Speakeasy Bury Aphasia group – workshop on Tuesday 4th July
I think it has taken me a while to write up the ‘blog’ on the last workshop, as along with life’s usual crazy busy schedule, I had not expected to be as emotionally effected by both the groups we have recently worked with. I hadn’t know where to start, or how to do the groups justice via a small blog, so I have started here with the impact it has had on me.
I like most have my own share of life’s tricky bits and being dyslexic understand to a certain degree the difficulties in communicating with the written form. For instance when it comes to writing suddenly the hovering and washing up are awesome activities!
Both of the groups of people we met, the Women’s Cultural Exchange Refugee group and the Aphasia Speakeasy group have had to deal with and problem solve difficulties way beyond my own experience, and with major communication issues to boot! Obviously I am aware of the huge impact that serious illnesses and being displaced from your home can have on a person, and their family, but hearing about it and seeing it up close brings it into sharp focus. Working with the two seemingly different groups of people, their stoicism, desire to laugh, embracing living their lives and enjoying the moment has shone through, not wanting to sound trite, I have found it an overwhelming humbling experience with a large dose of perspective.
Speakeasy Bury is an Aphasia group, just outside Bury in Ramsbottom.
From the website: “Aphasia is a complex communication disability which is sometimes known as dysphasia. It can happen after a stroke or other damage to the language parts of the brain such as a tumour or road accident.
People with aphasia may find it difficult to use speech, to understand the communication of other people, to read and write and sometimes to use numbers. However, intelligence is not affected.
Aphasia is different for each person. Some people can have severe difficulties and can feel locked inside their head unable to make sense of what other people are saying to them and unable to express simple messages. Other people have problems with spelling, reading single words or long sentences. Many people with aphasia have problems in finding the word they want to say – like having something on the tip of their tongue all the time.” http://www.buryspeakeasy.org.uk/ Please follow link for more information.
We decided to keep to the same format as the previous workshop, using the same materials, and recording stories by a variety of different means, keeping a dynamic and flexible approach.
It was fun to set up, meeting new people in a new place. The session took place in Ramsbottom Cricket and Rugby Club. We were in a room to ourselves with one big table which we could all sit around, with a quieter area outside where people could talk.
First though, big gulp we had to give a presentation using PowerPoint on a large screen and a microphone to the whole group, about 35 people! Rachel discovered I have a very loud voice, no need for a micro phone!
With the communication issues the group’s members have, a multi-pronged approach is used, talking, being clear with concise sentences and taking our time (no fast rambling and chattering), a PowerPoint presentation running alongside with words and images mirroring what we were saying.
The PowerPoint, another steep learning curve for myself and Rachel. Gill who set up and runs the charity and Jo who works for the charity had much patience with us and tweaked forms we needed, and the PowerPoint presentations to make them aphasia friendly.
After the presentation, people who were taking part, about 12 people, made their way to the art room. It got going quickly, we did our best to keep up! Rachel talking to two people who only wanted to share their stories in a quieter room.
Sam and I started with the re-creating of the treasures, getting to know people and the treasures they had brought and to begin to understand the back story, either phone recording or making notes as people talked. Sam has worked with the group before and they know her, which was a real benefit and help to us, with the ease with which she chatted, listened and could ask relevant questions that would enable people to find the right words to express themselves.
It was a really fun group of people, including the support workers and volunteers. Everyone embraced the spirt of creating a treasure from the array of materials we had put out and sharing the story behind them.
It seems the materials look so good, that people are not hesitant to find out how to use, they dive straight in, and then ask questions. Which is great!
A combination of people being so willing and patient with us, meant between me, Sam and Rachel, we managed to speak to everyone taking part, taking down at the very least the essence of story they wanted to share. To have a longer and more sustained time to get to know the group, listen to the stories and create the treasure would have been excellent. I have written up Ann’s story, have a look on the story page.
Whilst we were running our session, the other members were taking part in different activities, and also facilitating the always necessary and delightfully received teas, coffees and biscuits.
It felt like we had landed in a lively friendly community for a day, with a hub bub of warmth, support and laughter. The laughter and smiling was omnipresent, I felt like I was part of something much bigger than the groups reason of supporting people with Aphasia.
Thank you Speakeasy for allowing us to come in and run the project and feel so welcome!
See the previous post for images and here are some more: