Now that lockdown has finally begun to lift, we felt that it was time to start some in-person activities with our Take Charge participants. Our first in-person group activity was a group map reading and spotting walk around Ynysandharad Park. This was thoroughly planned with a recce and a risk assessment beforehand to ensure the activity could be as safe and accessible as possible. There was a lot to think about when planning our first in-person group session since the pandemic began.
Alongside our usual accessibility requirements, such as wheelchair accessibility and easy access by public transport, we needed to make sure our session was as Covid-safe as possible. All of our staff have been following the Skills and Wellbeing’s Covid policies. We have also made sure our participants complete our accessible ‘Covid Training’ session to prepare them for returning to in-person activities. It is of vital importance that the Skills and Wellbeing team do everything they can to ensure our participants are kept as safe as possible. Take Charge is able to provide these accessible, safe activities which are so important for our participants, many of which are vulnerable to severe illness if they were to contract Covid-19.
With these things in mind we chose to hold our activity in Ynysangharad War Memorial Park in Pontypridd town centre. We started the activity by introducing everyone to each other to try and ease any nervousness our participants may have had as for the majority of them it had been a while since they had met any new people and, like the rest of us, they may have felt a little out of practise! Focusing on our wellbeing has been especially important since the pandemic began; people have been spending a great deal of time isolated at home.
The activity included a spotting sheet which had the added benefit of improving our participants’ wellbeing as well. It allowed them the opportunity to focus on their surroundings in more detail. Mindfulness has been shown to have a really positive impact on mental health and this was a good way to introduce our participants to the concept. It has been really beneficial for our participants to get out of the house meeting new people and into nature as these things are all essential when it comes to improving our wellbeing. Take Charge provides the specialist support our participants need to be able to try new things like mindfulness in a safe, accessible way.
We then talked about the map on the front of their sheet and the spotting activity. These activities proved very enjoyable and our participants hadn’t tried map reading before so it was a new work-related skill for them to practise. The map-reading activity proved to be a fun opportunity for our participants to improve their observational, teamwork and counting skills which are all essential in the working world. Without Take Charge, our participants wouldn’t have had the opportunity to try a new skill such as this.
This activity also allowed our participants to learn more about their local community. We stopped by various sites and monuments to discuss why they were important to us. These included a graffiti art wall with a Pontypridd theme which had images we could all recognise.
This led to a really positive discussion on what our community means to us which is exactly the kind discussion the Skills and Wellbeing team are keen to facilitate.
Ynysangharad park also contains various memorial monuments including the miners’ memorial, the war memorial and a statue of the authors of the Welsh National Anthem, ‘Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’. Our participants learned a lot about the local area through this activity and why it is important that we remember these groups of people. This project has provided the opportunity for the residents of Rhondda Cynon Taf to learn more about their history and culture. It’s important that we are all aware of these things as well as being able to learn about others’.
We held this session twice as it was so popular and we wanted to give all of our participants the opportunity to take part. This activity was successful for so many of our participants in terms of improving wellbeing and enabling people to learn a wide range of work-related skills which will enable them to achieve their goals of finding volunteering or further learning.