The last two years have been challenging for all. The pandemic increased the number of people who died in Northern Ireland. It disrupted the funerals of those who died from other causes and how we could grieve. It impacted how care could be offered. It created all sorts of losses big and small in people’s lives. It brought what really matters to people into sharp focus.
Advance Care Planning Seed Grants have been awarded to support creative projects in the community which encourage people to start conversations about their future wishes, now.
The new Seed Grant programme will support fifteen creative responses from communities across Northern Ireland seeking to reflect on their experience of the pandemic, and plan ahead.
The ambition is for people to find out more and normalise conversations about Advance Care Planning.
What is most important to us? How can those things most vital to us remain central to our lives?
Corrina Grimes Regional Advance Care Planning Lead said
“The pandemic has heightened our sense that personal situations can change quickly. While progressing the draft Policy on Advance Care Planning we often heard where people had planned ahead, that this had alleviated anxiety at end of life. Sadly, there was also the experiences of people who hadn’t had conversations that had extra distress in difficult times. The Seed Grants offer people and communities an opportunity to explore how they might start planning now”
“People use creativity and the arts to make meaning, or make space where difficult things such as dying, death and bereavement can be explored. The potential of the arts and creativity to encourage meaningful conversation has been known for centuries. How can we use this now to help us plan ahead?” Dominic Campbell, Arts & Cultural Advisor.
The announcement of the successful grantees by Health minister Robin Swann follows the end of a consultation on the draft Advance Care Planning policy for Northern Ireland on 11 March.
The draft policy provides a framework for adults (aged 18 years and over), to have greater choice and control over decisions relating to personal, legal, clinical, and financial matters, from creating a will to organ donation.
The 16 awardees across Northern Ireland include:
St Mary’s Primary School
Pupils aged 4 to 11 from the Stewartstown school will make clay models around the theme of “a moment in time” leading to an exhibition inviting the school’s community to reflect on what makes us happy at this moment in time.
Ligoniel Improvement Association
Ligoniel Improvement Association in Belfast has been working to support a flourishing community since 1974 and will use the grant to make a reflective garden to provide a haven of tranquillity for quiet moments in busy lives.
Laurencetown, Lenaderg & Tullylish Community Association (LLTCA)
LLTCA is seeking to give voice to their community through digital portraits of residents reflecting on what matters to them. These will be shared at local events and online to encourage wider conversations.
Brain Injury Matters
The charity, which supports, promotes and empowers people living with acquired brain injury, will work with street artist DMC to promote awareness and understanding.
Tamnamore Community Development Association
The rural community group, which includes many carers, will use craft and conversation to explore issues and awareness of Advance Care Planning in a project called CARES.
Compassionate Communities North West
Compassionate Communities is a public health approach to palliative and end of life care. Its mission is to improve the end of life and death experiences for everyone. The project will build on their Death Positive Library initiative to include Advance Care Planning.
Ulster University’s School of Nursing and Belfast School of Art
The School of Nursing and Belfast School of Art will work together to explore the importance of thinking about and planning for the future, irrespective of age and health status, with young adults. The first step of this is increasing awareness and engagement.
South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
Lecalle Ladies Social Group will work with an artist, exploring the issues of Advance Care Planning by reflecting on the highs and lows of the last two years and identifying future hopes and wishes by collectively making a large copper artwork with words and symbols meaningful to the women.
The project will use photography to tell stories that create dialogue, working with young people age 16 to 17 to explore hope, opportunity, power and education. They will create personal stories told through pictures and an online exhibition to articulate what matters to them.
St Mary’s Parent Teacher Association
The Cushendall School PTA will explore through the arts how their school community overcame covid articulating how what matters most came to be most important, through positive and meaningful dialogue.
The group works to support people to make positive changes and achieve personal goals. Its project “Exploring the Cyle of Nature and Life” through personalised window boxes offers a way to encourage reflection on Advance Care Planning.
South West Age Partnership
Network for older people representing 60 smaller groups across Fermanagh and Omagh will develop “Junk Journals” as time capsules for their own story to encourage reflection on life.
Northern Ireland's only specialist sexual trauma charity will lead four creative writing workshops with the support of a counsellor, helping attendees feel more in control of their lives and ready to shape them as they see fit. The workshops will encourage participants to think about the priorities in their life and what they want to focus on in the future.
Strabane Community Project
The project will tackle broad health and wellbeing issues through facilitated sessions reflecting on the pandemic, leading to a collage, that reflects back to its community what matters in times of crisis.
ARC Healthy Living Centre
ARC responds to the needs of its local community. It will generate community conversations around healthy dying through an all ages event for the Irvinestown/Lisnarick Community Partnership inviting people to engage with a game called ‘ Hello’ which opens up discussions about things that may be difficult to talk about yet liberating to consider.
Woodgreen Health Care
Woodgreen Health Care Seed grant will support creativity as a building block to enhance the lives of residents as they settle into new accommodation in Willow Tree Lodge, while upskilling staff to explore how the self expression of those in our care can be an articulate means of approaching Advance Care Planning.