This project worked with service users at Newton Lodge on learning disability and mental health wards to develop writing skills. For 12 weeks the group worked on a number of activities, principally creative writing, exploring a number of different genres and styles. Group size varied each week but was consistently around 7-10 people, with some coming every week. Sessions were designed so that it was possible to attend and benefit from every session but that it was also possible to ‘drop in’ and still be able to take part.
There have been a number of benefits as a result of the project, most notably around the breaking down of barriers.
A common phrase at the beginning of sessions was ‘I can’t do this…’; participants repeatedly overcame this, producing work which was then given praise by their peers and staff.
It reinforced the idea of being able to successfully overcome challenges both in the session and hopefully in a broader context.
There were opportunities for the staff and participants to interact and develop social skills in a positive environment, plus the chance to mix with people from different wards.
Alongside this were real benefits to participants’ communication skills, in terms of both their literacy skills and their empathy and understanding of others.