As part of its Desistance Project – “Seeing Beyond the Risk” – Wirral CRC staff again held a Desistance Christmas, including producing our own design Christmas cards for service users, a toy appeal for families, and a fundraising prize draw for staff. The draw raised a healthy sum towards providing refreshments in the reception area, or to fund other service user needs that might not otherwise be possible, and the toys are being distributed to various families. We also had a lunchtime of Mince Pies, Soft Drinks and Carol Singing for service users, with the high spot of a first public performance by Wirral’s Ukulele All Stars.
Staff took up the challenge (The Great Wirral Uke Up) to learn to play the ukulele in just three weeks, and to perform a song in time for Christmas. None had previous experience in playing, but they learned not one song, but two; Silent Night and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Everybody enjoyed themselves, and several members have now put a ukulele on their Christmas present list. The greater success of the venture was a demonstration of people’s ability to learn new skills, and to do things that for years you’ve been told you can’t do – whether you’re a member of staff or a service user. Musical performance promotes definable skills, using manual dexterity, developing muscle memory and a sense of rhythm (mathematical skills), as well as the social benefits of shared learning, working together, and developing support networks. Many of the group spoke of a sense of joy in learning and the satisfaction of a great performance (I’m trying hard not to say it’s been a journey), and we hope to be able to carry in the new year.
It is hoped that service users will be involved in a similar venture in the future.