Tag Archives: Arts Council England

Impro For Elders – back by popular demand!

 

Back by popular demand, Impro For Elders is starting again at Church Street Library! The project is a 8-week pilot programme starting tomorrow, Wednesday 17 May, 3.45pm to 5.15pm (ask at the library for more details).

This grew out of a project delivered by Improbable Theatre in partnership with Church Street Library between November and December last year. It was funded by a local community fund, Create and Arts Council England. Directors Andre Pink and Caroline Williams worked with over twenty 60+ people local to the Church Street Ward to explore improvisation and storytelling, aiming to give older people from the local area access to the uplifting shared experience of improvising together. You can read about what happened last year on a previous blog post, Improbable Impro.

Impro For Elders appeared at The Cockpit in a double bill with Improbable’s improvised show Lifegame on 30 November and 1 December 2016. In a special version of Lifegame, one of the Impro For Elders participants was the on-stage guest each night.

We received some fantastic feedback from both participants and audience members:

“What I have gained out of it is immense and given me positive energy which I was certainly lacking before taking part in the project.”

“I actually feel years younger! I was surprised at how much energy I had and how my body could do things I thought I could no longer do.”

“I thought it was the best theatre experience I’ve seen and felt this year. Inclusive, moving, funny, full of possibilities” 

“A thoroughly enjoyable evening – both shows were filled with joy, humour and passion. I always enjoy Improbable performances, and the Impro For Elders concept is a fantastic one.”

Given the extraordinarily successful outcome and subsequent demand from local older residents, Andre Pink from Dende Collective has offered to continue on a voluntary basis whilst Improbable will be sponsoring him to make it more sustainable.

The project will work again with the same group along with new participants. Visit the Dende Collective’s website  for more information about them and their upcoming events.

‘As a company rooted in improvisation, we believe that it is a deeply democratic art form that fosters a sense of community and empowerment amongst its participants and audiences alike. In an age of increasing digital complexity it is determinedly live, and about the people who take part, their energy and what they offer.’ Ben Monks, Improbable Executive Director.

Visit Improbable’s website for more information about them and and their upcoming events.

Debora Gambera (Church Street Library)

Ben Monks (Improbable Executive Director)

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Mental Health Awareness Week – Surviving or Thriving?

mhaw17-main-banner_0Read, learn and connect with us during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week –

Libraries’ positive contribution to the mental well-being of the population is well documented – see the Arts Council’s publication on ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries.’ 

I say population and not just customers or residents as it has been said that living near a library and, indeed, just walking past a library has a positive effect on one’s emotional and mental well-being.

Of course we in libraries are keen to invite people to come through the doors and experience the well-being benefits first hand. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ which encourages us to look at our physical and mental well-being.

mental-health

Some of our offers are more obviously health focused, our health information displays encourage us to feed our brains with the right food and suggest ways to be more active, as well as giving information on managing and living well with chronic conditions.  Poor physical health can be a drain on our mental and emotional strength and poor mental health can lead to inactivity, poor diet and so the cycle continues.

One way to break cycles of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is cognitive behavioural therapy and Westminster has a free psychological therapy service, Westminster Talking Therapies.

In order to help people decide whether this service is for them or for support while waiting for a referral, or during, or after therapy, the libraries’ Reading Well Books on Prescription collections are recommended by GPs and health promotion specialists. A new collection put together to support those living with chronic conditions will be launched in July this year.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative is part of our Bibliotherapy offer. Our libraries host read aloud groups in partnership with The Reader Organisation. These facilitator led ‘Share a book’ groups meet every week and give members the opportunity to join in reading aloud from good literature and discuss what has been read over a cup of tea or coffee or just sit back, listen and enjoy the company.

lavenderIt is encouraging to look at how we in libraries contribute to what is called ‘the wider determinants of health’  All the things in our lives that support us, family, work, employment, housing, finances, education, lifelong learning, English classes, coffee mornings, knitting groups, activities for children and teenagers, employment advice, business information points for entrepreneurs old and young, all these available in libraries.

Libraries have always been inspirational and aspirational encouraging us to ask for more learning and knowledge and skills to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our families.

There are also some very good enjoyable fiction books available free to borrow hard copy or online! See our new book displays or log on to the 24/7 library. Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can improve mental well-being?

See what you can do this Mental Health Awareness week to look after your own mental well-being, eat well, sleep well, go for a walk in one of our gorgeous parks and yes, visit your local library.

Kate Gielgud

Health Information Co-ordinator

 

 

 

 

Dress rehearsal

Some Home Library Service members were the guests at a dress rehearsal at Church Street Library last week of Impro for Elders, before their actual performances this week (tonight and tomorrow!) at the Cockpit Theatre. Impro for Elders is directed by the award winning Improbable Theatre and funded by Arts Council England and Create Church Street.

Impro for Elders dress rehearsal, Church Street Library November 2016

The improvisation performances by local people who had been meeting for only a few weeks were emotional, funny and imaginative. The HLS members were able to provide valuable feedback to the performers, which hopefully will add to their performances!

Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to attend a local cultural theatrical event:

“I was moved by the stories and enjoyed the humour”

“If I had been younger and more steady on my feet this is something I would have really enjoyed participating in”

“Such imagination!”

Members of HLS attend the Impro for Elders dress rehearsal, November 2016  Members of HLS attend the Impro for Elders dress rehearsal, November 2016

[Elaine]

We’re being taken over – by children!

