare professionals to refer in to.

This programme looks at the following topics:

  • Improves understanding of body image and the impact on depression and anxiety.
  • Focuses on what factors influence body image and how to improve perceptions of body image. 
  • Introduces the known risk factors of eating disorders.
  • Improves understanding of the effect of the media on understanding of the “ideal body”.
  • Encourages reduction of individuals thin-ideal internalisation through analysis of media messages.
  • Introduces self-esteem and focuses on where it comes from and how to boost it.
  • Introduces the reciprocal relationship between how we feel and how we eat, using the CBT model of Thoughts Feelings Behaviours (TFB) cycle.
  • Recognises emotional eating, mindful eating and how to have a healthy relationship with food.
  • Recognises negative automatic thoughts and how to challenge them.
  • Introduction to Mindfulness.
  • Self-esteem enhancement through activities.
  • Recognises the importance of social support in staying well.


We have designed, developed and recently implemented a self-referral option to this service. This service is available for all Powys residents and Powys patients that would like to self-refer onto an Online CBT Programme for depression, anxiety or stress. This service aims to offer services to those experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress who want access to an effective Online CBT therapy without having to first have an appointment with their local GP or other health professional.

People will be required to undertake an initial self-assessment and on successful completion of the self-assessment, immediate access to the online programme will be given. However, if the self-assessment results are not within the appropriate threshold for this service, a clinician from the PTHB Online CBT team will contact the person in due course for a follow up phone call assessment to determine whether the service is suitable for that person.

Sign up to the self-referral service here.

Student Programmes

The referral age for this service has now been lowered and therefore we are now accepting referrals for young people aged 16 years and above.

We have also implemented ‘student’ versions of 3 of our programmes: Space from stress, Space from anxiety and Space from depression which all offer support that relates more specifically to students such as educational stresses, friendships, relationships etc.

We have started to engage with the high schools and colleges across Powys to increase awareness of this availability to students.

Fionnuala Clayton, Psychological Assistant & Online CBT Coordinator & Catrin Guest, Project Support Office
& Online CBT Coordinator

All-Wales Roll-out

One of the key aims of this project was to explore the opportunity of implementing Online CBT across Wales, including the other Welsh Health Boards and third sector organisations.

Work has commenced on this and we went ‘live’ with the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust (WAST) in December 2018 with this service being utilised within their Occupational Health and Staff Wellbeing teams.

We have also started working with Aneurin Bevan University Health Boards (ABUHB) with this service now being piloted within their Primary Care Mental Health Support Services (PCMHSS) and referrals being received since June 2019.

Engagement is still being undertaken with the other Welsh Health Boards, with a view to further roll-out this service across the different health board areas.

For further information on any aspects of the project or service, please check out this Powys Teaching Health Board website, or contact Becka Williams, Project Manager, on 01874 712 444 or

Monday, 22 July 2019

Music Therapy - A Young Man's Introduction

by guest blogger Evan Griffiths

Evan Griffiths is a Powys based 15 year old musician currently doing work experience at the Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO).

His interests in music and mental health have led him to begin researching into the rising medical field of music therapy as a treatment for various mental illnesses such as depression and/or anxiety.

Evan has since decided to spend a morning of his work experience briefly outlining the benefits of music therapy as well as giving some information on it. He would also like to note he’s finding writing a third person introduction to himself a little bit weird.

So, what got you interested in this topic?

Well as anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a bit of a nerd for practical uses for music. I just enjoy seeing my passion being used to help people, so naturally I was drawn to the idea of using music as therapy like a moth to flame because I’d been using music as a kind of self therapy already for years. Because I already had an interest in this topic all I needed was a good excuse to do some research into it (as my spare time was already far too full with being a teenager) so then when we were told by the school to do a 2000 word project on something of our choice I decided then would be a good time to start digging my teeth into some research.

