Reconnect Focus Group

On Tuesday 28th June the Caerphilly People First Reconnect Focus Group had another craft session with Cheryl from the Parent Network. We made fairy jars, and some members made bracelets for themselves, friends or family. Thank you Cheryl for another fantastic session.

We’d also like to welcome Sam who has started volunteering with Caerphilly People First. Here are his thoughts on his first session – “I felt that it was really good, I learnt some new skills, for example participating in the allotment project along with the craft session. I feel that my confidence and social interaction are being developed, as I can come across as a shy and quiet person who can get very nervous when meeting new people for the first time. Thank you for your help and support, it’s very much appreciated. I look forward to seeing everyone at the next session.”

If you would like to get involved in the work on the allotments or our craft sessions please contact us on 07488 350518, 01443 834444 or 07940 474640.

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!

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.

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.   

Reconnect Focus Group

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!

Meeting with Chris Evans MP

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.

Tackling Isolation and Loneliness

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.

Medical Students Training

At the beginning of March, Ffion Poole and Natalie King worked alongside Cardiff People First to train medical students on how to communicate with people with learning disabilities. The training involved going into a breakout room and holding a number of interviews with students, where the conversations included what Caerphilly People First does and people’s lives and hobbies. We really enjoyed this and hope we can be involved again in the future.