Trainers’ Evaluation (Gr. 3)
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Trainers: Elly Goodman and Carly McCaig
1.1. Please explain how your workshops went
Overall the workshops were well received, and the group had put a lot of energy into making the puppets. The content kept the Women’s interest and they were keen to attend the sessions each week.
Dates: 18th/ 25th April / 2nd/ 9th/16th/23rd /30th May 2018
Venue: 218 Women’s service Glasgow
Participants (number and profile): 15 Women in a community custodial centre. Turning Point Scotland provides person-centred support to adults with a range of complex needs, they offer support services that address addiction, recovery, trauma, mental health, homelessness and social and criminal justice across Scotland.
The 218 Service is part of Turning Point Scotland and provides an alternative to custody for women in the criminal justice system. The service offers programmes of intensive support and group work to empower women to address the root causes of their offending. With a view to support them to break the cycle of offending which results in the ‘revolving door’ syndrome of maintaining their involvement in the criminal justice system and prison service.
The service offers a 12-bed residential unit and a community engagement service for women who still reside in the community. As many of the women who access the service have a wide range of mental and physical issues the service provides have integrated health team and psychological therapy team to address these. The service works with women aged 18 and over who have had criminal justice involvement in the last 12 months. Many of the women who are referred to the 218 Service will have a range of complex needs such as addiction, mental health, physical health, trauma, chronic low self-esteem and self-confidence as well as social isolation.
The women who are in residency at the service are supported and guided thorough an intensive recovery programme with a number of health care staff such as nurses and psychologists as well as staff to support and steer women through the recovery process.
1.2. According to your experience which were the strong points of the method that helped you in the workshops?
The introduction to paper and having permission to make something that could not go wrong. Having space and time to enjoy what was being made and seeing the journey progress from making to story development. Quick results were effective, so individuals could see the puppet form in a short space of time.
The process of making bonded the group and conversations flowed freely, people helped one another without being asked and there was a good sense of group unity.
The power of decision making from how the puppet evolved with its characteristics, to music choices. This was particularly important given that the group tend to struggle with decision making, especially within an arts context, which isn’t a regular part of their recovery process. The sense of completion and achievement was a crucial part of the method, also that the work had a tangible end goal.
1.3. According to your experience, what can be changed in the method to make it better (weak points)? What changes do you suggest?
I couldn’t introduce some of the Psycho Drama techniques as, in the time given, it felt like it would be inappropriate to explore aspects of the women’s personal lives, their choices and circumstances when they are already so vulnerable. They are already attending multiple groups and programmes to address their issues at the Centre. I also felt the puppet-making enabled a place of respite, where we could communally make something together and find the joy out of the creation and simple, yet effective storylines. We were able to offer stories that were an analogy or metaphor of their lives/hopes and dreams which did not specifically align to their own personal circumstances. We suggested ideas such as trying to run up a set of stairs, tripping and falling and not feeling fit or strong enough to achieve something, overcoming barriers and hurdles to finally getting to the top of the stairs and feeling like you could see something from a higher perspective. This simple analogy was a reflection on the journey of recovery from addiction. Once the group understood this they were able to embellish and develop the story.
2.1. How did they feel during the workshop and why?
They were absorbed in the making because they were given a task which had an end-point. The group were intrigued and fascinated by the possibilities of the puppet, how it moved and what it could communicate. Most people worked diligently and enjoyed laughing at their puppet and sharing their work with the rest of the group. There was a feeling of surprise that something positive had been achieved by using simple resources.
2.2. Which were the strong points of the workshop and why?
The making aspect because it brought a sense of community and conversation flowed throughout that process. It gave the women a moment of respite from their detoxification programme. They were able to discuss other subjects outside of the recovery forum. Meaningful conversations were shared from parenting, special occasions, fashion and styles, dreams of settling in a new home, sobriety and being part of the wider recovery network to embracing aging.
2.3. Which were the weak points of the workshop and why?
The decision making when developing a creating a story – decision making is difficult for the group, especially when they have just been administered their medication and felt the full effects which often made certain women feel drowsy and spaced out. The women who live at the centre have a raft of chronic problems, so it was a challenge to get them to decide on a story because they simply did not care. Or they weren’t in a stable place to explore aspects of their own character. They were happy with the puppet as it was a tangible object, they had a sense of ownership as they had made it. However, when we tried to further the creativity this for some, elicited fear, perhaps a sense of getting something wrong or no self-belief in their abilities.
2.4. Do they think the workshop needs any changes?
No, I think it’s got a frame work that can be adapted to suit the different group’s needs – the structure works well.
2.5. Do they think this workshop was useful for them?
Yes, it’s a departure from their normal work and routines, they’ve never seen anything like it before and I think they took a lot from the experience. It was important that the project was for them and their benefit.
2.6. Would they use the things they learned during the workshop?
They may remember the techniques and make a puppet with their children. I hope they will have self-belief in that they can achieve ambitious things in their lives. They may remember that they re-tapped into their creativity and gave themselves permission to play again.
2.7. Which sessions did they like most?
The making of the puppets and further embellishments with coloured string, choosing music tracks and piecing together the storylines physically when they worked together in small teams to rehearse.
2.8. Which were the sessions they didn’t like?
Thinking up the storyline and writing it up on paper – this brought a sense of fear and doubt into the workshop, perhaps it reminded them of school or felt exposing to their personal circumstances.
2.9. Additional comments
We noted that once we had the core idea of each story and wrote it up on a white board so that everyone could participate in the process, the Women became much more engaged and interactive. We also played a selection of tracks of music to complement each individual story and the Women were very clear what would work for them. The group dynamic was helpful in allaying the initial fear of developing a story.