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AHSW's Director, Trustees, and Members reflect on various aspects of arts, health and wellbeing.

Physical Postcards: Connecting the Digitally Disconnected with Dance

AHSW Member Lisa Townsend, Project Manager of Dance Centred, shares reflections on their 12-week programme ‘Physical Postcards’, and how it was developed.

Physical Postcards – connecting the Digitally Disconnected with dance.

If you are reading this article, the chances are you are familiar with accessing your information digitally. You may have been one of millions who, over the course of the pandemic, have been thankful to find opportunities to keep fit and active over the internet.

But this hasn’t been the case for everyone.

Did you know that over 40% of adults in the UK live with one or more long standing health conditions? This group has been identified by Sport England as being twice as likely to be inactive. And thanks to the research of the #WeAreUndefeatable campaign they estimate that 1 in 5 people who have long term health conditions are also digitally excluded. This means they don’t have the digital equipment or the skills needed to access the benefits of the internet.

Image of people dancing

In the midst of the pandemic Dance Centred, a Cornish community interest dance company found themselves weighing up their options. The company is recognised across Cornwall and the South West for creating wonderfully imaginative participatory projects that respond to social need and demand. But face to face dancing was no longer an option. Their response to the impact of COVID and the barriers to dance came in the form of Physical Postcards.

Physical Postcards was originally founded by Dance Director Lois Taylor, alongside Sarah Fairhall and Gemma Kempthorne. It began as a creative way of sharing simple and short messages through dance and was filmed in wild Cornish landscapes.

Lois and fellow Dance Centred Director Sam Lawrence have taken the original idea of Physical Postcards and developed it into a 12-week postal programme. The fun and colourful cards help people keep active and moving. They include creative dance and movement ideas explained through fun images and helpful text, that can be done seated or standing. Since summer 2020 it’s supported 1532 residents, mostly in the South West with a further 1000 planned for Cornwall this Winter.

Kitchen Swing Poster  Kitchen Swing Poster 2

Let me explain how it works.

Thanks to the fantastic investment from Public Health Cornwall, Dance Centered are able to offer this wonderful programme, through the post, completely free of charge. Lois and Sam work with our Illustrator Mel Chadwick to translate their dance ideas into the postcard design. For our 2022 Winter project they are working with Macmillan Cancer Support team in Cornwall and The Alzheimers Society to make the design, content and language of the cards more inclusive and representative. The overwhelming feedback we get from participants is that receiving Physical Postcards motivates them to be more active, helps them feel more confident moving around, and has a positive effect on both their mental and physical health.

“I have experienced the most amazing conversations with people who phone us to sign up. They are often living in incredibly tough circumstances but as we talk I feel their sense of optimism and hope shining through.” – Lois Taylor, Dance Centred Director

 

“There have been some moving and memorable conversations. Connecting with people all across the county who feel isolated or are struggling to keep active and having something positive to offer feels very powerful. We couldn’t do this project without the county-wide support and help from 100’s of community group leaders, organisations, experts and social prescribers. We want to keep spreading the word about this special project and hope others will help us too.” – Sam Lawrence, Dance Centred Director

Written by Lisa Townsend

Project Manager, Dance Centred, and AHSW Member

Image of people dancing

If you would like to submit a Members Story, get in touch! Email Hannah at info[at]ahsw.org.uk.

 

Dance Centred are looking for new partnerships and collaborations as they expand the Physical Postcard project out of Cornwall and across the South West. If you would like to start a conversation about how the project could benefit your community then please contact them physicalpostcards[at]dancecentred.co.uk

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