In 2012 I started my first shift as an Arts and Crafts Therapist at St John’s Hospice.
Words: Rachel Horne
Photography: Rachel Horne
I’d never been to a hospice before, but I’d worked for over a year in a Dementia Care Home developing and programming creative activities. I loved this job; I learnt first-hand the importance of creativity in a caring setting.
If you’re not really sure what a hospice is, here’s a short intro. The concept has been in Europe since the 11th century, in particular, Roman Catholic hospices were places of hospitality for the sick, wounded, or dying. A modern hospice focuses on caring for patients that are chronically, terminally, or seriously ill. Medical, holistic and volunteer staff work together to attend to the patients’ pain and physical symptoms, along with their emotional and spiritual needs. Unlike many hospital settings, there’s access to a hair salon, counselling and spiritual support, but also a range of complementary, pet and art therapies.
Art therapy is a very broad term which started as a branch of psychotherapy focusing on a way for patients to express themselves in a therapeutic way. Art therapists can be found in working with children in war zones and last year many were drafted from around the country to work with the children who were affected by Grenfell.
Every week I work with up to 12 patients who attend Day Hospice. Patients are picked up from their home by a volunteer driver and once everyone has arrived, there’s tea, coffee and biscuits. Getting to know the patients quickly is very important. It’s about building relationships so that patients can feel comfortable enough to let go and create. The more I find out about a patient, their lives, their memories and interests, the easier it is to connect and engage them in a meaningful way. Most people haven’t heard of art therapy. Many think it won’t be for them. Often people were told at school that they’re not creative and sometimes it can be hard to convince people otherwise. Despite all this, it’s my job to draw out that creative side, no matter how much it’s been hidden away.
This month I’m celebrating my 6th year working at the hospice. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Every session is filled with creative conversations, laughing and sharing. I have made some of the most amazing relationships in this job and wish the alchemy that surrounds the building could spill out into the rest of the world. It’s the most compassionate, loving space and a true honour to work there.
I believe everyone is creative. You might not be the next Leonardo Da Vinci but being creative comes in many forms. It might be the music you listen to, the way you talk and crack jokes, your personal style, choosing beautiful colours for your home, or the way you sit and get lost in knitting or crochet at night.
At the hospice I try and find projects for patients o take part in that they will enjoy and find meaningful. This could be a memory box for a family member, painting a silk scarf as a gift, or knitting premature baby hats for the maternity unit at DRI.
To do this work I have had to develop an armoury of creative techniques and ideas which I can use at any moment. It’s impossible to predict what someone might take an interest in. That an ex-miner in his 80’s may want to start weaving, moulding clay or arranging flowers makes my job more difficult. When someone has got the bug, I constantly need to be developing new ideas and techniques to respond to what people want to create.
Overall, it never fails to amaze me how creative and unique each person I work with is. If I gave people the same sheet of paper and coloured paints, each person would produce something completely different. Every ten-minute sketch will reveal something unique, a trace of ourselves, a frozen moment in time. Just like our ancient ancestors’ cave paintings, it’s people making their mark. It’s the essence of our humanity spilling out on the paper. Even quick marks or squiggles are a mirror to that person in that specific moment in time. It’s impossible to recreate those marks again. I find that humbling and fascinating.
The most important aspect of my job is helping those that come into the hospice to leave feeling better and lifted. It might not be medicine, but it does seem like magic the way it can help people to feel better.
As the dark nights draw in and summer clicks to autumn, when contemplating how to pass the long cold evenings…look no further – welcome to Cast’s Second Space.
The dynamic nature of the Second Space gives the theatre goer a 3D theatre experience, directly engaging them within the performance. As a willing participant there is no distinction between wealth or class.
Long gone are the days where the gentry paid to be in the galleries, using cushions for comfort and the peasants paid a pretty penny to stand in the yard. The elitist theatre dwellers are behind us, theatre is here, in all its contemporary accessible glory and it’s here for the good people of Doncaster to devour.
The concept of space is a very important one in the theory of theatre as it is used to identify very different aspects of performance, the second space at Cast is a flexible performance area – the pull out raked seating can be removed for standing events and to maximise performance space. The seating is flexible and usually three sided but the view is great from all angles.
Employment: all ranges of skills will be used in the development and production of plays in the Second Space, talent real talent, writers, actors, costume designers and lighting specialists all partake in these productions. Doncaster has known its high level of unemployment through the years, we still suffer high numbers now. Cast gives opportunities to up-and coming artists and writers. The importance of the second space is a voice is given to those productions which won’t feature in the main theatre, this is for a range of reasons, the content.
