Mental health patients at Dewsbury’s Priestley unit, which is run by South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust, have been encouraged to attend the theatre thanks to a scheme set up by West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Activities worker for the Trust, Kelly Sykes found out about the Community Network Scheme. Kelly works to provide a variety of activities for patients on the ward using a limited budget and resources.
The Community Network scheme aims to provide theatre access for groups who would otherwise be unable to attend. It is run on a membership basis with discounted tickets being made available to its members.
The scheme offers a range of other benefits to its member groups including social events, free backstage tours and talks from Playhouse staff and show directors.
Speaking about the scheme Kelly said, "Before I took up the role of activities worker, boredom was a real problem on the ward. Now we have all sorts going on but trips to the theatre will be particularly good as they get our service users out and about. I pursued West Yorkshire Playhouse because of my personal interest in the theatre and because it is important for us to develop new ideas so that our service users can experience different things."
Staff at the Priestley unit are eager to promote social inclusion and help integrate service users into the community through visits and community links. Kelly considered the scheme an ideal opportunity for her group to join other members of the community and share a common experience. She said "Trips out can be a huge challenge for our service users as they often feel anxious and paranoid about what people think of them. It’s important that we introduce them to new experiences. Sometimes doing so can open doors".