SPRING: Dancing Into Recovery

Using dance to support vulnerable women and their children

Brighton & Hove has long-standing problems with substance misuse with far-reaching consequences for individuals, families and the community at large - alcohol abuse alone costs the city of Brighton & Hove £100m per yeari. Many organisations do great work to support those affected and we teamed up with one of them - Brighton Oasis Project (BOP), a local organisation that supports women in recovery from substance misuse.

What we did

South East Dance approached BOP to develop a unique project called SPRING: Dancing into Recovery, using dance as a tool to support pathways to recovery and abstinence. The underlying aim of the project was to offer dance activity that increases physical and mental wellbeing, encourages healthy peer relationships and builds trust and resilience in individual women and their children. Very importantly to us and to BOP was also the desire to create access to the arts and spark a long-term interest where it had previously been out of reach. We placed two artists, Anne Colvin and Laura Woods, in residence at BOP, and they worked closely with women involved to shape and deliver the project. Anne and Laura have since recruited BOP service users as Dance Champions to be advocates for the project with their peers. We also worked with BOP to promote positive parenting and parent child interaction by providing activities for Young Oasis, their children’s service, and family workshops where women and their children can enjoy dance and creative activities together.

“I feel these dance opportunities make a real impact on women to help them feel good about themselves, to build confidence, self-esteem and help them socialise with others.”
Louise, Key Worker at Brighton Oasis Project

What we achieved

66 women, children and young people have taken part in a range of activities through the project, many of the women reported that the activity has had a positive impact on their well-being and made a contribution to their recovery programme. Nine out of ten regular attenders of ‘Spring – Dancing into Recovery’ successfully concluded their treatment with BOP during the course of the programme. BOP have embraced using the creative arts as part of their treatment and recovery programmes and are exploring ways of integrating this further.

”I’m totally in control of my life now and in such a calm place and deal with things in a completely different manner.”
Jasmin*, participant

Annabel's Story

Annabel* is a 25 year old mother of one from Brighton who has been in treatment for substance misuse for many years. She had started to make great progress in her recovery since the birth of her baby, but life continued to present challenges - she was a single mum caring for her first child and Children’s Services were worried about her ability to do this on her own.

Whilst accessing the service at Brighton Oasis Project (BOP), Annabel was encouraged to join SPRING: Dancing into Recovery as part of her treatment.

“Before I got involved in SPRING I was quite nervous – but it was something to do to build up my self-esteem, have fun and learn new skills at the same time.”
Annabel

Annabel was a regular attendee of the movement and dance sessions we provided for over a year and enjoyed it so much that she took on the role of Dance Champion, inspiring other service users to take the plunge and give it a go like she did.

“If I was encouraging someone else to take part, I’d say ‘do it! You don’t know what you’re missing, it’s really fun!’ - I loved the dancing and have learned lots.”
Annabel

Since completing her year of dancing she is doing really well - she has left treatment and is abstinent from all drug use, but continues to access BOP for support around her recovery.

“The dancing really helped with her confidence at a time when she was looking to find structure in her life and things to get involved with. She was able to enjoy new experiences such as watching dance at the theatre and participating in dance activities with her baby.”
Jo-Anne Welsh, Director at Brighton Oasis Project

* False names have been used to protect individual identities

SPRING: Dancing into Recovery is a partnership project with Brighton Oasis Project and funded by The Rayne Foundation with additional funding from Co-op Funeral Care. South East Dance Limited is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales. Funded by Arts Council England and Brighton & Hove City Council.

© Zoe Manders
SPRING: Dancing Into Recovery

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