Hospice work and Art & Health
'During my time as day care leader I considered David’s work to be my greatest asset. I worked with David for 6 years; he came weekly to run a theatre workshop with the group. The projects he created ranged from completely fun to much more poignant topics allowing patients to talk about their thoughts and fears around their illness and dying in a different way and work through these. Whatever the project there was always laughter, commented on by other teams in the hospice. For the patients the sessions took them out of their situations, it gave them a much needed break to thinking about their illnesses and this would continue for them outside of the session. Patients would rush into the room the following week, bright-eyed for the session to start so they could share thoughts they had come up with about the project over the week at home. David is an extremely talented individual. He was able to include everyone in the session and made sure all thoughts and feelings were valued even if they differed. David always made sure everyone could join in in some way whether they were very quiet and shy, hard of hearing, unable to communicate verbally, David would ensure that all patients were able to be included as well as managing unexpected events, challenging points of view and emotional situations. The sessions would always end on a positive. David was a huge loss to our centre and I would wholeheartedly recommend his work. I feel immensely privileged to have worked with David and being a part of his work is something I will always remember.'
Peter Gillam Support Centre Leader (RGN)
I have worked extensively in the area of Health and Well-being. As Associate Director of Forest Forge Theatre Company I developed and delivered many short and long term Arts and Health projects, pioneering work with drama in Hospice Care, with Early Onset Dementia, Children with Autistic Spectrum Condition and with adults with experience of the Mental Health Service. I have devised plays with groups which have led to performance both with professional actors, community groups or a combination of the two. I have delivered weekly ‘story-making’ workshops with Cancer patients and have spoken about this work at Arts and Health conferences.
Examples of Health and Well-being projects, workshops and plays:
Until recently I led regular workshops at a day care centres of Hospices (one now in its 17th year), working with people experiencing Cancer and their carers.
I use a variety of stimuli such as items of costume, music, poetry, pictures, objects or ideas to instigate a creative process through group work that results in stories, plays or poems and a lot of laughter.
I have written a play titled ‘The Great Escape’ based on my work at the Hospice. This was performed at an Arts and Health Conference looking at cancer care. The play looks at three people living with cancer and visiting a day-care centre where they tell stories to help deal with their condition. Together the trio stage the famous second world war story of the great escape which becomes a metaphor for their own struggles. The play received fantastic responses from health professionals who suggested it could be used as a learning tool for staff working with cancer patients, and from ordinary members of the public with experiences of cancer.
I have worked in the community with various groups of ‘Elders’ producing projects and plays based on the lives and experiences of the group participants. This work includes ‘The 1960’s Play’ created with the ‘Mind The Gap’ group at Salisbury Playhouse when I was Writer on Attachment there. I also ran a series of practical workshops exploring the history of Theatre with the over 60’s group ‘Act Your Age’ at Forest Forge. During this time I wrote the lyrics for a 400 strong community choir project for Salisbury International Festival
I have developed many Health and Well-being projects, both short and long term. Many of these projects connected with hard to reach communities and resulted in public performance.
‘Falling for You’ a play I wrote after a series of workshops with people with dementia and people with experience of, or fear of falls, I spent weeks interviewing people at day care centres and balance classes. The resulting play with songs was then performed back to those people as well as to the general public.
‘Going Out’ A workshop programme that resulted in a performance by members of a group of adults with experience of the mental health system.
‘Work, Rest and Play’ A series of workshops using drama and reminiscence with people with early onset dementia.
‘MiTunes’ ‘Celebrate’ Two inter-generational projects that brought together secondary school pupils and elders from their community resulting in productions using professional actors and community participants.
‘Out Of Joint’ A play about the lives of excluded children. Based on interviews and workshops with students from a pupil referral unit as well as other students in danger of permanent exclusion from secondary school.
‘Battle Lines’ A trilogy of plays I wrote and directed, based on research and reminiscence about Hampshire people during wartime. One set during the First World War, one during WW2 and the last set in modern times.