Calderdale College in partnership with the Arch-Way Project provide opportunities for the College’s students to engage and assist the local community through a number of different projects. The partnership started over a year ago and aimed to bring the community together, instilling happiness to recreate a sense of community spirit and provide real hands-on experience for students across Calderdale.
The Arch-Way Project is a hub for the community and is simply a place where magic happens and the work carried out benefits all involved. Music is at the heart of the Arch-Way Project, whether it is listening to music while creating art or playing chess, making music, learning to perform, playing an instrument or planning/setting up a gig – music is what fuels this project and keeps it going. The College assists various projects within the Arch-Way Project which helps both young and old, with the youngest being a 9 year old girl who is on the autistic spectrum up to a 97 year old lady at risk of dementia and everyone in between.
On Monday afternoons a section of Arden Road Social Club, where the Arch-Way Project is based, is transformed into a 1950s nightclub which is opened up to the elderly and local care homes in the area, in particular those with dementia or at risk of dementia. The project hires a freelance singer who is also a former student of the College to perform popular hits from the 1960s – 1990s for the elderly to dance, sing and reminisce over. Music has a magical ability to take people back to special moments in time, back to who they used to be.
The directors of the Arch-Way Project found that the two factors which can speed up the process of dementia are loneliness and isolation. This project enables them to identify those at risk and allow them to come along and socialise. The magical project ‘Past Times’, funded by the NHS and known as a night out on a Monday afternoon works in conjunction with 25 Level 3 Health & Social Care students who attend every Monday to wait on, assist and talk to the elderly, helping them reminisce and relive happy memories.
This project provides over 60 residents from local care homes and the Almshouses the opportunity to socialise and have fun and aims to tackle and assist those with or at risk of dementia. This project not only benefits the local community, it also enables College students to gain weekly hands on experience to enable them to succeed in their future careers.
Last month, the College and the Arch-Way Project organised for female residents with dementia from the Almshouses in Halifax to attend a day of beauty. 13 ladies were treated to a day of pampering in the form of manicures, hand massages, facials as well as having their hair done by Hairdressing & Beauty students. After which they were waited on by Professional Cookery students who made and served a cream team in the College’s 1893 Bistro. The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all, the residents left feeling fabulous and the students feeling proud of the service they provided.
On Thursday afternoons 5 Health & Social Care Foundation Degree students assist members of the community who are struggling with mental health. The sessions, funded by the local authority consist of expression through art and music and the opportunity to talk and tackle their demons in a safe and secure environment.
The Arch-Way Project also provides 95 Music Students with the opportunity to practice in a space which is outside of the College, but close enough to walk to and from. The ‘Space to Performance’ concept, funded by the College’s Education Fund, gives students a space and a date to turn into a gig. Students are given the opportunity to undertake all aspects of organising a gig from looking after the publicity and setting up the stage and lighting to performing and cleaning up at the end of the night with an evaluation of how it went at the end. Students are also invited to help on high profile gig nights to learn from first class musicians. This project enables students to learn on the job and gain the experience needed to help them choose which musical path to pursue.
Due to the success of the partnership, the College is hoping to get involved in more projects which will allow more students to assist the local community while gaining invaluable hands on experience. The Arch-Way Project is hoping to expand the dementia and mental health projects and take them into the community, so more residents can experience the benefits that music has to offer and will be employing their first full time member of staff, also a College student, later this year.
In short, the partnership embodies what this award category is all about and enables the College to effectively engage with and assist the community, helping them to feel a sense of belonging, community spirit and happiness.