If you’ve been following our blog and other communication channels over the last few months, you’ll know that the way we deliver our flagship arts, health and wellbeing programme Our Day Out (dementia-inclusive creative workshops for all older people led by professional artists) has had to change dramatically since March, as organisations everywhere responded to the pandemic and subsequent government safety rules.
The remote Creative Wellbeing Packs we now offer, not just to our regular participants but to all older people in Norfolk and beyond, are going from strength to strength. With this in mind, and with 2020 coming to an end soon, we wanted to reflect on some of the key achievements of the Our Day Out programme over the last 3 years since the project began, and share some of the substantial successes it has achieved in terms of the links between arts, health and wellbeing.
In collaboration with our principle funder Spirit of 2012, we published an Impact Report containing the significant findings and analysis to come out of the project from 2016-2019. Take a look at some of the key statistics above, including our academically validated wellbeing data (more on this in the report, read it in full here).
Since the beginning of Our Day Out we have worked with Dr Hannah Zeilig, who has provided us with invaluable academic insight and independent evaluation of the project, offered further analysis of our approach, and conducted interviews with participants. Dr Zeilig has also written about the project in her own research as well as in external publications. Her latest article appeared in the July/August 2020 edition of the Journal of Dementia Care, and focuses on Our Day Out’s particular mission in reaching people living with dementia living in rural communities.
Our Day Out has garnered increasing local press attention since the pandemic, and fed into national conversations about dementia, isolation, and the benefits of arts activity on health and wellbeing.
In April 2020, our Executive Director Natalie Jode appeared on BBC Radio Norfolk as part of their coverage on how local organisations have adapted their work in response to the pandemic. Natalie focused on how Our Day Out was responding, and also introduced the premiere of beautiful original song ‘A Day In With Our Day Out’ written by Mary Lovett and Kimberley Moore, two local musicians who had previously led workshops through the project and were the first artists to adapt their planned sessions into Creative Wellbeing Packs.
We also appeared on BBC Look East as part of their World Alzheimer’s Day coverage in September 2020. Their focus was on the profound impact that music can have on people living with dementia, and they interviewed one of our participants about her experience seeing her late husband respond to music during the later stages of his dementia.
In 2019, we entered Our Day Out into the Royal Society for Public Health Awards under the Arts and Health category. We were nominated alongside some other incredibly worthy programmes, and so when we named as the winners, we were absolutely overjoyed. To have our programme recognised on such a national scale, and celebrate alongside project partners was without a doubt one of the stand-out moments for the organisation in 2019. The prestigious kitemark reignited our determination to break into the social prescribing framework, and has started to help us do so. Read more about our win here.
We are also nominated for a Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance Award – the Collective Power Award, which was presented in conjunction with Ideas Alliance, and celebrates the power of collaboration between different sectors that helps make projects like ours a success. We achieved ‘Highly Commended’ status, and were one of the runners up for the award, which we were incredibly pleased with, considering the stiff competition from other fantastic projects.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have been continuing delivery of Our Day Out remotely, through a carefully curated series of free Creative Wellbeing Packs, sent twice-monthly. Each pack is based on a theme in collaboration with a different professional artist and contains activities to encourage gentle physical movement, keep the mind busy, and other ways for recipients to feel creative and connected from home. We also offer opportunities for them to share their creations, keep in touch with us and access extra content through our private Facebook group, website blog and regular phone-calls. We’ve worked particularly hard lately to make the packs image-rich so that they are as accessible as possible, and we also provide accompanying materials such as audio CDs where needed. So far, the pack themes have included Jazz, Typography and Bollywood to name a few!
We are also thrilled to announce that thanks to new funding from Independent Age, we are now able to offer the Creative Wellbeing Packs free of charge to all older people, whether they have previously engaged in the in-person Our Day Out workshops or not. This offer is available for those living in Norfolk and beyond, and we’re so pleased that now we will be able to reach more older people who may benefit from creative engagement at home during this difficult time.
If you are or know an older person who might enjoy and benefit from receiving twice-monthly Creative Wellbeing Packs, or are a health and/or social care professional who wants to collaborate with us to refer people on to the programme, then please do get in touch. You can phone us on 01953 713390 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We’d like to take this opportunity to extend a message of thanks to all our funders, not just of the Our Day Out programme but of Creative Arts East as a whole and our other projects. Your patience, support and flexibility in working with us to trial new approaches to delivery where possible during this time has been invaluable.
Creative Arts East are taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge this year – a match-funding campaign to raise £,2000 in individual giving. Every donation, no matter how small, will be DOUBLED by pledges we’ve already gathered. To give what you can, please visit creativeartseast.co.uk/christmaschallenge. The campaign is live from 12pm 1st December – 12pm 8th December.