Knowing Me

The Knowing Me group was a 6 week programme which gave people with learning disabilities or other long term conditions the skills and confidence to speak out and tell their story. The course helped people to be able to speak out, gain confidence, meet others and share their experiences.

You are the expert in your life and the more people who know about your life, including the people who make decisions about services, the better.

The course explored topics such as communication skills, communication tools, and group work promoting peer support and emphasising the importance of your story.

Knowing Me, Dementia Conference poster

Get Set & Go

Get Set & Go was about helping younger people with additional support needs to explore the skills and information needed for moving on from school. The course explored topics such as; Advocacy, Self-Directed Support, Health and Wellbeing, Life Skills, Pedometer Challenge, and how these topics can have a positive impact on their lives. The skills they learned in the classroom were then taken out onto the sporting arena, where they were reinforced through playing football, athletics, and a range of other sports.

Targets for the course were:

  • Improved awareness and understanding of Self Directed Support
  • Improved awareness and understanding of Advocacy
  • Improved health and wellbeing
  • Improved decision making skills
  • Improved confidence
Get Set & Go at Merkland football pitch

Get Onside

As part of the Shine Partnership, Ceartas has been working alongside Heartfelt Ltd to deliver the Get Onside programme.

The aim of Get Onside is to help give confidence to those who currently passively receive social work services to become more involved in actively determining what those services are. At the heart of this project is the promotion of Self Directed Support and to better inform people of their rights under the current legislation.

Each project takes place once per week and runs for a 7 week period, and is essentially a ‘game of two halves’.

Broadwood squad

The first half of the session is in the boardroom, where individuals talk and get involved in activities related to a number of key themes including: Decision Making, Taking Control, Choice, Advocacy and What Makes a Better Life.

The second half of the session is out on the playing field, where participants work both individually and as part of a team in activities which are designed to reinforce some of the key themes, skills and learning which takes place in the boardroom.

To date, the Shine Partnership has ran Get Onside across Scotland in areas such as East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, East Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, and Edinburgh. Get Onside has also reached as far as the Channel Islands, with a visit to Jersey.

The predominant sport featured on the course has been football but have also trialled cricket and rugby, during the Rugby World Cup towards the end of 2015.

Creative Writing

Thanks to generous funding from Big Lottery Scotland, Investing in Ideas, we were able to employ a Writer in Residence to facilitate an 8 week creative writing programme for people who have used the services of Ceartas.

We were delighted that our dream of offering a Creative Writing Course was about to become a reality. We already knew that there was a keen interest in this area, as in 2016, with financial support from Live Literature, we ran a pilot one day course and the response from those attending was overwhelmingly positive. Many individuals who seek advocacy only do so when all other routes have been exhausted. Many feel disempowered, voiceless and personally deconstructed. If independent advocacy is about ensuring individuals have a voice then what better way to assist that process than using creative writing as a means of providing an outlet for that voice. There are so many labels attached and assumptions made about people living with long term conditions; many face stigma and discrimination as part of their daily lives; they are often denied a voice or lack the confidence to use their voice and speak up for themselves.

Robert, signing the finished publication

Words are a powerful tool for us all, yet for some individuals who use our service, they lack the confidence in using words, in using their voices to be heard never mind having the opportunity to explore the use of creative writing to enhance their wellbeing, developing their skills or telling their stories. Words and language are important, we need them to tell others what we want and how we want to be treated; we need them to ensure our needs are met and that we are able to connect with others; words can inform our mind, caress and comfort our feelings; excite and thrill our spirit or warm and kindle the flame of our hearts. We all have a voice and we all have stories to tell. Members of the group came along to try something new but with little belief that they could tell or write their stories. Participants were not only given the opportunity to learn some of the skills used by writers but they also learned and understood that they too had a voice and that they too had stories to be written and told. They came together to support, encourage and learn from each other and in the process created some powerful pieces of work and have been motivated to start to tell their own stories.

We were proud to be a part of this group; we took part alongside members with no distinction between staff and service users; we were all learning and enjoying together. It was encouraging and inspirational; we had the opportunity as a group to find out about each other away from the daily stresses and strains of everyday life. We laughed, and probably almost cried at times over the 8 weeks as we all learned different ways in which to use our voices and tell our stories. Ceartas feel incredibly proud of the work and commitment shown by members of the group; we have been inspired to explore further how we can use stories, poems and creativity to ensure that the voices of the individuals we advocate for are heard and we are incredibly proud that each and every one of the participants can now consider themselves published writers. The result of the eight week programme is the inspirational anthology, “I am…” which brings together the voices of the group.