Over 100 people attended a unique event on 22nd June in Wakefield which offered opportunities to get involved in their local NHS as well as watch a unique piece of theatre to celebrate national learning disability week.
South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health and learning disability services to people in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, was recently authorised as a Foundation Trust. This is a different kind of NHS organisation, which gives people who use services, and those living in local communities, the opportunity to join as a member and help shape how the Trust’s services are developed and delivered.
The Trust now has over 13,000 members including staff, and people living in the local area attended yesterday’s event to find out more about opportunities to get involved and what a difference it can make. The event was also a chance for people to chat with the Trust’s chair and chief executive as well as representatives of the Members’ Council, a body of people elected to represent the interests of members.
To mark this week being Learning Disability Week there was also a special production by Full Body and the Voice, a theatre company which promotes the inclusion of disabled people in professional performance and which has an ensemble of professional actors with learning disabilities at its heart. The performance was called ‘That was then, this is now’ and explored photographs from local history comparing our lives now with the lives of our ancestors.
The evening ended with a musical performance from Hoot, a creative arts group that aims to enhance the wellbeing of people with mental health problems.
The Trust’s Chair Joyce Catterick said, "It was great to meet local people who want to get involved in our organisation and how it is run. I’m very much looking forward to working with our members and putting their individual knowledge and experience to good use. We were also delighted to have a production from Full Body and the Voice, it was the perfect way to help celebrate Learning Disability Week and highlight the talents of people with learning disabilities."
Glyn James, who is a member of the Trust, attended the event and said "It was an enlightening evening and I found it really helpful to be able to find out more about the ways people can get involved. It was great to be able to talk to staff individually about more specific things that interested me."
Jon Fraise, a Members Council representative said, "Engaging with people who use Trust services, their carers and the local community is a top priority and their views really do matter to us. This event was a great success and it was encouraging to see so many people taking a genuine interest in how we run our services and wanting to contribute."