Celebration of Arts at Broadoak Unit

Mersey Care staff and volunteers joined musicians and dancers for a celebration of arts with patients at the Broadoak adult mental health unit in Broadgreen, Liverpool.

The event was held to mark the end of a therapeutic cultural programme for inpatients at the Broadoak Unit provided by Liverpool Philharmonic’s musicians in residence and professional dancers from Movema, in partnership with the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA).

At the celebration service users and staff did Irish dancing, waltzed, played drums and guitars, sang and remembered or composed songs. They also listened to award-winning Georgina Aasgaard, whose cello-playing has been one of many highlights of the musicians in residence programme.

Broadoak’s Occupational Therapist Sharon Buchanan said: “We decided to celebrate the time we have had with both organisations with a ceilidh to showcase their talents. It also provided an opportunity for service users to join in with the dancing or accompany cellist Georgina with percussion instruments.

“Normally we would hold separate dance and music sessions either in our activity rooms or on the wards, but sadly funding has come to an end so in our final week we wanted to finish on a high note with one big get-together.The event was well attended by service users from across the three wards at Broadoak and everyone really enjoyed the celebration session.”

Mersey Care has been working with Liverpool Philharmonic and LIPA-Movema since Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture Year in 2008, developing cultural engagement activities to support service users’ recovery. A number of future activities led by the Philharmonic will include ‘Living Music’ sessions once a month at the Philharmonic’s Music Room venue; ‘Super-Sing’ sessions at Life Rooms Walton and Southport; and access to watch specific concert rehearsals.

Attending the Broadoak event was two of Movema’s founding members Maria Malone and Pei Tong, along with the Philharmonic’s former lead musician in residence Georgina Aasgaard and volunteer chaplain at Mersey Care Sister Bridget Folkard, all pictured.

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Sister Bridget said: “Over the years the musicians and dancers have brought to patients and staff a truly incredible contribution of encouragement and strength to move forward with life, whatever its precariousness and struggles.

"I have been so privileged to share many of the sessions, seeing the miraculous effects of music and movement to those who often have no other language to say what they feel they have lost and still long for. Never can we underestimate the power of the arts within the human spirit, both to heal and to grow.”