Jessica Broadbent, who graduated in 2012 from Kings College London, was keen to use her literature degree and other art interests to help people with dementia. Both her grandfathers had varieties of the condition. Jess volunteered at poetry, media at the Museum of Brands, dance, observed improvisation at the Central and has been helping with the LAC programme and evaluation.
“The first poetry session I felt very emotional as we left. You gain such a sense of respect for the participants. It’s enlightening because we have such sustained conversations, which help you to see them as individuals. As she herself helped participants, Jessica found it “very rewarding”to witness their reaction at the end of an exercise.
The rare challenge to develop marketing ideas at the Museum of Brands struck Jess as especially engaging. “Creating sound effects for the radio advert with musical instruments we just had so much fun. Everyone was laughing. They put themselves out there and created something good. They worked very well as groups, worked together, which I don’t think I’d seen before. They chatted more to each other, bouncing ideas off each other because it was so creative.” Here she witnessed the value of silence, how eye contact and quiet enabled a participant to process her creative vision for a television advertisement, restoring confidence.
She enjoyed the Rambert dance studio where, as she had had dance training, she was able to give support to a participant whose arthritis affected her balance. Where I could help was if one had a problem with balance I could give support.
What surprised Jessica most was seeing how naturally participants improvised with the Central School students, their spontaneity and lack of inhibition. “The participants all looked like professionals. It was all very fluid.
Jessica felt a particular sense of purpose working on this evaluation “You feel like you are helping them because you are directly asking them questions that can make a difference to them. It reaffirms the fact that participants are benefiting from what we are doing. She now plans to help set up A4D Friends programme to continue the stimulation for participants.