Tackling difficult subjects and equality: The second space is daring, edgy but mostly it’s relevant. To mention a few of the productions; Bin Laden: The One-Man Show (Thur 5th Oct) looks at the events which surrounded 9/11 and the character of Bin Laden directly interacts with the audience. Giving the audience a different perspective, will they have an open mind and emphasise with the protagonist? Habeas Corpus (Thur 28th Sep – Sat 30th) through slapstick humour explores our society’s obsession with body image. The amazing Dark Horse Company is entirely made up of adults with learning difficulties and they bring their comedy You Have Been Watching (Wed 11th Oct – Thur 12th) to the Second Space.
I caught up with Chris O’Connor the script writer for Marching on Embers – a new play about the aftermath of violence in Northern Ireland and how it affected two generations of the same family. This showcased at Cast’s Second Space on 20th September.
‘As an emerging writer having the opportunity to have my work performed at Cast’s Second Space is something I am incredibly grateful for. It gives young, emerging artists the chance to showcase some of the new and exciting work being developed in the region and beyond and without these sort of platforms a lot of these artists might never move on to the next level. Buglight, who I collaborated with on this project, are a new theatre company and like to make work that is bold, challenging and offers a new perspective on things so they feel like the perfect fit for the Second Space.’
If you missed Marching on Embers at Donny you can catch it at the below venues.
Harrogate Theatre: Fri 29th & Sat 30th 7.45pm
Oldham Library: Weds 4th Oct, 7.00pm
Square Chapel, Halifax: Thurs 5th Oct, 8.00pm
Bradford Playhouse: Fri 6th Oct, 7.30pm
Lantern Theatre, Sheffield: Sat 7th Oct, 7.30pm
The second space is everybody’s theatre, it is engaging, daring, dynamic and brilliant! To book your tickets and see the listings visit HERE.
Outlines Festival will return to Sheffield City Centre for its second year from 3rd to 4th March 2017, with regional and breaking talent featuring heavily on the bill.
Emerging artists from across the area are being encouraged to apply to play at the event, with a number of slots available in all festival venues. Applications are open now via the festival’s website at outlinesfestival.com
The full list of applicants will be processed by a range of music industry experts, and successful artists will be invited to join the event alongside a host of household names, with the headline bill to be announced shortly.
The festival’s programmer, Kate Hewett, says:
New and unsigned artists are crucial to keeping a festival vibrant and exciting. With 2016’s Outlines bill, we were able to introduce a whole host of impressive emerging talent to festival-goers, and we’re looking forward to doing the same for our second year.
The festival’s organisers will be expanding the event for 2017, with up to 150 artists on the lineup and a brand new, two-day programme of events. Outlines will now also be accessible to the region’s younger music-lovers, with revised age restrictions allowing access to those aged 14 and up.
Outlines was put together by the team behind the hugely popular Tramlines, and takes place across a number of iconic venues in Sheffield’s city centre, including the Leadmill, Plug, Queens Social Club and The Harley.
2016’s event saw established names including UK hip-hop pioneer Roots Manuva mingling with emerging and unsigned talent, with many new names on the bill already achieving significant success.
Lineup announcements will follow shortly. In the meantime, discounted super-earlybird tickets are available for just £10.00 while stocks last.
‘Be who you are on the inside’
The latest issue of Doncopolitan will be hitting the streets of Donny next week and is a shining a light our town most stylish creatures.
ASOS designer Stevie Hockaday talks about making it big in the fashion industry in London and Violet Cannon from Doncaster’s Romany Gyspy community challenges misconceptions about Gypsy style. There’s a love letter to the Priory and a defence of skating and skate culture from #DonnyLife
We dedicate this issue to the memory of the beloved Colin Joy, recently passed. Colin was the manager of Doncaster tourism. His love for Donny was infectious and he has done much to boost our town; he is deeply missed.
Issues can be picked up (for free of course) across the town- at pubs, clubs, cafes, leisure centres and indepent stores. Get in touch if there’s somewhere you’d like to see Doncopolitian.
A massive thank you to all advertisers supporting our publication show the world that Donny is no culture desert but alive and kicking with passion, plans and swagger.
Muslim and Christian communities in Doncaster have united to raise funds for refugees in Syria.
On Saturday 9 July Muslim Christian Fellowship, led by Rev. Tom McCready of Doncaster Unitarian and Free Christian Church walked the 20 miles from Doncaster to Selby, with the final destination being Mr C’s famous fish and chips shop.
The sponsored walk raised £300 and money is continuing to be collected. The group aims to raise £1000 to give towards the next ‘Families Relief’effort for Syria.
Those wishing to donate can make a cheque to Yorkshire and Humber Shared Future Project, C/0 Doncaster Unitarian & Free Christian Church 60A Hallgate DN1 3PB.
Muslim Christian Fellowship’s next meeting will be on Saturday 6 August at 5 pm, at which a documentary about Syria will be shown.