At Made by Mortals, our work is all about human connection and creativity. We work with vulnerable adults and young people across Greater Manchester to create musical theatre, explore health and societal issues and give voices to all. During the coming months, social distancing as a response to COVID-19 will present a big challenge for in sustaining these connections. However, we are already inventing ways to meet that challenge. Enter, #ArmchairAdventures!
Social distancing and self-isolation are central to keeping our communities safe and limiting the effects of COVID-19, but we are well aware that a great deal of the burden of these necessary measures will fall on the most vulnerable. Our participants include over-70s as well as people with learning disabilities, mental health conditions. These groups are already at risk of social isolation and loneliness, we want to make sure this pandemic doesn’t to lead to more of it.
Our response – Armchair Adventures
We don’t want our participants to miss out on what, for many of them, is one of their only chances in the week to connect and create. Indeed, if anything, we’d like to bring that opportunity to more members of the community during this time. So, as a creative response to social-distancing we propose ‘Armchair Adventures’ – music and story-making workshops delivered remotely, via radio, phone and video-conferencing.
Using their 15 years’ experience of arts participation, Made by Mortals co-directors Paul Hine (theatre maker) and Andy Smith (composer) will devise accessible, interactive workshops that people can engage with remotely. This will include imaginative voice and body warm up exercises, drama and music games, singing songs, lyric writing, composing, percussion, discussion and debate, creative writing, movement and drama. An emphasis will be placed on fun, engagement and play. We will create opportunities for people to laugh, make connections and express themselves with purpose and with meaning. We believe this element of playfulness, expression and human interaction will be the key to helping people build resilience to and get respite from the current situation we all face.
How it will work
Our plan it to take over local radio station slots to deliver #ArmchairAdventures across the airways. We will also make use of video conferencing platforms (for those with this facility at home), telephone conference platforms and video streaming. We are working on devising methods for people to engage with the work via text, and (where safe/appropriate) social media too. Made By Mortals also will facilitate remote sharings and performances of people’s work and ensure that participants can connect with local audiences and receive appreciation and feedback.
These are uncertain times, so we don’t pretend to have every detail in place, but our approach has always been to be flexible and person-centered, and #ArmchairAdventures will be no exception. Co-developed with local people and health/social care professionals, these workshops will also be an opportunity for partner organisations to collect data, raise awareness and/or consult with vulnerable groups at this difficult time. We will also maintain ongoing engagement with participants, offering pathways into future activities once the threat of the virus has passed.
How do we achieve this?
Whilst Made By Mortals have the expertise to devise this programme and existing connections and recruitment pathways for participants, we do need your help. We have small amount of match funding but to reach as many people as possible and to make a significant impact on vulnerable people’s lives this programme needs to be properly resourced. If you’d like to help, you can donate via our justgiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/armchairadventures
But even if you can’t afford to contribute financially at this time, please share this blog and videos, and spread the work about #ArmchairAdventures so we can reach as many people as possible.
Together, we’ll help ensure social distancing doesn’t lead to social isolation.