Disabled people, people with learning disabilities, and care workers all attend the group.
Music, dance, drama, activity sessions.
- Improved social links and ties;
- Individual and collective action and control;
- Improved individual wellbeing;
- Increased confidence, knowledge, skills and assets.
What has the project achieved?
As well as keeping group members active and entertained, the Moving On project helped them to improve their social ties, to make friends and to develop confidence, knowledge and skills. Importantly, it was a chance for members to have ownership of the performances and activities that they took part in.
Improved social links and ties
- Making friends;
- Learning social skills;
- Reducing isolation.
Before joining the project, many group members faced social isolation on a daily basis, with little chance to interact with people other than their support workers and direct family. This is not a healthy situation for anyone. Moving On reduced isolation, and the risk of isolation, by providing the opportunity to meet new people and improve social skills.
Group members, their care workers and the project volunteers all agreed that making friends was central to the project. Making and maintaining friendships can be hard for many disabled people, as they are often excluded from mainstream society. The weekly sessions gave members the chance to have fun and make new friends.
Isolation is often talked about as an issue for elderly people, but I think it is also an issue for many disabled people… so it is great that they at least get the chance to meet others and make friends whilst they are here.
Individual and collective action and control
- Activities shaped by group members;
- Creative decision making;
- Participation and responsibility;
- Sense of ownership.
Project volunteers used the ideas and interests of participants to shape the project, giving group members a sense of ownership. This flexible and inclusive approach meant that everyone was able to contribute according to their abilities and talents. For some this meant setting out the room or coordinating refreshments for the weekly sessions, while others focused on performances, helping make costumes and props, acting or singing. Everyone was able to decide what they wanted to do for the performances and to express themselves creatively.
Volunteers aimed for group members to take the lead in making creative decisions, while their own role was to facilitate this. Individual participants would decide on how they wanted to get involved, and volunteers would then help them do this.
Although the project lead and volunteers helped to direct and organise what the group did, they took care not to impose anything on the group, who made the decisions on what to do.
This group is so inclusive and diverse and gives everybody something to look forward to, something that they can get involved with, take ownership of and have some pride in.”
Participant support worker
Improved individual wellbeing
- A safe space for participants;
- A chance to relax;
- Personal development for volunteers.
Moving On provided a safe space where group members could be themselves, giving them the freedom to have fun. It was a positive and supportive place, where people were made to feel welcome and could express themselves without embarrassment.
Volunteers reported that they had also benefited from improved wellbeing themselves, learning skills and knowledge, building confidence and gaining a greater breadth of social links. Those who had not previously worked with disabled people and thought at the beginning that they were ‘helping out’ or ‘giving something back’ were surprised at how much they themselves learned.
The most important thing for the project is for everybody that attends to have fun. If they have fun, then all of the other things like building their confidence and learning new skills happen by themselves.
Increased confidence, knowledge, skills and assets
- Creative skills;
- Social skills;
Interviewees agreed that participants gained new skills through attending the sessions and taking part in performances. While gaining skills in singing, acting and dancing, they also developed their social skills and improved their confidence and self-esteem.
Trying new and more ambitious activities such as theatre outings and putting on productions in the Civic Hall also helped increase volunteers’ confidence in what they could achieve with the group. Over time, members who were not used to being with other people developed the confidence to communicate more among each other and with the volunteers. For some members, this extended to their lives outside the group, for example becoming more confident in going out on their own.
Being given responsibility for their own activities helped to increase members’ confidence along with an improved sense of self and wellbeing. There were clear benefits, too, for the project support workers and volunteers, who reported on their own learning and development – for example learning how to sing ‘This is me’ in Makaton.
You can see how the clients develop and build their confidence. They come here and they just light up, even if at the start they were a bit more timid. This group gives them the opportunity to be themselves, which helps them increase their confidence.
Participant support worker
Lessons for other projects
- Demand is greater than capacity. There was a need for more opportunities like this, but adding more participants to the group would have reduced the quality of the sessions.
- Trying new things can increase the quality of the learning experience. More ambitious activities helped to grow confidence within the group.
- Volunteers benefit too. If more people volunteered at sessions like these, it could build capability in the community for more inclusive activities.
The project was funded, through Health Lottery West Midlands, as part of People’s Health Trust’s Active Communities programme.
The project was evaluated by Ecorys as part of the independent evaluation of the 2018–2019 Active Communities programme. The evaluation drew on a case study visit and interviews with participant volunteers in July 2019.