It’s turning out to be a year none of us expected and that will have an impact.
Will we have worked with less people this year than we projected? Probably.
Will we have worked with fewer environments? Maybe not, they will be different but probably not fewer.
Will we have worked in new ways? Yes.
Found out new things about ourselves and each other? Yes.
And, therefore, seen people and the music they create, grow and change? Definitely.
My favourite things about Zoom Music sessions:
I would never have voted for virtual group or one to one sessions. I have always felt that quality engagement happens when people are face to face – I was wrong.
Having found ourselves in a situation where virtual was the only option, we have all learnt some things, we have all grown, and we have created some extraordinary original music.
As lock-down eases, our sessions are now real, virtual or a blend of both. A session that includes both real and virtual participation brings a new set of challenges and opportunities. It will bring new music too.
Written by Jane Williams, Published by Dom Palfreman
You may have seen that we are doing some ‘updates’ across Social Media about The Tea Rooms and The Turning Tides Project as we build up to ‘normality’ and opening again. These updates are not happening because ‘we have time’, they are things we were doing anyway and have had to wait to make a reality and introduce because we currently do not have our usual open door (due to COVID19).
We will be…
All responses to these updates have been positive, understandably, and we are looking forward to welcoming people into our Tea Rooms and sharing more updates with you.
Some of the responses have got us thinking though… Why isn’t EVERYONE doing this – small businesses, individuals, families, institutions, big businesses?
Thinking about this reminded me of a short story adapted from ‘The Star Thrower’ by Loren C. Eiseley.
It was the ‘mantra’ of somewhere used to work and printed on some of their literature and induction paperwork. I think it sums up the difference people can make rather nicely:
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,
“Well, I made a difference for that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.
I would like to invite businesses, individuals, the community to share the changes they will be making to benefit the community. To make a more accessible, inclusive society for us to all live in and benefit from. If we were all more altruistic, we would all benefit.
It is quite a shift of culture, but if we can make that change we will see that change.
A recent meeting in my village with a new mum out walking with her brand-new baby in the sunshine, has prompted me to wonder about those I might not have considered yet during these times. Those people experiencing huge changes and managing different realities to the previously held expectations for summer 2020.
What has it been like for new parents at this time of necessary self-isolation and social distancing?
I remember so clearly the bubble of new-parenthood, the joy at retreating into the new family unit - hours spent gazing and getting to know each other - days blending into themselves and hours passing - time re-framing itself into periods of crazed activity and quiet reflection.
I also remember how much reassurance i needed. I needed my mum close by for those 4am phone calls and panic requests for a visit. I wonder how I would have coped without being able to hand over my toddler or babies (I had twins) for a moment of respite, or to share in the joy of their amazing arrival.
What would it be like for a baby to be held only by their parents for the first few months of their lives?
How will the increased anxiety of this time affect parent-baby attachment? Secure attachment develops from a parent's ability to manage stress, respond to their baby’s cues, and successfully soothe the infant. An interactive, non-verbal, emotional exchange that allows a baby to feel understood and safe. These have been such isolating and challenging times for so many of us. Feeling safe, connected, and nurtured personally has been more difficult than ever. I am left worried that the repercussions of this will ripple on for a while.
What would it be like to have deal with all these issues and have a child that was born different? Would the enforced isolation be an added strain or might it, more positively, be a way of having the necessary space to get your head round it all? Could the fact that everyone is currently isolated mean that other new parents will learn things that might change the future for a generation of new babies? Might parents be united in their experience of now?
We are all having to reflect and shape a sense of what the future might look like? Can we take this opportunity to prioritise inclusion, equal opportunity, and access? Might we become more connected through our experience of this new, different time.
Music making and singing can be a vital support in Early Years. As musicians and educators, we need to be innovators, we need to find new ways of working with integrity, and reflect honestly on what we offer. We need to respond to needs and not race to fill a gap. We need to talk to parents, young children, and settings. We need to listen.
We must keep finding ways to offer support, to notice those voices that are quiet.
Written by Rachel Thame, Published by Dom Palfreman
I am now finally part of the conversation.
For the last year or so Abi and myself have been working on making accessing Theatre a reality for people with ‘Learning Disabilities’ or ‘Autism‘ labels. One of the things we spoke about in our last blog was how almost every other art form can be accessed from your front room in an environment you can control. Other than Theatre. Until now…
There is Theatre everywhere! Due to recent developments companies are choosing to stream certain productions online. Some now have entire online programmes. You can watch anything from productions from The National Theatre to The Dutch National Opera. There is something for everyone. Opera has been streaming for a while now, and Theatres are finally catching – it is exciting.
Why is it exciting? Because it allows people access to Theatre who would not ordinarily be able to access it. Like me. I can now have an informed opinion on things. I can now say ‘I liked that actor’, ‘the production value was good’, ‘that play was not for me’. I now feel like I have the privilege to have my opinion whereas before I only had an informed opinion on the limited amount of productions that have been available to me.
