2023 marks the beginning of the 2nd decade of May Contain Nuts, something which still sounds incredible even as it's being typed. While we have had moments where it seemed like not too much was happening, when we sat down for our Nutsmas takeaway and discussed this past year, turns out we were really rather busy.
As always we had our yearly workshops with the students from Queen Mary University of London and the University of Hertfordshire. We also returned for an extended length of scenario training sessions for the student nurses, also at the University of Hertfordshire.
Our collaboration with MIND to create a Drama Support Group kicked off in February this year. After finding a fantastic facilitator in Abi, the first group started up in Watford and while it was initially only due to run for 6 months before we started up another group in Ware for the final 6 months of the pilot project, the Watford group was proven to be helpful and successful enough to be allowed to run for the entirety of the year. Attendees from both Watford and Ware have commented on how the group is helping with their general mental well being and in building their confidence and it is an absolute joy to be a part of this journey with them. While the funding for the pilot year does run out in early 2024, we are currently in the process of applying for more funding that will hopefully allow us to run the groups for as long as possible.
We were lucky enough to be nominated for 2 awards this year. The first was the HPFT As One Together Award, which celebrates partnership projects between HPFT and other organisations with the aim of improving the wellbeing of people struggling with mental health issues. Our category was full with many wonderful teams that do great work and we are very blessed to have won this award.
The 2nd award we have been nominated for is the Student Nursing Times award in the Partnership of the Year category for our work with the student nurses at the University of Hertfordshire. Fingers crossed for us in early 2024 when we will hear more from this.
We had a wonderful evening in April with family and friends showing both acts of our newest piece 'Sleeping Dogs' which was well received and led to several interesting discussions.
Our final performance for this year was on the 5th of December when we performed the first act of 'Sleeping Dogs' for the CEO of HPFT and members from the Psychology Team ( who won the Highly Commended in the As One Together category) and a drama therapist or two. This also went well with discussions around the arts in therapy and how we as a theatre company work following up from this. We were very lucky to receive a mention from the CEO in her blog.
Several new exciting opportunities have come up for us this year as well. We were invited to perform and talk at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. This was part of a workshop/conference about dramatherapy and it's uses. In spite of the fire alarm going off towards the end of the session, we had a wonderful time and have been invited back to do workshops with their dramatherapy and drama performance students in the new year.
We were also put in touch with another tutor from the University of Hertfordshire who has asked us to do scenario training for a week in early February 2024.
One big project that is potentially in the works will involve a collaboration with NHS England and will possibly involve us going on tour to the 7 regions that make up NHS England. We should be able to share more on this in early 2024.
Through our current work with the student nurses at the University of Hertfordshire, we have been invited to take part in a talk at the University of Lancaster. We are also looking to reconnect with the University of Roehampton and Anglia Ruskin University to offer workshops for their students as well.
Closer to home, we are in talks about joining the team at the Simulation Faculty within HPFT to help run their simulation training for current HPFT staff and members of the emergency services. We have also been offered the opportunity to run a resilience training workshop for staff at HPFT in the new year at HPFT headquarters.
Lastly we are in the process of developing a new piece to take into Secondary schools which will look at opening discussions around how to access mental health services and about mental health in general.
All that remains to say is thank you all once again for all your love and support that you have shown us this year, as you have every year. We are blessed to be able to share our experiences with mental health with you through our performances and workshops.
All the best for 2024 and see you sometime in the future.