And so I started researching and I’m doing some more currently to fact check the rest of this blog post. The project is yet to be completed but I have so far looked into a fair few sources as well as asked a load of my peers for their thoughts so I will try and give data to fairly represent both the therapy itself as well as my generation’s opinion on it.

Can you briefly explain what music therapy is?

Yeah, sure. Music therapy is, to put it simply, people using music as a way of dealing with mental illness or other issues. It first began in the 1800s but has sat on the back burner of world of treatment for mental illness for many many years. However, recently it has begun to come into the limelight with very high success rates in the face of a mental health crisis. I believe that music therapy is the kind of innovation we need and Powys should have more facilities and support available for people who would enjoy and hopefully reap benefit from this treatment. It’s been shown to help everyone but especially young people and seniors who are exactly the people with highest demand for better mental health treatments.

Do you have any first hand experience with music therapy?

I do, however not from a formal organisation. I learnt music at a young age and have now learnt to write my own songs so I will often do that as a form of escapism when I’m in a bad patch. I have a few friends who have done/are doing the same and though it is helpful it’s nothing compared to the overwhelming success rates of formal music therapy. I’ve talked to my songwriter friends about this a lot and we’ve all agreed that encouraging young people to take up music and creating formal music therapy organisations, or supporting existing ones, would be excellent for the young people of Powys or anywhere really.

Why do you believe music therapy would be helpful, specifically to young people?

Well as much as I hate to admit it, it is true that young people spend far too much time on their phones and this has proven to have an incredibly negative effect on mental health. So encouraging teens to take up an instrument would provide them with something positive and productive to do instead. This would be as well as the positive effects music gives anyway as a distraction from a problem to help a person temporarily feel better. Or it could be used as a method of facing these emotions and communicating them through song, which for some people (including me) is far easier than talking about them to a therapist or counsellor.

So, not only would it be providing teens with a healthier outlet or distraction from their emotions it would also be keeping them off things that could (and probably will) damage their mental health.

What other benefits does music therapy offer?

Music therapy has also shown huge success rates with seniors due to its social benefits. Music has always had a sense of community about it and music therapy reflects that. It brings people together from all kinds of walks of life to share a love of music. And of course, loneliness is a huge problem amongst elderly people and a chance to come and hang out with some friends and sing some songs would likely be a great opportunity for elderly folks to get out of the house a bit, and jamming out to “Sweet Caroline” with the lads twice a month would give them something to look forward to. 

Music can also improve your memory and has been shown to reduce dementia risk which is excellent and only further shows why it’s important for people of all ages to get involved in music therapy if they want/need it. Also if you begin learning an instrument young you’re much more likely to continue with it into adult life so music therapy could turn a depressed teen into a lifelong musician. I think anything that can inspire that kind of change in a person needs to be at the forefront of mental health treatment.

Do the benefits of music therapy carry over to other forms of art? 

That hugely depends on what type of art you mean but generally yes, it seems they do. Many of the things I discussed in my last answer are music specific such as the memory and social aspects. However, many of the emotional therapies offered by music do carry over to traditional art, poetry, acting, or any other kind of art you can think of. It seems that just to create can be a therapy for people as a way of venting emotions.

However I think music therapy is the most widely beneficial of the types of art used in therapy (I know traditional art and poetry are also often used) as it also offers the social experience to the elderly and music can be more easily learnt than, say, drawing. However if you really cannot make music but happen to be an incredible poet then that can also have many of the same benefits for you.

Ponthafren Singing for Well-being - End of Term Showcase

Any charities that support this come to mind?

Off the top of my head I’d say if you want to support music therapy donate money to the Nordoff Robbins organisation. They’re the leading charity for music therapy in the UK and it would be excellent if they could open a branch somewhere in Powys.

But if you do want something more local Ponthafren are truly excellent. I was lucky enough to have the chance to see one of their showcases and talk to members of the charity as well as people the charity has helped. Everyone was really lovely and well informed as to the benefits of music therapy and how they benefited from it personally. There’s an excellent atmosphere at Ponthafren and I’d strongly recommend the organisation to anyone whether you want help with your mental health or if you want to listen to some music. Of course they also do other stuff to promote good mental health. 

