All Wales People First Adfest 2022

This year’s All Wales People First conference, otherwise known as Adfest, was held on 21st and 22nd June in Conwy, North Wales.  The theme of this year’s event was ‘Reconnecting’, and ‘celebrating the place of people with learning disabilities in Welsh society’.  This was the first in-person Adfest since 2019, and Christy and Ffion attended as representatives of Caerphilly People First. 

On day 1 the keynote speech was given by Stuart Todd of the University of South Wales, who talked about the Covid impact study he has carried out.  He was followed by Joe Powell, Chief Executive of All Wales People First, who engaged the group in a session called Devil’s Advocacy.  This involved Joe asking questions like ‘should people with learning disabilities be the first to lose their jobs during Covid?’ and inviting attendees to give their views.

Ffion and Christy attended two workshops on day 1: ‘Health and wellbeing’, hosted by Carmarthenshire People First, and ‘Holding on to your rights’, hosted by the British Institute of Human Rights. This was followed by attendees giving feedback from all the workshops being hosted.

After this, it was time to relax.  Some people had a swim, some went for a walk, and some just caught up with friends they had met over Zoom during Covid.  After sitting down for our meal, the evening ended with a disco hosted by DJ Gerraint, which was great.

The morning of day 2 was spent enjoying the ‘Speakers’ tents’ where various organisations – including Welsh Ambulance Service, Gig Buddies, North Wales Together, Practical Pilates, and the Through our Eyes photography project – gave presentations about the work they do.  It was especially great to meet Victoria and Rachel from Gig Buddies, after having only spoken to them previously on Zoom.

Other organisations, such The Ambition Party Project, Rainbow Gogs yr Enfys, Conwy Connect, Improvement Cymru, Cheeky Pants, and Rainbow Gogs yr Enfys, had exhibition stalls where they provided information (and sometimes goodies).    

Also on day 2, All Wales People First held an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) where members voted on proposed changes.  The conference ended with the Mirror Awards, which are presented in celebration of the great work done by self-advocates and groups over the past year.  Well done to all the people and organisations who won an award!

It was a brilliant few days away in North Wales and great to be back meeting face-to-face.  The Quay hotel, where the conference was held, and where most people stayed, was excellent.  The staff was very helpful, the views were beautiful, and the food and the service was outstanding.  We can’t wait to see you all next year in South Wales when we’ll do it all again!

Reconnect Focus Group

As many of you know, Learning Disability Week takes place from Monday 20th June – Sunday 26th June, and this year’s theme is reconnecting with friends and family after COVID. As we will be travelling to North Wales to attend the All Wales People First annual conference next week, we will be unable to hold our Caerphilly People First Reconnect Focus Group. Because of this, members decided to bring the Learning Disability Week activity forward, and reconnected at a craft session delivered by Cheryl from The Parent Network. The group made friendship bracelets and added their own names, or the name of a friend or family member. We had a great session; it was lovely to see members old and new.

Focus Group

Yesterday the focus group, joined by Paul and Sam, spent another great morning volunteering at Taraggan Educational Gardens. Our plot is now full, and our potatoes, leeks and cabbages are ready to grow. If anyone would like to join us we will be back at Taraggan next Tuesday from 10.30 to 12.30.

During the afternoon the focus group popped along to Islwyn coffee shop, formerly known as Springfield day centre. The coffee was amazing and it was lovely to see some familiar faces. This week they have a plant sale on all week, so why not pop along and grab yourself a bargain. The staff looked so professional in their uniforms, and the customer service skills were incredible.

University of South Wales Co-production

Natalie, Ffion and Sarah were recently joined by Stacey Rees and Edward Oloidi from the University of South Wales to talk about the new project we are going to be involved in – co-producing an accessible outcomes measure based on the HEF (Health Equalities Framework) and Service Development project. The Health Equality Framework is an assessment used in Wales to check on your health and life. The five areas covered in this project are: Where you live and what you do, your health, how you communicate, things that keep you healthy, and support to stay healthy. This is important because people with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to health problems. We are really pleased to be part of this focus group and looking forward to the second part.

Focus Group / Jubilee Celebrations

The Caerphilly People First Reconnect Focus Group enjoyed another busy Tuesday this week.  The day began with our regular visit to the Taraggan educational gardens where we planted potatoes and checked on the progress of our sprouts.

The afternoon was spent hosting the second part of our platinum Jubilee celebrations.  We had a great time taking part in a quiz about the Royal Family, playing bingo, and having conversation over tea, sandwiches and scones.  Thanks again to United Welsh for funding this activity.

Reconnect Focus Group

This week the Caerphilly People Reconnect Focus Group was extremely busy. The morning was spent at the TARAGGAN Educational Gardens & Nursery, where the group planted leeks in their garden plot. We’d like to thank John for helping us with the planting, and Paul and Sam for popping along and giving us a hand.

In the afternoon the group began their Jubilee celebrations with an arts and craft session. This involved sticking Union Jack flags onto a canvas, adding a picture of the Queen’s head, and decorating the canvas with sparkly gems, beads, pearls and buttons etc. We’d like to say a massive thank you to Cheryl from The Parent Network for running the session. This activity – and next week’s activity where we will be having afternoon tea and hosting a quiz about the royal family – was partly funded by United Welsh.

Caerphilly People First Focus Group

The Focus Group would like to say a massive thank you to staff from the Caerphilly Parent Network who joined the group for this week’s craft session. They taught the group how to make stress balls and decorate them, items which will prove very useful! Everybody had great fun and the Parent Network staff were great, very helpful and interactive. We look forward to undertaking more partnership work with the Parent Network in the future.

Wales Covid Evidence Centre

Ffion, Natalie and Sophie recently attended an online workshop identifying research priorities for the Wales COVID-19 Evidence Centre (WCEC). The three went into individual breakout rooms and talked about the general impact of the pandemic and lockdown, and the impact it had on their health. Everyone shared their stories about how they felt at the height of the pandemic, and some people became very emotional. We will be meeting the same time next week for part 2.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week took place from Monday 9th May to Sunday 15th May, and this year’s theme was loneliness.  During the pandemic lots of people experienced loneliness, and sadly 1 in 4 adults will be affected by mental health problems during their lives. During Mental Health Awareness week, the CPF Reconnect Focus Group focused on their mental health and wellbeing by connecting with nature and the outdoors.  We spent some time digging, planting and painting; activities which are really good for physical and emotional wellbeing.  The group also took part in a wellbeing game and touched on what makes us sad, happy and angry. We finished off our session with a lovely walk in the sunshine.

Tackling Isolation and Loneliness Week 5

During this week’s coffee morning we welcomed some new attendees and had a great time catching up and sharing our stories. 

Our main activity this week was playing bingo, with the winners being awarded an Easter egg, but we also talked about what makes a good day, and what people are doing to keep themselves busy and occupied.  Because of the reduced services which have been in place due to the pandemic, members can’t attend their old day opportunity and are missing friends and staff.  They told us they would like a chance to connect with friends whilst taking part in activities and learning new skills.  Some people have begun to travel into neighbouring county boroughs where day opportunities and social opportunities are available.  This has led to people sometimes paying £70 to take a taxi to make the journey.