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.
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 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.
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.
This week, as members of TRAC at the University of South Wales, we were invited by Cwm Taff People First to take part in some filming about the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, where staff and members were filmed playing the roles of doctors and nurses. During the pandemic, people with learning disabilities were given ‘do not resuscitate’ orders, in spite of widespread condemnation of the practice and an urgent investigation by the care watchdog. Mencap received reports from people with learning disabilities that they had been told they would not be resuscitated if they were taken ill with Covid19. Although this is very difficult subject to have to deal with, the process also included some fun moments as we united to express our views and feelings.
For the fourth of the six events we have set up to tackle isolation and loneliness, we headed to the Fleur De Lys Community Centre in Blackwood. We were delighted to be joined by ten people, some of whom we were meeting for the first time. Everyone seemed very positive as we talked about our experiences of Covid, and how we have all coped. Thankfully, individuals are now increasingly going out into the community and attending events. After the discussions we had a great time playing music requested by individuals, and we also hosted a quiz that was all about Easter. Congratulations to Sophie and John who won the quiz and got to share the Easter egg.
We have held discussions with some of our members about what they want to do in the community and what will make a better day for them. Some members told us they would like to learn how to grow their own food. This led to us contacting the Taraggan Educational Gardens project in Bargoed, and a lovely gentleman called John invited us to pop along and take a look. John showed us a plot that our volunteers/members can work on to grow their own vegetables. Some of our members decided that they would love to do this, and we have now signed a lease for a plot and can’t wait to get started!
Caerphilly People First trustees, members and staff recently took part in ‘Good Governance for Groups’ training, delivered by Philippa Davies from All Wales People First. Governance is:
- Making sure that a group is following the law.
- Making sure that the organisation is doing things properly and following the right rules.
- Making sure the organisation is doing what it aims to do.
We found the training very informative, detailed, and easy to understand, and we will take what we’ve learned and use it to improve the way we run Caerphilly People First.
We recently met with Chris Evans, MP for Islwyn since 2010, and the Shadow Minster for Defence since 2021. We talked in detail about the proposed changes to the Human Rights Act (1998) and the lack of consideration given to people with learning disabilities when documents are produced. Chris Evans has agreed to write to Deputy Prime Mister Dominic Raab to stress the importance of easy read documents, and the concerns people with learning disabilities have over the proposed changes to the Human Rights Act. We would like to thank Chris Evans and his secretary for taking the time to visit us and hear our thoughts.
This week we held a coffee afternoon at Libanus Lifestyle Centre, as part of our project to tackle isolation and loneliness, funded by the Caerphilly Cares Team. We were delighted to be joined by new faces, as well as some people we already know. The group had a great discussion on the effects the pandemic has had on our mental wellbeing. Some people talked about having to shield because of underlying health conditions, which made them feel extremely lonely, especially over the Christmas period. The group also talked about the lack of support for people during lockdown. A couple who attended said it was their first time being out with a group in a social setting for over two years. The event was also attended by regular Caerphilly People First members, who talked about their anxiety when using public transport for the first time in years. The next meeting of this group will be held on Monday 28th at March, again at Libanus Lifestyle Centre in Blackwood, and all are welcome to attend.