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Outreach work supports people with dementia and mental health needs

5th February 2015

NGCV partner Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) has used its museums, galleries and collections to work with older people with dementia and people with mental health needs.

Staff from TWAM’s Community and Outreach Team have worked alongside Occupational Therapists in hospitals and care residences to help people suffering from dementia trigger memories from their lives. Objects from TWAM’s collections – including football memorabilia and old records - and creative activities are used alongside people’s own photos and possessions, to prompt conversations and interactions between group members.

A member of hospital staff involved in the project said: The work of your colleagues has provided opportunities for patients to reminisce and to articulate their memories to other people on the ward. I have noticed through my own observation that creating opportunities to reminisce can encourage patients, who can sometimes be withdrawn, to engage with other people.”

This project was run in conjunction with Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Housing & Care 21.

TWAM has also recently worked with Gateshead Clubhouse Moving Forward, a service for people with mental health needs from the Gateshead area, many of whom are socially isolated and find it difficult to participate in day to day activities.

Members and staff of the Clubhouse worked together with TWAM staff to create a weekly group called the Exploring Local Culture Group.  Each week the group members visited a cultural venue in Newcastle or Gateshead, based on their interests. The trips were suggested and planned by members of the group and included trips to NGCV venues the Laing Art Gallery, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Centre for Life.

The project aimed to support members to increase the stability and consistency in their lives, supporting them to feel more in touch with their local communities and be active citizens.

As well as visiting venues, the group also took part in activities including a glass fusion workshop at the Shipley Art Gallery.

As a result of the programme, a number of members went on to visit venues independently and many became more confident using public transport. Some members of the group also saw improvements in various aspects of their mental health including self esteem, independence and relationships.

A member of staff from Gateshead Clubhouse Moving Forward said of one of the group members: He is confident and outgoing with strangers and enjoys socialising at high profile events extra to the activities (exhibition openings, open days etc). This is a marked improvement as previously any contact with strangers would have proved extremely stressful and anxiety provoking.”

As a group, NGCV is committed to providing opportunities for hard to reach, vulnerable and marginalised individuals, groups and communities. It has raised £34m from trusts and foundations to support projects and cultural activities beyond core programmes, including outreach, learning and participation and special projects. By sharing best practice, NGCV’s ten partners are able to develop learning and outreach opportunities to ensure more people have access to arts and culture in their local area. Working together also encourages people to experience different art forms and enjoy the varied cultural offer available to them in NewcastleGateshead.

For more information about TWAM’s community and outreach work, please contact the outreach team on outreach@twmuseums.org.uk or call 0191 232 6789