Thursday, 3 September 2015

Comedy and Wellbeing - Havin’ A Laugh Project

by guest author, Owen Griffkin

Gein's Family Gift Shop

There’s an old saying which goes -  "Laughter is the best medicine." There’s also a joke, which is nearly as old, which retorts, "Unless you are diabetic, and then it’s insulin".

I was a stand-up comedian for a good while back in the last millennium, and now I produce a host of comedy nights in and around the Mid Wales area and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with this adage, having seen first hand the benefits of a ‘right good b%***y laugh’.

Anyone with any experience of mental health issues knows that laughter is a wonderful way to feel better as it decreases our stress hormones, produces endorphins and increases memory, alertness and learning.

It’s for this reason that I have been working with the Wyeside Arts Centre, the Arts Council of Wales, and the Garfield Weston Foundation
on a pilot project right here in Powys to help build confidence, improve mental wellbeing and break down some of the stigma attached to mental health issues.

I had the idea after holding workshops for the recent DIY Futures project and again with Powys Mental Health Information Service. The workshops comprised of simple and quick word play and story-building exercises, which had the participants finding new ways to share experiences in a safe environment. These were a lot of fun and there was huge interest in a longer-term project.

Participants on Owen's Laughter Workshop
Individuals' Forum Day, Caersws, April 2015
Finally after consultation and planning the idea has finally come to fruition (hooray!) in the form of the ‘Havin’ A Laugh’ project and we will be running some taster workshops this October. This will lead on to the main part of the project in early 2016 which will consist of 4/5 more in-depth sessions.

The project will be led by James Meehan and Kiri Pritchard McLean, two of the team behind ‘Gein’s Family Giftshop’ - a deliciously dark sketch show group who have just had a mini-series produced on BBC Radio Wales, and appeared in an episode of the ‘Inside No.9' programme on BBC 2. They have been nominated for most of the major comedy awards over the last two years and we couldn’t ask for anyone better to be heading up this project.

The sessions will be suitable for anyone from any background, of any age and physical ability.

There won’t be any pressure to perform and the focus will be on looking at your stories in a new way, confidence building, and, most importantly, having a laugh and enjoying ourselves.

There will be an OPEN TASTER at Wyeside Arts Centre on Wednesday 14th October from 1:00 - 4:30pm which is open to all and is a great way to see what you can gain from the project.

For more information or to book a place please email

The Open Taster at Wyeside Arts Centre is no longer going ahead. However, there are three other Havin' A Laugh workshops taking place which are open to all:
Tuesday 13 October - 1 - 4pm & 5.30 - 8.30pm
The Wellbeing Centre, Mid Powys Mind, Llandrindod Wells
Thursday 15 October - 2 - 4pm
Wesley Church Centre, Hospital Road, Builth Wells


  1. This is great news Owen, a pioneering project which sounds amazing in every way. I hear that Mid Powys Mind are also promoting some of these workshops which I'm sure they'll advertise through their channels. For example the 13th October in Llandrindod, 15th in Builth and 16th in Knighton. I hope the Wyeside event goes well- having been to one of your short sessions earlier this year I can thoroughly recommend this to anyone and to everyone.

  2. Hi Phil, Owen here. Mid Powys Mind will be hosting workshops like you mentioned on the dates provided - Thanks for your kind recommendation, it;s a really exciting project and I'm really looking forward to it, and it's great to have the support of Mid -Powys Mind and Powys Mental Health to get it off the ground.