BA Applied Drama graduates making a big social impact with arts and wellbeing charity


UWTSD graduates from BA Applied Drama : Education, Wellbeing, Community have been making a big impact with People Speak Up Limited, a social arts and health charity based in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. 

UWTSD graduates from BA Applied Drama: Education, Wellbeing, Community have been making a big impact with People Speak Up Limited, a social arts and health charity based in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.

People Speak Up has been a great friend of the BA Applied Drama Course over the last 6 years and their Artistic Director, Eleanor Shaw, is a regular guest artist, delivering workshops on autobiographical storytelling and professional practice. 

This has led to People Speak Up offering a number of volunteering opportunities to students over the years which has led to paid work for a number of recent graduates.

Carys Phillips, graduated in 2019, and now runs Young People Speak Up (YPSU), a weekly youth arts group aimed at engaging young people across Llanelli.  Set up just before the 2020 lockdown Carys has led this youth arts work from its inception at the People Speak Up (PSU) base at the Ffwrnes Fach in Llanelli, through an online safe and creative space through lockdown, back to a dynamic face to face youth arts and wellbeing group that is growing fast. 

Carys uses a range of drama, storytelling and visual arts techniques and exercises in YPSU with the intention of putting the young people at the centre of the process to feel engaged, empowered and have their voices heard in a creative and safe space.  This has led to the young people devising their own intergenerational project with older members of the Llanelli community and also volunteering themselves on other arts projects.

Although Carys leads on this project she is also joined by BA Applied Drama graduate Ffion Weston, who works alongside her and the young people.  Ffion is also currently developing a project to work more specifically with neurodiverse young people through PSU.

Carys said: “Giving young people a safe space to have their voice heard and be creative is very important as it allows them to engage in something positive within the community, resulting in improved wellbeing and mental health. The BA in Applied Drama allowed me to explore and gain confidence within myself, as well as delivering workshops. It has provided me with the skills to work with various groups of people in the community using the creative arts.”

Alongside Carys and Ffion, PSU is also working with other BA Applied Drama graduates. Karen Lacey-Freeman, who graduated in 2020, has been working with PSU to run creative reminiscence workshops with two care homes throughout lockdown.  Karen devised the idea for these workshops in her final year at UWTSD and then adapted them to work in a lockdown situation.

Karen worked alongside Carys for this project, where she prepared boxes full of objects around a theme, for example: a vintage toy box, that would have dolls, bears, spinning tops wooden toys, ladybird books, puppets, cards and deliver these at the care home, she and Carys would then use Zoom to work with the residents digitally using the objects as stimulus for story, reminiscence and creativity.  These workshops have brought a tremendous amount of joy and wellbeing to the Hollies Care Home and Cilymaenllwyd Care Home in Llanelli.

Karen explains how she works:

“Putting the boxes together is very enjoyable as I always try and think about what objects I can put in to help the residents engage and connect during the workshop, to give them a positive reminiscing session. It is very important to me to listen to what everyone is saying as then other themes and ideas can be used for further workshops.

“The BA Applied Drama degree at UWTSD prepared me for this type of work, as I mixed with various different ages and communities through my modules. I was also encouraged to volunteer in my second year which was the turning point for me as it made me aware of the needs of people living with dementia and helping my career moving forward.”

Recent graduates from this summer 2021, Kris Grogan and Haydn Williams have also been working with PSU.  Kris Grogan has been heading a project called Men in Conversation, a non-judgemental creative time for men to listen and talk.  He has held this on Zoom throughout the last year, which is working well, and he hopes to be able to facilitate it in a live space soon also.

Kris and Haydn have also been a key part in this summer’s Llanelli #streetplay project. Here they have worked with Eleanor, Carys, Ffion and Karen to organise this creative street-based project aimed at encouraging children to gather in their local communities to play together.  Given that play is often at the heart of much applied drama practice this was a project all graduates were excited to engage with.

UWTSD graduates from BA Applied Drama: Education, Wellbeing, Community have been making a big impact with People Speak Up Limited, a social arts and health charity based in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.

They also work together on other PSU projects such as the weekly Story Care and Share sessions and earlier this summer accompanied PSU and the Pod Siarad to work at the Beyond the Border Storytelling Festival.

Ali Franks, lecturer in BA Applied Drama: Education, Wellbeing, Community said: “We believe that our BA Applied Drama graduates need to be employment ready, so we are delighted that this is so evident.  People Speak Up is a fantastic organisation undertaking ground-breaking and important work in local community settings by combining participatory arts practice with community building through overcoming loneliness and isolation. 

“We are delighted that Eleanor is such a valued guest lecturer with us and overwhelmed by the impact that she and the work of PSU has on our students.  This has led to many employment opportunities for our graduates who have really taken the baton and run with it, putting their learning into practice.  It is wonderful for me to see them growing into committed, heart-centred participatory artists and creative practitioners in such an exciting organisation. I feel immensely proud and intrigued to what unique projects they will be developing with PSU next.”

Eleanor Shaw, Artistic Director of PSU: “It’s so important to create opportunities for our local UWTSD Applied Drama graduates as they are the future of our arts for wellbeing workforce.  We love working with Ali Franks at UWTSD as we share values, and she understands how and what is needed to train people-led creative facilitators."

UWTSD graduates from BA Applied Drama: Education, Wellbeing, Community have been making a big impact with People Speak Up Limited, a social arts and health charity based in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

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Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

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