Case Study: Creative English Sessions improving mental health and wellbeing
The Creative English team run sessions for people with little or no English to build their confidence and language skills for everyday situations like talking to neighbours, doctors, teachers, shop assistants and landlords. The isolation which can occur when you move away from familiar support networks, combined with the feelings of disempowerment when you can’t do the things you need to look after yourself and your family can have a very negative effect on mental health, especially if it is long term, and many Creative English participants have been referred to the programme because of the positive impact it has on well-being. Being part of a fun, friendly community while building your skills makes a huge difference.
When the corona virus crisis started, we knew this support couldn’t stop, so we moved sessions online, adapting the content to support people in the current context, exploring subjects like home schooling and attending a doctor’s appointment online. We also developed a number of sessions which explicitly focussed on improving mental health and well-being, covering the 5 Ways to Well-being. We found ways to laugh and connect with one another despite having to do it over a screen. A participant explained: "I feel sad at home. But Zoom class make me happy. I see smiling faces. I miss my friends. This is good because it's not just 'learn words', 'learn grammar'. It's people I miss!" Another explained, “Sometimes my heart cry[s] because I [am] alone with children and virus [is] everywhere. But this class [is] something good. It make[s] me think something different. It’s family.”
During lockdown, we also provided daily challenges so families and individuals could have something positive to do and interact with others about during the lockdown. These included silly games, encouragements to make the most of the permitted daily walk, opportunities to be thankful and notice new things in the natural world around them.
Volunteers kept in touch with those without digital access by phone; helped individuals get online; and helped sign post individuals to emergency support if they needed it.
We’re excited that covid-secure sessions are starting again in person, as well as continuing on zoom, so everyone can find a place of connection in the way they most feel comfortable. For more information, see www.creative-english.org.uk