Gig Buddies knock on wood!

23 May 2019

We are standing outside the visitor reception about to embark upon an ‘Immersion in Nature’ therapeutic outdoor workshop aimed at enabling vulnerable groups to access the wonderful surroundings of Sheffield Park and Gardens. Emily, our new Project coordinator for gig buddies has invited us along as she will be leading the workshop with Malik – they are co founders of Unite the Beat.

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Photo: Chloe (left) and Elsie enjoying the workshop in the woods!

A vibrant and characterful older lady has just mistaken one of our transgender participants as a male.  The participant in question suffers from anxiety and informed us on the way out that she has not left central Brighton or been in nature for over 10 years.

After a few moments of hesitation, Chloe informs the lady that she actually identifies as a woman and is in the process of transitioning.  A short discussion takes place in which the older lady asks why she would want to do that and Chloe explains her reasons.  Within moments, the two women are now exclaiming that they are united by their gender and enjoying the sisterhood this has bought them.

Our advisory group ‘the storm and thunder team’ are used to having meetings in unusual places. We also like to combine our meetings with a creative activity and try new things– previous months have included visits to art exhibitions, taking part in a rap workshop and film making. However, we have never been invited to a day out in the woods to forage for natural sounds! We arrived at the perfect time to see the Spring bluebells.

Emily and Malik along with the participants prepared 8 hammocks in the middle of the woods for us to lie in and look up at the towering trees.

Chloe said “I liked setting up the hammocks myself, it was nice to not just do the relaxing and therapy side of it but to put the hammocks up with Emily and be part of it properly”

“Being in the hammocks made me feel good and I wasn’t thinking about anything bad. I was thinking about the future and what I could do like learning to drive again”

On the way home in the car having explored, laughed, played rhythms and pottered our way around the gardens and woodland area, we take it all in.  Chloe, who often does not leave her house for days has just stated that she might start learning to drive again so that she can have some independence and get out into the countryside.  A heartwarming day, feeling such gratitude for the work we do and for the National Trust in having funded this mini-series.  Unite the Beat will be doing more workshops this summer.

Chloe said “I wouldn’t change anything about the workshop except it could be longer and we could maybe stay the night camping, not in a tent but in a hammock!”

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