Any closing notes or final thoughts you’d like to say? 

It seems like music therapy is a rising medium that just needs to be professionally recognised and implemented alongside traditional therapy methods. It has begun to grow exponentially in the past few years with small scale music events happening to raise money for mental health all over Mid Wales. I believe therefore that it will continue to grow further judging by the amount of advertisements I found for music therapist training courses whilst trying to find a Welsh music therapy charity (I could not find one but I imagine one will open in the near future). If Powys could have a place in this growing medium I believe that would be really cool and I’m certain more of these charities need to be created and supported.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Yoga classes for mental health inpatients in Powys

by Owen Griffkin, Facilitator Powys Patients' Council

“Yoga is physical health, mental calm, and interpersonal peace.” 
Roger Cole MD, Iyengar Yoga practitioner

One of the recurring issues brought up by people who attend the Powys Patients' Council meetings on the Felindre Ward (the acute mental health ward at Bronllys Hospital in South Powys) is that they wanted an activity that would help both their physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

Some people also specifically requested regular yoga sessions. With this in mind, the Patients’ Council looked for funding and a practitioner to provide this. We were lucky enough to discover a development fund set up by the Iyengar Yoga Association UK which would contribute towards yoga sessions for people who would not usually have the funds or ability to access yoga classes. We then found a local practitioner, Pete Norton of Wye Valley Yoga, who could apply to this fund as a qualified Iyengar Yoga teacher. The application was successful and the classes started in April.

So far the sessions have been a success, running every Monday in the recovery room on the ward. Pete said “Yoga is a mind-body practice which has the potential to improve someone's frame of mind. Whilst we are not explicitly teaching yoga as therapy, there is often a therapeutic benefit. This is because when we pay attention to the body and the breath in a mindful way, it helps with focus and concentration and to balance the body systems. Iyengar Yoga is particularly suitable for this kind of environment as we use props such as belts and chairs to ensure everyone can work towards a pose safely, no matter what their experience or ability level is.”

Feedback from participants

Some of the comments from people taking the classes have included:

‘‘Enjoyed the yoga session. It helps to focus your mind and forget about other stresses you may have."

"Absolutely brill!"

"Found the session very relaxing. It also eased tension throughout my body."

Teaching a class in a ward setting can be challenging. It’s not always easy for people to concentrate nor for them to be consistent, partly because some people do not have long stays on the ward. However, those that have experienced classes have really enjoyed them. Therefore, Patients’ Council’s next aim is to find further funding and a venue for yoga classes somewhere close to the hospital so that people can continue practicing yoga once they have left the ward. Pete is keen to continue working with people on a long term basis and a lot of people who have enjoyed the sessions want to take up classes to help with their long-term recovery. 

You can find out more about local Iyengar Yoga classes in South Powys here.

If you would like to know more about Powys Patients' Council then contact Owen Griffkin by emailing or ringing 01597 822191.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Powys Befrienders – Men’s Club Welshpool

Natalie Philbin-Carr is a Powys Befriending Service Outreach Officer at Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (read Powys Befrienders – it’s given me back my life for more on this PAVO project generally).

We chatted recently about the project’s popular fortnightly Men’s Club in Welshpool, North Powys.

First tell us more about your role as a Powys Befriending Service Outreach Officer

My aim is to provide befriending support to people aged 50+ in Powys to help them maintain their independence and social networks and to live in their homes for as long as they are able. This is done through recruiting and training volunteers who will then either visit the clients in their own home for a cup of tea and a chat or through groups run by the volunteers to enable clients to get out in the community. The befrienders will help to promote personal choice, aim to increase self–respect, support existing personal skills and the development of new opportunities.

Why was the Men’s Club Welshpool set up?

There were a number of men we were in contact with who felt that lunches and afternoon teas weren’t for them. They wanted something in a ‘male environment’. Several of them identified that they liked playing board games and cards and so we gave it a try.