Takeover Day 2015If you come down to Westminster City Archives, Maida Vale Library or St John’s Wood Library on Friday 20 November you’re in for a big surprise!
You’ll find children from St Matthew’s CE Primary School Year 6, Ark Atwood Primary Academy Year 4 & George Eliot School Year 6 doing jobs and taking on roles that adults usually do.

Children will welcome visitors working in the reception or in the scanning department or be archivists, librarians, conservators or volunteers for the day.

“I would like to do the workshop because it will be a great experience for me, plus when we grow up, we will know how it feels to have a real job”

– Kayode, St Matthew’s Primary School

20 November is Takeover Day, a day on which museums, archives and heritage
sites up and down England are being taken over by children and teenagers. Organised by independent charity Kids in Museums with the support of the Children’s Commissioner for England, and funded by Arts Council England, it will help place children and teenagers at the heart of our heritage.

So roll up, roll up on Friday 20 November and discover how we’re putting children at the heart of what we do.

[Georgia]

We can help

Did you know that using a public library is good for your mental health?

Books on Prescription at Victoria LibraryRecent research done for Arts Council England found that

“Library usage is associated with higher life satisfaction, higher happiness and a higher sense of purpose in life… These results suggest that libraries generally have an important role in library users’ quality of life and wellbeing.”

– The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries, 2015

Today is World Mental Health Day so we’re taking the opportunity to talk about some of the support that Westminster Libraries can offer to maintain and improve your and your family’s mental health.

If you visit your local library today, you are likely to see a display entitledBooks on Prescription – a selection of self-help books put together by health professionals that give guidance on managing and, in some cases, recovering from mild to moderate mental wellbeing issues. These books are available for a longer-than-usual loan period, and figures released today suggest that it’s a positive and useful resource (Book-based therapy scheme is a success) – so successful in fact that Korean TV visited Victoria Library this week to talk to the Reading Agency and our very own librarian Nick about taking Books on Prescription to Korea!

You can browse the selection for yourself on the library catalogue:

Browse the 'Books on Prescription' selection

Browse the ‘Books on Prescription’ selection

From the same page you can also browse a great selection of Mood Boosting Books – uplifting titles including novels, poetry and non-fiction. The books are recommended by readers and reading groups around the country.

Browse the selection of Mood Boosting Books

Browse the selection of Mood Boosting Books

You are probably aware of the wide range of health-related events that are held regularly in Westminster Libraries – from free blood pressure checks to Q & A sessions about different conditions, from advice on healthy eating to fun dental health sessions for children. But as the report at the top of the post indicates, it’s not just attending health-related events that can have an impact on your mental health. Attending any library events (and we have a LOT!) can improve feelings of wellbeing. In fact, there is also evidence that improved literacy is linked to good health, so the Health Information Project is working closely with children’s Chatterbooks reading groups and other groups within libraries to support reading as a whole.

Have you heard about the Shared Reading Groups? We have a wide range of reading groups that you can join, from the traditional ‘read a book a month and discuss it’ style to groups focusing on comics or crime fiction. Shared reading groups have a slightly different style – there’s no set book, you don’t need to read it before you attend – just come along and listen to others read aloud, discuss (if you want) and enjoy the books (poetry, plays, novels), the company and the free tea and coffee!

We can help. Libraries are a great source of information, enjoyment, social interaction or space just to read and learn. Come in and spend some time, join in with an event or group, find a great book to read for escape or to find support with the stresses of life. These links may also help:

[Kate]

We will remember them

This week, Westminster City Council marked Armed Forces Week. On Monday a special flag was raised on the roof of City Hall on Victoria Street, on Tuesday the Military Covenant was signed…

Armed Forces exhibition June 2013

Having recently been awarded funding to stage a series of music workshops to commemorate the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, what better way for Westminster Music Library to start their project than by presenting an exhibition of some of our resources in City Hall during Armed Forces Week?

But what, you may ask, has music got to do with the armed forces, and in particular the First World War?

Most of us know that there were lots of popular songs written during this period – the First World War was a singing war, soldiers used songs to bond and to alleviate the stress and fears encountered at the front. They shared songs with each other at base camps, while marching, and on the front lines, songs such as It’s a long way to Tipperary, and Keep the home fires burning.*

Armed Forces exhibition June 2013

What many of us don’t realise is that a number of British composers played an active role during the First World War. Some of them were killed in action, and all of them were deeply affected by the horrors of war, a fact which was often reflected in the music they wrote.

Westminster Music Library wants to celebrate those “unsung heroes” and draw attention to their music. The exhibition gives a glimpse into a few of these composers [all following links are to Oxford Music Online – log in with your Westminster Library card number to gain access]:

George Butterworth who was awarded the Military Cross for his efforts in the army in the First World War and was killed by sniper fire in the Battle of the Somme, Edward Elgar, horrified at the prospect of the carnage, joined the Hampstead Volunteer Reserve of the army, Arthur Bliss who was with the 13th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, followed by service with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, wounded on the Somme in 1916 and gassed at Cambrai in 1918, Vaughan Williams served throughout as an artillery officer, Ivor Gurney –  the composer and poet – served with the Gloucestershire Regiment, he survived but spent the rest of his life in mental hospitals… there are many more.

We salute these men, just as Westminster acknowledges the crucial role played by the members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces; they are an integral part of Britain.


*Search our Song Index to locate the music to these and many other WW1 songs held at Westminster Music Library.

Email Westminster Music Library musiclibrary@westminster.gov.uk to find out more about our music workshops, supported using public funding by Arts Council England (due to start in September 2013 and ending in a summer school in August 2014).

[Ruth]