Insightful ways of getting people engaged in Calderdale


Members of the rock climbing group scling the indoor wall.Calderdale Insight have been looking for new ways to engage with service users who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis and have been supported by the Trust’s innovations fund and charitable funds.

Both the innovation fund and the charitable fund give out money to support projects across the Trust. They are not used to fund NHS services, but enable the Trust to provide extras it could not otherwise offer.

As a new way to help people who use Calderdale Insight, a rock climbing group has been started at the indoor wall at Huddersfield Sports Centre. While rock climbing is often seen as a way to get outside and enjoy nature, you don’t have to live in an area where you have access to outdoor rock climbing, many gyms have indoor rock climbing walls that will work your mind and muscles just as hard.

The rock climbing group provides many benefits including both mental and physical health. At the same time as being great cardiovascular exercise, increasing muscle mass and tone, it requires problem solving skills and a great deal of concentration, which has been found to be very relaxing and meditative. One indoor wall could have many different paths and levels of difficulty requiring climbers to analyse a route. Although the sport was once thought of as a sport only for adrenaline junkies, with good instruction and modern safety equipment, it is safe and enjoyable for any age to climb at their own comfort and ability. The indoor climbing sessions offer both a thrilling and exciting experience for services users and many of the group have never rock climbed before. The necessary safety equipment is available to borrow from the sports centre and after the required safety training they are ready to scale the walls.

Speaking about the climbing group Chris Oliver, a support, time and recovery (STR) worker with the service, said, “As a service we are always looking for new activities that will engage people and help with their recovery. These weekly sessions have proved to be really popular and a great way to improve confidence and social interaction of members of the group. Not only is their confidence growing with each session, but we have found climbing is brilliant for developing patience and planning. Climbing requires for you to make spot decisions as you go, commit and follow through and tests the ability to assess a problem, look for a solution, and then execute a plan. The sense of achievement they get from reaching the top of the wall is great to see.”

As there are many different routes that the climber can take they can gradually develop their abilities and complete a higher grade route each time. This has been very successful for members of the group goal setting and getting a sense of achievement each time they come rock climbing. As well as developing skills individually rock climbing is very much about being part of a team and building relationships. Climbers have to learn how to put their trust in the person holding the rope and when bouldering, climbing without a rope, members of the group call out routes and different holds to take as a spotter to help guide their fellow climber.

STR worker Alex Walker added, “Members of the group might have found themselves socially isolated, but taking part in activities like rock climbing with people who have experienced similar difficulties really builds their confidence and helps them reconnect in social environments. Our instructor Ben has been great at helping the group and it has definitely proved to be one of our more popular activities!”

As well as rock climbing Calderdale Insight have also recently taken service users out llama trekking in Ripponden. The unusual activity was a big hit and was only possible as a result of charitable funds money. Llamas are recognised as being great stress busters so much so that it is even referred to as llama karma. While you don’t actually ride a llama because they are

pack animals and can only carry about 25 kilos in weight, they are quiet, gentle and very inquisitive animals. Leading them through the countryside is an unforgettable experience and a great way to discover the countryside whilst learning more about the animals.

What is the Insight service?

Our Insight teams work in all our districts with people aged 14 and above who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis. The teams aim to identify and treat symptoms early to promote recovery.

It is normal for any us to have strange experiences now and then, like hearing noises when we’re very tired, but if you experience psychosis other things can develop such as having concerns that everyone can hear your thoughts or physically feeling things that other people can’t. If psychosis is identified and treated with early intervention individuals can recover, maintain relationships and achieve their aspirations.

Insightful ways of getting people engaged in Calderdale

time to read: 3 min