What happens at the Men’s Club, when does it take place, and who can go along?

The men all meet together at The Smithfield Bell in Welshpool every other Monday. They have their own table at the back of the pub where they have a selection of games they can play. The gentleman will get themselves a drink (usually coffee or a soft drink) and then sit and chat for a few minutes while getting everything together. They meet at 12pm and are finished for 2pm. The next meeting is on 8th July and then again on 22nd July. Anyone can go along and join in, it’s a lovely relaxed atmosphere.

Why do the men like to attend the group?

They like to enjoy other male company and play games in peace. 😃

Is it important to provide a men-only group and if so why?

I feel it is because it was something that was specifically requested by the men themselves.

Are there Men’s Clubs in other parts of Powys?

There aren’t just yet that are Powys Befriender run groups, however there are a number of Men’s Sheds dotted about but these are more for practical DIY and gardening type activities rather than recreational.

We are hoping to be able to open another Men’s Group in Newtown next month, plans are currently underway to get it up and running.

How does attending the group impact on the men’s mental health / wellbeing?

It gives them something to look forward to and they are doing something they enjoy. Males generally are quite private about things, so it’s nice for them to have other males to chat to without feeling awkward about who may also be listening.

Some of the men who come along to the Club are also volunteers with the Powys Befriending Service. What kind of volunteering are they doing?

They are there to keep things together and to welcome new people along. If anyone has any questions about the group or the service then the volunteers are on hand to answer anything or if they need anything further, the volunteers can just call in to me for further support. They will set the games up and clear things away at the end. A couple of our volunteers are also drivers so help picking up and dropping off clients when they can.

What are the main challenges of providing Befriending Services specifically for men in Powys?

Finding enough men in the same area to make the provision viable and getting transport to get those who need it to the venues.

Tell us about some of the most rewarding work you have done in the Powys Befriending team

When I first started out with the Befriending Team, I took over an area where the groups had dispersed over the previous months. The first lunch club I arranged, only one person turned up to it, and that was a volunteer. 

Gradually, with a bit of hard work, promotion and word of mouth, the group started to grow and just before I left the area, we were getting around 22 - 24 people coming out for the lunch groups. Seeing everyone get together, smiling and laughing and having a good chat while eating a lovely meal, is such a satisfying thing to watch. Knowing you have made someone happy by giving them an opportunity to get out and socialise is priceless, especially when they tell you they may not have done anything else or seen anyone else that week.

When you’re not working how do you enjoy spending your time?

I love camping! Every year my partner and I, and our 2 boys aged 2 and 13, go camping for a few weeks with our dog Herbie. Last year was Cornwall and this year is Tenby! 

While I’m at home I absolutely love cooking and baking. I regularly have friends visiting from where I used to live, so this gives me the perfect opportunity to cook up a big feast where we then all sit round the dining table and catch up! Having lots of chickens and new born chicks at home also takes up a lot of my time but I wouldn’t change any of it! I love having a day off, but it’s very rare I get to relax!

Big thanks to Natalie for telling us all about the Men's Club in Newtown and we look forward to hearing when the Newtown Men's Club opens for business! 

To find out more about the Men's Club, or any of the other Powys Befrienders' activities, you can email Natalie - or ring 01597 822191.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Celf-Able - peer support in a creative environment in North Powys

Andrew Logan (Celf-Able's patron) donated this artwork for the Secret Art Sales
Two and a half years ago we introduced our readers to a new group by and for disabled artists in Powys called Celf-Able. This week's guest author Amanda Wells - one of the founder members of the group - gives us an update on Celf-Able's recent and planned activities, and ongoing development.

Hello, I’m Amanda, voluntary co-ordinator for Celf-Able, a disabled-led inclusive art group in Montgomeryshire. We have been having a busy time at our meetings in Machynlleth, Caersws, Llanfair Caereinion, Welshpool and Newtown. We meet once a month in each venue and get together to do art in a social and peer-supportive atmosphere. We provide materials and people can have a go at different types of art, and when funding allows we invite artists to do workshops with us on different art materials and techniques. We have done pottery, mosaics, linoprinting, portrait painting, abstract painting and a host of other activities.

