By Leah Conway –
‘Breathing Space’ is an initiative running across Kirklees that uses arts and music to work with people living with dementia.
The project is run by hoot creative arts and aims to highlight the link between creativity, music and dementia and is linked with the Kirklees Year of Music 2023.
The specialised project is supported by Kirklees Council and Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
While the ‘Breathing Space’ initiative is not a new one having been established back in 2009, together the organisations are encouraging more people across Kirklees to attend the sessions.
The sessions offer free creative activities to people living with the early stages of dementia or memory concerns, their carers or family members.
A host of experienced artists deliver the activities, they aim to increase engagement, make participation fun, stimulating and uplifting
Skilled and experienced artists design and deliver the activities and strive to make participation a, stimulating, enlightening and uplifting experience for all involved.
The sessions provide a safe space for people to shed labels such as “carer” and “cared for” and have fun through creativity. The sessions also aim to encourage positive relationships, build confidence and enhance the wellbeing of all the participants.
“Getting together, having fun, sharing stories”
Moira Wade, Older People’s Lead and Breathing Space Project Manager at hoot creative arts said: “Breathing Space music sessions take a variety of formats and the focus is on what’s possible, on getting together, having fun, sharing stories and sometimes creating something unique together.
“The sessions have included African Djembe drumming and making and playing the kazoos and more recently, playing familiar songs through a speaker to stimulate memory and recollection and encouraging participants to join with voice, instruments and requests.
“In other sessions, the group compose, sing and record a unique song. The artist will usually take a theme, such as colours, holidays or the weather and facilitates the group in conversation and reminiscence. They will note down keywords and phrases and then with the participants, shape the words into a song and create a tune to fit.
“Once they are happy, instruments will be added, the song recorded and everyone is given a copy. As well as having fun, participants express pride in their achievement and some tell us that they remember the words of their songs from week to week, whilst being unable to remember what they watched on TV the previous evening.”
Kirklees Year of Music 2023
The approaching Year of Music in Kirklees in 2023 has inspired hoot to create connections between music and its benefits to those living with dementia.
It will explore the role of music and creativity in relation to people’s wellbeing as a means of comfort, inspiration and memories. Studies have also shown that music can help reduce anxiety and blood pressure
Further studies revealed that therapeutic music activities reduced feelings of agitation and the need for medication in 67% of people with dementia.
The Breathing Space project provides a safe space to explore the benefits of music therapy and runs on most Mondays throughout the year.
In Huddersfield, there are sessions on Mondays between 10:30 am – 12:30 pm at hoot creative arts’ building which is located at Bates Mill, Milford Street, Huddersfield HD1 3DX.
Additionally, sessions are run in Batley every Monday from 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm at Batley Community Centre, Upper Commercial Street, Batley WF17 5DH. Both venues are accessible.
A simple way to sign up or to send any queries is through hoot’s website. To sign up or enquire on someone else’s behalf the quickest way is on hoot’s website using the online here.
Read more: A step towards inclusivity with new Kirklees Dementia-Friendly Design Toolkit
“Give it a go and see what happens”
Moira Wade added: “We believe that having dementia doesn’t stop you from enjoying new challenges and learning new things given the opportunity and the right approach.
“We are big believers in having fun; there’s no pressure or expectation for you to do anything that you don’t want to do. You don’t need any previous experience or creative confidence to be involved, just a willingness to give it a go and see what happens.
“My passion for engaging with people living with dementia developed from my experience with my mum who lived with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. We shared some lovely special times together singing and listening to music. I want other people to be able to experience the many and varied benefits of sharing quality creative time together.”