The Aberystwyth Living Well Group recently went on their first outing – a visit to The National Library of Wales, based here in Aberystwyth. All agreed it was well worth the trek up the hill! The group was given a behind the scenes tour, including information on how to access the collections, learning about triage and surgery in the conservation unit, then a tour of the latest ‘collecting’ exhibition in the library’s art gallery, upstairs. Everyone was impressed. One member said it was like being on holiday and appreciated the calm, atmosphere, describing the library as a serene, therapeutic space. Another member was fascinated by the techniques the conservators use to care for the collections, including washing paper and ancient manuscripts. If she’d known there were careers in this area when she was at school, she said then her life might have taken on a different direction.
The group wish to thank all the dedicated staff for sharing their time and knowledge. No doubt, some of us will be returning with our history detective hats on, as we seek out and submerge ourselves in pasts, both ancient and new. The Living Well Group supports people affected by cancer. As well as providing support and shared understanding, the group also offers opportunities to learn new skills and discover new interests. For members it’s often a respite from talking about health problems and being in and around more clinical environments. We meet every month at HAHAV’s Living Well Centre, Plas Antaron, with guest speakers, activities, and visits to places of interest. If you would like to join the group, then call Susie on 01970 611 550. Upcoming activities, include a visit to Ynyslas National Nature Reserve, a photography workshop, and a gong bath experience, using healing sounds to soothe and relax.
Blog post by Susie Scott
I have an incurable illness, there I said it. A year ago, I thought I’d reached the stage where I could handle life’s stresses and strains, then I was hit with it – brain cancer. Prognosis, terminal. At work, I’d been asked to organise a series of spirituality discussion groups, it didn’t appeal. Not because I don’t have a faith or belief, or that I am not curious to engage in philosophical discussions about life and death, but because, I’m afraid. In the last 12 months fear is my constant companion. It stalks me, eats into my little moments of respite and joy. I scream and shout at it. Go away, don’t darken what’s left.
Then I found myself, sitting down in a small group at HAHAV’s Living Well Centre and being asked to talk about my funeral play list. Normally in a café I’m asked semi, soya, or full-fat milk with my coffee. I really didn’t want to say anything, but I started talking, thinking about songs which meant something to me and those, that I felt would mean something to my little community. If this was to be my final performance, then I realised I wanted some input into it. Songs, Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I never can say goodbye’, a Saturday Night fever disco floor under the box, Petula’s ‘Downtown’, the theme tune to my shopping trips with my niece and Elvis Costello’s ‘I want you’ to mark the passions, failed and successful in my life, and a scattering of ashes on the sea – my last surf. It felt weird, surreal but also strangely comforting to begin to talk about my last wishes. To think about words and the legacy that will be me. I haven’t changed the word, I’m no crusader but I know I have been loved and that is perhaps the greatest gift of all. This should all feel heavy, but I felt lighter and braver with every comment, insight I shared with the group. I was with strangers in perhaps the kindest café I have known, bonded by a sense of humanity, and understanding. Sounds pretentious? No, it was grounding and very special. So, anyone out there I encourage you to give it a go, whether you’re close to the sell by date, a carer, or just someone who has been quietly thinking about life and its endings.
Our next café is on 13 December, 11.30-1.00pm. And yes, there is coffee and soup!
The Aberystwyth Living Well Group met for the first time since lockdown this month. The group which is open to anyone living in Ceredigion with cancer, welcomed new organiser volunteers, June Parry and Gael Hewitt, who are busy organising a packed programme of activities and speakers for the next 12 months.
The first meeting back saw members ‘paint a hug’ as Sian Abbott, a potter from New Quay came in with some hug and country mugs for everyone to decorate. Sian said all the designs were very professional and once glazed, the group will be using them for their coffees at the next meetng which takes place on Tuesday, October 5, between 10.30-12.30.
For more information about Living Well contact Susie on: 01970 611 550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Following our successful online and face-to-face activities over the summer, we are delighted to announce our Autumn programme, which includes Afternoon Tea at Plas Antaron – a new weekly Dementia Café for Aberystwyth, a new Macmillan Living Well Group for people affected by cancer, a new art drop-in activity called Crafty Fridays and in October we’ll be launching our first Spirituality discussion group. There’s more in store, so watch out for more announcements in 2021 and keep an eye on our Events Calendar.
We’re also interested in hearing your ideas and suggestions for future activities and groups. Get in touch with Susie, our Services Coordinator by emailing email@example.com or call us on 01970 611 550
Amelia and Gwen were interviewed on Radio Aber as part of their coverage of Volunteers’ Week 2021. Amelia highlights the amazing work HAHAV’s volunteers do, supporting clients week in, week out. Gwen explains our new bereavement service, and the importance of offering bilingual services for clients who prefer to speak Welsh.
Radio Aber have posted a recording of the interview which you can listen to by clicking here.
HAHAV is excited to launch our new online services. Thanks to generous funding from the National Lottery’s Community Fund, we have been working to develop our new website and YouTube channel, which we hope will help to explain what we do and how we sit within the range of palliative care services available in Ceredigion. We’re also making accessing our services easier than ever, with simple new online forms for clients and healthcare professionals to make referrals.
Our new website features an Events Calendar that shows you our schedule of activities – including virtual and face-to-face events, workshops and group activities. In May and June, we’ll be hosting a Creative Writing workshop hosted by writer, Jacqueline Yallop and 6 Movement Therapy sessions with Matilda Tonkin Wells, Dance Artist and Movement Psychotherapist. Places are still available and you can book yours on our What’s On page.
Earlier in March, we caught up with two of our brilliant volunteers, Dai and Sue, to ask them about the kind of work they do with our Companionship and Help service. We filmed the videos in the garden at Plas Antaron over two different days, hence the sun is shining for Dai, but sadly not for Sue! They talk about how rewarding the work is and how much it is valued by their clients; also the frustrations they have been working through due to COVID-19 restrictions.
HAHAV has been awarded £54,700 by the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA). The funding is part of the Welsh Government’s Third Sector Resilience Fund in the wake of the COVID pandemic. It will see two full time staff help establish HAHAV’s new day centre at Plas Antaron, Penparcau.
A Facilities Manager will coordinate activities at the centre and a Fundraiser will work to ensure a sustainable future for the charity and help develop its plans.
Commenting Dr Axford said, “This great news comes at a pivotal time as hopefully we gradually emerge from COVID restrictions. There is huge demand for support services by our volunteers, plus day respite for patients and carers. Undoubtedly there will be a backlog of new cases to come. Our plans for Plas Antaron have been seriously affected by lockdown and our main income from HAHAV’s shop has been drastically reduced this year. We are therefore very grateful for financial support via the WCVA to help accelerate the opening of our exciting new centre later this year.”
Glangwili Pulmonary Rehabilitation Team ran a six-week service for clients in February and March this year, using the spacious function room at HAHAV Plas Antaron and were linked to a second group running remotely group via Microsoft Teams and using HAHAV’s videoconferencing facilities. This amazing service and innovative service has been enormously beneficial to patients. Watch a short film about their work here: