Thursday, 23 July 2015

Hafal's All Together Now! Campaign Rocks at the Royal Welsh!

 Aims to unite people through music

Glynis Luke (PAVO mental health team - far right) being photographed
with an army dragon mascot and Hafal staff
High summer is here - time for shows and festivals and having fun. My colleague Glynis Luke was at the Royal Welsh Show earlier this week, and met up with staff and visitors at the stand of the mental health charity Hafal where she was introduced to a giant blue dragon and listened to some banjo playing amongst other things...
A visitor to Hafal's stand plays the banjo!  Photo courtesy Hafal
"We get by with a little help from our friends"
The Beatles

I visited the Hafal stand at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show earlier this week to find out more about their All Together Now! Roadshow. The campaign is promoting opportunities for peer support and wider social integration for both clients and carers with a priority to develop the social life sections of individual care and treatment plans and sharing information of appropriate agency referral. Run by service users and carers, and supported by Hafal, Bipolar UK, the Mental Health Foundation and Diverse Cymru, the All Together Now! Roadshow is currently travelling across Wales and calling at music festivals and events taking place in each of the 22 counties

The Hafal staff were all wearing annotated All Together Now! purple T-shirts (the colour of recovery). There was a huge welcome at their Royal Welsh stand, including a cup of tea, and the sun was shining (I was ignoring the slight drizzle of rain). 

Gill Colerick, Hafal's Powys Family Support Officer  Photo courtesy Hafal
I met up with Gill Colerick, a former colleague from PAVO. She introduced me to her colleagues and told me more about the campaign and her work in Powys. Gill is Hafal's Powys worker, setting up groups for carers of those with "serious mental illness" in the county. Gill and I chatted about the benefits of both music and animals as good therapy when connecting with people experiencing mental distress.

I haven't played any musical instruments since the recorder at school, but I love to hear music and will dance around the house to my favourite songs. I will sing away in the car too when I don't think anyone can hear me! It's universal - it touches everyone's heart. It can bring all sorts of different emotions to the surface. I grew up in a musical family, my Nan used to play the piano. I have an image of people gathering round the piano as she played, and we would sing. My father used to sing for Brighton & Hove Opera, he used to be in all the musical shows and knew all the words to the songs.

"I like to boogie!"

I was able to speak to other visitors to the stand, including the wife and carer of a gentleman with dementia. She shared with me a variety of the difficulties that had been encountered since his eventual diagnosis of dementia, as well as the impact on family and friends. She said, “It’s difficult to know where to go to get help, what is ‘out there’ and when it's available, we ‘alternate’ between good days and not so good days…… Weekends are the hardest, it can be quite lonely.” I was able to share details of the Welsh Dementia Helpline with her. 

Visitors to the Hafal stand    Photo courtesy Hafal

Getting out and meeting people at events like the Royal Welsh Show can reduce isolation and that feeling of loneliness. There are practical, achievable things you can do now which could reduce your chance of developing dementia or, at the very least, improve your general health and wellbeing, and I was able to share some of these with her. Research has identified many risk factors associated with dementia, you can find out more at The Alzheimer’s Society website.

The famous Hafal VW camper!
I popped inside the VW camper to take a look. There were boxes of toys for children playing in there. You could measure your height against the blow up green snake and try out a pedometer. If members of staff were around children were allowed to sit in the front! It was a great way to keep youngsters busy while people were talking to the Hafal staff.

"If we hold on together"
Diana Ross

L-R: Dawn Williams (Hafal), army dragon mascot, Gill Colerick (Hafal),
Glynis Luke (Mental Health team - PAVO)   Photo courtesy Hafal

All Together Now!, was officially launched at the Norwegian Church Arts Centre in Cardiff Bay by Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford AM. 

Launching the event the Minister said: “Music has an ability to connect to the emotional side of our lives in ways that very few other things do. And we know this very well in the field of mental health.

This campaign, as it goes around Wales, will use the All Together Now! strap line to draw people into a much wider set of discussions about their own place in the world and about connecting to people who have shared their own experience, but do it in a way that has a lot of joy!”

"Take a chance on me"

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