Our community programme has been in the spotlight recently thanks to our nomination in the National Lottery Good Causes Awards. We were really pleased to see our work with special needs groups across the region featured on ‘The One Show.’
The community outreach programme as it is today started was started in 2006 by Trevor Sapey, Community Learning Officer. The very first visit was to the Portsmouth Dysphasia Group. Handling real and replica artefacts was a huge hit with group members and a second visit was arranged. The story of the Mary Rose appeals to both men and women and elements of everyday life on board are easy to relate to which encourages communication. The success of the outreach sessions and enthusiasm of members led to a visit to the museum being arranged for group members and their carers.
The benefit to stroke survivors was so great that word soon spread and this model of outreach visits followed by a museum visit has been taken up by many more groups. Since the programme began thousands of stroke survivors and their carers have enjoyed these sessions. Feedback has been unanimously excellent. Salisbury Stroke Club said: “What a terrific morning. You are a really great communicator and I never see the Club members engage quite as much as they do when you come to the group. I hope I can bring them all down to Portsmouth next year.” Hove Stroke Association: ‘It was a very enjoyable, interesting and polished performance. Everyone has spoken very highly of the talk and it makes us feel like making the effort to visit the museum in Portsmouth.’
In Southampton, a class of student doctors attended a session. They saw for themselves the breakthroughs such hands-on history sessions can provide during patients’ rehabilitation.
Trevor said: “It’s amazing how the story of the Mary Rose touches people. The carers have been amazed how interested people are in the artefacts and it gives them something different to discuss both in the group and at home afterwards. We’ve seen real breakthroughs – people talking for the first time since their stroke. It’s great to see them go on to visit the museum (sometimes their first trip out since a stroke) or even volunteer with us. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job.”
Trevor has also been working with individual stroke group members with a particular interest in history or ships on a one-to-one basis in the museum. He begins with coffee and a chat then takes stroke patients into the museum to look at the displays to stimulate interest and discussion. Interaction with volunteers and staff is important. Trevor facilitates this contact which helps patients gain confidence in communication in a safe environment. He then reports back on progress. The manager of the programme wrote to say: “Thank you so much, you are worth every penny…what you did was perfect… talking to strangers and asking questions is excellent. I am so happy to hear that you can see an improvement.”
Recently, we met a speech therapist from Maryland, USA, who was visiting the museum as one of her patients is very interested in the Mary Rose. On hearing the story, we managed to rustle up some resources, including postcards and a replica wooden spoon for her to take back home. We were very pleased to hear positive news from her this week: “Thank you so much for the materials you gave me to work with my speech therapy patient. He lost his speech due to a stroke. His enthusiasm for the Mary Rose project gave him the extra motivation to work hard in therapy. For example – the recovered spoon – we used to practice sp-blends. He mastered them quickly and it made therapy much more interesting.”
It’s great to know that the Mary Rose is helping people on both sides of the Atlantic!
The last chance to vote for us in the National Lottery Good Causes is midnight 23 July. Simply follow this link: http://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/project/mary-rose-museum-0 Press vote, enter your email address and confirm your vote.