Shared Worlds - Span Arts
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Shared Worlds

As part of SPAN’s contribution to the response to Covid Crisis and Pembrokeshire’s Campaign for Kindness, SPAN delivered a wide range of online artist-led workshop activities in Autumn 2020 in order to improve social connectedness and wellbeing and reduce loneliness and social isolation for all ages.

The project was adapted early in the lockdown in response to the crisis and aimed to connect isolated and elderly people and children through online creative technology sessions, as a recognition that there were many more isolated and elderly people who were housebound, lonely and anxious at this difficult time.

The project aimed to introduce older people to new technologies in an atmosphere of playfulness and experimentation.

A series of five artist led online workshop experiences in dance, Welsh folk singing, poetry, puppetry and mindful photography were delivered.

Over 190 attendances took place with 47 people enjoying regular online creative experiences delivered by commissioned artists and musicians Kerry Steed, Jeremy Huw Williams, Richard Chappell, Emily Laurens and Ray Hobbs.

Feedback showed us that these experiences provided a valuable, regular and uplifting opportunity for individuals throughout the Autumn months.

Shared Worlds Case Study

Introduction:

SPAN is a progressive community arts charity driven by the core belief that the arts have the power to improve people’s lives through Arts as Social Change in West Wales.

In response to the Covid-19 crisis SPAN delivered online Art Workshops in order to improve social connectedness and well-being for all ages in Pembrokeshire.

The project aimed to reduce loneliness and isolation, improve mental & physical health & wellbeing, increase participants’ social networks and support younger and older people to use creative technology.

A series of 5, artist led online workshop experiences in dance, welsh folk singing, poetry, puppetry and a mindful photography were delivered. Over 190 attendances took place with 47 people enjoying regular online creative artist led experiences.

The Challenge:

Shared Worlds formed part of West Wales is Kind, a programme supported by the Welsh Government as part of A Healthier West Wales. The programme focused on the development of a regional set of activities to incentivise active citizenship. It was based on an intergenerational approach that fosters and nurtures connections to alleviate loneliness and isolation prevalent in Pembrokeshire.

The project was designed to offer intergenerational arts activities that linked young and old together to develop knowledge and skills (including IT skills) to improve social connectedness and reduce the risk of loneliness and isolation.

It took place during the Coronavirus pandemic and was adapted to serve the urgent community need for social connections for the many more vulnerable individuals.

The Approach:

In the Autumn of 2020, Shared Worlds hosted a series of 5, artist led online

workshop series in dance, welsh folk singing, poetry, puppetry and a mindful

photography.

Initially SPAN responded to the reports of high levels of loneliness and isolation, the

need for intergenerational activity, low digital ability in older people and to build on success of SPAN’s digital work. Following the initial effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the inability to access care homes, SPAN adapted the concept to serve the urgent community need for social connections and activities and for users to gain and develop digital skills. With everyone unable to meet, levels of anxiety and loneliness increased and the need to increase digital skills rapidly accelerated.– Shared Worlds was able to step in to offer positive and meaningful online Art Workshops.

Over 190 attendances took place with 47 people enjoying regular online creative experiences delivered by commissioned artists and musicians Kerry Steed, Jeremy Huw Williams, Richard Chappell, Emily Laurens and Ray Hobbs.

…sense of belonging for the first time since moving here… more able to be open, vulnerable and to make connections.

“I feel better”

The project was awarded £25,000 to deliver an intergenerational project.

The Impact:

SPAN commissioned an external evaluator who utilised various methods to gather

information, including interviews, reviewing SPAN’s internal data and own evaluations, by using feedback forms, session observations and by compiling case studies.

At the end of the project we invited participants to complete feedback forms and used the Most Significant Change technique promoted by Health partners in Pembrokeshire to try to identify the biggest changes that had taken place to each individual. 4 individual case studies were written with feedback from all who took part feeding into the overall findings.

SPAN also created a bespoke scoring system and a 3 word review system that received positive results. Looking at this data we can see that the majority of participants scored higher at the end of sessions. Across all the sessions, the most popular word was ‘FUN’! With other popular words including interesting, learning, challenging, better and enjoyable.

All workshops were successful and feedback shows us that these experiences provided a valuable, regular and positive opportunity for individuals. really looked forward to Wednesday evenings. It made me feel cheerful in the difficult times noticed a genuine sense of joy that grew within individuals and the group during the sessions’

Lessons Learned:

Online arts engagement has a powerful role to play in the wellbeing of individuals. Evidence collected told a compelling story of individuals being connected, and uplifted through engagement with artists online.

More engagement with schools and youth settings to increase numbers of young people taking part will encourage intergenerational activity.

SPAN has adapted its sign up, permissions, pre-workshop data collection, online code of conduct and online safeguarding procedures for easier data collection and knowledge of participants.

The Legacy:

Shared Worlds has left a lasting and helpful legacy for SPAN, artists, participants, partners and Pembrokeshire. The project significantly helped SPAN to contribute to the community response to the COVID crisis by supporting SPAN to offer a creative community service to people during this difficult year.

The project enabled SPAN to rapidly upskill in online arts and participation delivery and learn from the individual case studies. SPAN has gone on to successfully secure funding from NESTA/HARP to scale up and strengthen this work.

“I feel better”

“I appreciate being able to come to your group and I enjoy the way you facilitate. It helps me recharge my batteries and boosts my wellbeing.”