A story by Orcadia Creative Learning Centre
We ran our Nurture Group which is for young adults with mild disabilities and experiences of ACEs takes place one a month where group members participate in activities aimed at preventative emotional health and wellbeing, in a safe and secure environment that allows them to be their selves.
What Nurture Group did
In response to the lack of evening social activities for young adults with mild disabilities and mental health issues, many of which arisen due to adverse childhood experiences, Orcadia set up a monthly Nurture Group for 21-25 years on a Friday evening. Activities take place at Orcadia once a month on a Friday evening between 6pm and 10pm focusing on preventative emotional health and trauma recovery for 14 young adults.
The group have participated in a range of activities including paired 'getting to know you' interviews where the group discuss how it feels to e listened to and ask questions, what feelings can someone experience if they don't feel listened to, and what will help them to listen to each other within the group. Regular activities within the group are art and music therapy, mindfulness exercises, games, trips, and outings.
Discussion workshops take place with a different topic each month including healthy eating, social media, bullying, anger managements, however many of these topics merge together and we have found that it is better to allow the group freedom to do so. The group very much enjoy their meals together, these are based on large family mealtimes where everyone is involved in setting the table and 'dishing up' and all sitting around this large table chatting whilst they 'break bread' together. For some of the group Nurture is the only time they have this experience.
With the support of the project staff group members have worked together to support each other and to explore positive coping strategies. Staff have experienced the group coming together and growing emotionally from initially being withdrawn and very tense, not wanting to take part, to opening up and sharing their feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, and experiences of bullying.
There have been many tears and outbursts along the way but these tears are turning more and more to happiness and laughter. By talking and sharing these feelings there is a definite feeling of togetherness being created within the group with strong and meaningful friendships being formed, something that many have not experienced before.
What Orcadia Creative Learning Centre has learned
Last year, due to coronavirus, Orcadia had to suspend all of our communication arts programmes we provide and temporarily shutter the centre. Although we have now re-opened for day services, we are unable to return the full nurture group to the centre at this time due to current Scottish Government restrictions. During this time the staff continued to provide support and maintain vital contact with the group including monthly zoom sessions, as well as individual regular telephone/video calls, social media, music and fitness videos.
Although the funding for this group has now ended the staff have committed to continue providing support on a voluntary basis. We will continue to support the group via phone calls and zoom sessions however we feel it is vital for the group to resume 'in person' when restrictions are lifted. In the meantime we will be making appeals for future funding to secure the groups future development.
How Orcadia Creative Learning Centre has benefitted from the funding
Due to Creative Breaks funding we were able to secure the shortfall required to deliver the project in full. Due to the success of the Nurture Group we are hoping to secure funding to continue and expand the project further.
Around 25 carers will get four hours of respite each month for a year.
14 cared for people attended the nurture group for four hours on one Friday evening per month. During this time 29 parents/carers and other family members were able to have much needed time to themselves and a chance to relax and enjoy time with friends by going out for a meal or the cinema or simply enjoying some time to read a book or have a bath!
14 cared for young adults with mild disabilities and experience of ACEs will be able to share the emotions, needs and wants with their carers more openly, meaning carers can work more efficiently and feel better able to cope.
By exploring emotions, making friends and joining in fun activities group members have developed their communication skills. Doing the things they want to do with their friends, without having their parents or carers around to 'watch over' them, and taking part in the activities has helped them to develop their self confidence and self esteem, and regulate their emotions. Parents/carers have had time to themselves, especially those working full time, are older or have health issues, and have been able to relax knowing the person they care for is having a good time. The Nurture Group has helped sustain the caring relationship as the cared for are now more able to express their emotions, needs and wants more clearly and carers are more able to meet their needs more efficiently.
14 young adults with mild disabilities and experience of ACEs will be less socially isolated, have improved confidence and be able to recognise and discuss their emotions more accurately and appropriately. In turn, this will mean that around 25 carers will feel more comfortable and happier in their
The group have learned how to support themselves and each other using positive coping strategies whilst having fun in a setting where they are safe to voice their trauma without fear of judgement. They have worked together to look at ways to improve their social and emotional health and how to feel better about themselves. With improved confidence and communication skills, both parties now feel more comfortable and happier in the caring relationship leading to improved health and wellbeing for everyone.