We believe in the role of art in wellbeing and social inclusion. Members benefit from exploring their creativity and doing art in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere. We share skills and help each other achieve our artistic aims. We hold regular exhibitions at Newtown library and Centre Celf in Llandrindod Wells. We are disabled-led but we are open to all.

We have recently changed our logo to a dragon who’s a wheelchair user, this has sparked us into doing a series of dragon paintings. These will be on display and for sale at our fundraising event on July 20th at Oriel Davies, Newtown. There will also be a ‘secret art sale’ of decorated postcards in sealed envelopes. The postcards have been decorated by Celf-Able members and also artists Andrew Logan, Mary Lloyd-Jones, Linda Jane James, David Bannister and Steffan Jones-Hughes. We also have a ‘Lucky Squares’ raffle for original artworks and limited edition reproductions by Brian Jones, Linda Jane James, Steffan Jones-Hughes and others. We are very lucky that Andrew Logan recently agreed to be our first patron.

Artist Linda Jane James has made a temporary dragon mascot for us and s/he needs a name, so we have a ‘name the dragon’ raffle too. We hope to get funding to make a permanent mascot soon.

We have been hand-decorating mugs to sell to raise funds, members have decorated them with lots of different designs. This was my idea, I donated some plain white mugs to the group and we have been using Posca paint pens to decorate them. When baked in the oven the paint becomes permanent (although not dishwasher-proof). Members have enjoyed decorating the mugs with their designs.

Recently we had a stall at Llanfair Carnival, we sold donated items and brought the dragon mascot for its first outing, we also had original art for sale. With grants ever harder to get we have been increasing our activity to raise our own funds.

I was one of the founding members of Celf-Able back in 2014, we developed out of a group on Celf o Gwmpas’s Artist Training and Mentoring scheme. We wanted to carry on meeting when that project ended so we set up on our own. Celf-Able has grown a lot since then and we have had many activities as well as our regular meetings. We had a trip on Welshpool canal and also a horse-drawn canal boat trip in Llangollen. We hope to get funding to go on some day trips to galleries in Aberystywth, Machynlleth, Birmingham and Walsall, we will then produce artwork inspired by the trips.

I fell into the role of voluntary co-ordinator and have had to learn how to make grant applications and do various admin and co-ordinating tasks. This has been very demanding at times but I have gained a lot of project management skills. I would quite like to study a course on project management to get a qualification. I have also grown in confidence, personally and as an artist, so although it can be hard work and stressful at times I still get a lot out of Celf-Able, and have made lots of new valued friends. I enjoy the meetings as it’s a time I set aside to do art, mixing with like-minded people. I have been encouraged to study for the MA Fine Art at Wolverhampton, this is nearing completion now, I would never have had the confidence to do this without Celf-Able. I’m even looking into going on to do a PhD, on disability arts and society.

I really enjoy seeing other people grow in confidence too. Sometimes people are very apprehensive when they first come to the group but after a few sessions they start to relax and enjoy their creativity. It’s also good for Celf-Able to connect with other organisations. We attend a variety of networking events locally and further afield, such as Aberystwyth and Chester. We are going to be a case study group for ArtWorks Cymru’s Quality Principles, this work starts in July.

We are holding two ‘Beth Am Gael Tro/Have A Go’ workshops at Llanfair Caereinion Institute, Upcycling on July 27th and Creative Writing on August 17th, these will be led by members who have gained the confidence to run workshops through the group. So a busy time ahead, but we do it for the love of art!

Many thanks to Amanda for the latest news on this thriving disability-led arts group. 

Celf-Able now has a Powys Lotto page - you can support local causes and have a chance of winning prizes with the local lottery. You can find out more about the organisation by phoning 01938 810058 or emailing: