Partnership working between Welsh Veterans Partnership and Re-Live, 2016-2017
Re-Live is an award-winning charity committed to reducing social exclusion through the provision of high quality arts activities. Re-Live’s work with military veterans and their families received an Arts and Health Practice Award from the Royal Society for Public Health in 2015.
In 2015 Re-Live were fortunate to meet Dave Price from Welsh Veterans Partnership. After a series of meetings and taster sessions, we began to explore the possibilities of working together with the shared aim of testing out a holistic approach to improving veterans and families’ wellbeing. We share an excitement and belief in the potential of the arts to help veterans and families with the complex process of transitioning to civilian life. Our work together to date through the Coming Home Project has demonstrated benefits in terms of improved emotional wellbeing and in reducing isolation for veterans and families. We are delighted to be working with an organisation of such integrity and optimism.
“I feel like I have a new family now. Before I joined this project I literally didn’t leave the house. I’d spend all day in bed or on the Xbox – I can’t believe the way my wife and I have been welcomed here.”
Highlights of our partnership working in 2016-17:
Coming Home Choir and Theatre based Groupwork based at Chapter, Cardiff
The weekly Coming Home Choir takes place at Chapter. Chapter is a welcoming community hub which provides an opportunity for veterans and families to engage with a civilian environment. This has been an important factor in our partnership work to date, in terms of breaking down the invisible barrier that exists for some military families around accessing “civilian services” and entering arts venues that they may not typically think of being open to them.
At Re-Live we have been consistently impressed with the ability of Welsh Veterans Partnership to reach and connect with veterans and family members who are extremely isolated and slowly, carefully help them rebuild their trust.
We have developed a system of co-working based on mutual respect and support, acknowledging the strengths of each organisation and the individuals involved.
We are delighted that some choir members now attend Chapter on a social basis and think of it as a place where they belong.
“This is the one place I can come where I know I won’t be judged. When I walk through that door a I can be myself and laugh, cry, sing in the company of friends.”
Wife of a veteran
Performance at Wales Millennium Centre, Mental Health Arts Festival
In Nov 2016, the Coming Home Company gave a sold out performance at WMC as part of the Welsh Mental Health Arts Festival. With courage and dignity the company shared their experiences of coming home from conflict through song and spoken word. The age range of performers onstage was 6 weeks to 89 years! Audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.
“Thank you for being brave enough to share your stories – I learned so much and felt ashamed that I knew so little about the issues you raised. Very powerful and moving – you deserve huge respect for speaking up” Audience Member, Cardiff
Performance at Dunkirk Memorial House, Taunton
In May 2017 Re-Live and Welsh Veterans Partnership supported choir members to travel to Dunkirk Memorial House, a British Legion Care Home in Taunton for veterans and families. We performed at their dementia wing and had a wonderful time!
“I have been with the Legion now for just over 18 months, and the trip on Friday was one of the biggest highlights of working for the Legion. I must admit that more than a few happy tears were shed when I witnessed the interaction between the choir and the residents. Younger veterans and community members coming together with the older veterans in the mutual appreciation of song, laughter and camaraderie.”
Jo Kelly, British Legion
Performance at Chapter, VIP guests including Stephen Doughty MP
We were recently joined at an informal performance at Chapter by representatives from Barnardo’s Families of Veterans Service, Combat Stress, Woody’s Lodge and British Legion as well as our local MP, Stephen Doughty. Partnership working in action!