It has gone from being an agenda that I no control over. Where I would be given this one production of a play I could see. Whereas now I have a huge catalogue to choose from. I am now open to so much more Theatre and am able to explore what genres I like, what styles of writing I can play around with and what is achievable in a theatrical space and as a writer that has done me a world of good. It has made me so happy and I feel more positive about Theatre than I have done in years.
So, what about the financial sustainability of Theatres? There have been several high-profile stories of Theatres having financial trouble and a lot of these Theatres have set up live streaming as a way of getting donations and contributions to the Theatre. Some of their shops are also still open for people to buy things from.
When we went into lockdown, I was worried about my world shutting down almost entirely and this time has not gone without its stresses. I was not expecting to feel anything positive at all and certainly was not expecting Theatre to become accessible for me for the first time in my life. It is like the entire new world opened up, and I really don’t want that door to shut for me again.
My question is: Once this pandemic has settled and we are able to access the Theatres again, will this new world still be available for me to access?
Do you want to join in with the conversation? Here are several links to some varied productions. Please read content warnings as you may not like some of the production themes.
Bristol Old Vic:
Schaubuhne Theater Munich
Munich Staatsoper (Munich State Opera)
Dutch National Opera
Gorki Theatre Germany
Manchester Royal Exchange
Written by Chloe and Abi, Published by Dom Palfreman
How did you feel at the start?
I was at college when I first heard about it. I listened to the news. I think I was scared, probably. We have never had this sort of thing in the UK before. We have had people getting ill and stuff, but not from this. On Radio One, they said that we now have corona virus in the UK - the school didn’t say anything until we heard more and then, I was out one evening and the staff said ‘you might have to go home because of the virus’. At that point I said I did not want to, but it started to grow bigger and bigger, this thing.
Anything you were worried about at the beginning?
Well, now, I would like to go back and finish the school year. Then I was worried about how I was going to get back home to Devon, to mum. I was not sure what I was going to do.
What has changed?
Every Thursday evening, we were going to the pub; every Monday we would hang out in the house, Tuesday was games night, Wednesday we would go swimming. Every weekend we were always going out, Sunday or Saturday, we would go out if the weather were nice and if we had enough staff to take us out. We went to a lot of places went on a bus to the cinema to see a lot of films; the pub one weekend; one we went to that bird place; the sea life centre. And I would always go and see some live music at the O2 academy in Birmingham. I had tickets to go and see Dua Lipa and Alicia Keys. It was Example, Alicia Keys, Dua Lipa and there was another one…. Foals. I was going to see Foals on the 9th May, Alicia Keys in June. I saw Example in February before the virus. I had three concerts to go to. Dua Lipa was in July, I think, but they have rescheduled it for next year, which was good, so I can go and see them then.
I think what was confusing for me was how I would get home and see family. It was a bit scary that really. I do not know how to explain. Bit scary that I would not be able to get back. I was supposed to get back on the 3rd of April because that’s when Easter was. We were going to break up on April 3rd for Easter, but we broke up in March, earlier, because of the virus. I was going to go back to Devon to see mum. I was going to have two weeks off. I was going to get on the train on the 18th back up to college and start on the 19th. That is how it was going to plan out until this virus kicked off.
It was all a bit confusing for me and the staff at college, to be fair. Dominic ended up coming to get me. I did not go back to my original home - I went back to a different family Sally and Jeff’s. I like it, it is good, it is nice being here. It is just different.
When I am at home, I always go to visit friends from my old college - go to visit and stay with them, or just for the day. Before this kicked off, I was planning on going to see my mum and my friends from West of England college - maybe stay with them, but it is all slightly different now.
I got loads of phone calls from my brother. A soon as I heard about everything closing: the schools, the pubs, the restaurant, the hotels and that, we did not want to carry on. We wanted to close everything down to stay safe. My dad and brother came to see me before the college closed and things; it is lucky they did. I do not know how I ended up with Sally and Jeff - it is a bit confusing. I was in the kitchen having a drink with Claire, who is the assistant at college. I was going to home on that day, back to mum’s but everything changed. My mum was away doing a yoga class that day, but it got called off early because of the virus. I did not go back to mum’s because she is classed as a vulnerable person and the virus might get her. Staying with Sally and Jeff was arraigned by social services - I first met them when I arrived at their house.
My routine has changed - I used to get up, have a shower, have breakfast, go to college, then come back around 4 o’clock, and hang out in the living room for a bit and listen to The Chase, then bed for 11. I do not have much of a routine currently.
I am still doing schoolwork; it is pretty much the same, but I prefer doing it in the room, like my braille with Manisha. It makes it harder because she cannot see what I am doing, and it is harder for her to tell me if it is wrong or right.
I have been keeping in touch with people via phone messages pretty regularly. When I first came here, I spoke to my grandma pretty much every night, and my mum pretty much every night. I had my birthday here - last year I was at college and the year before that I was at home for my birthday, so that is different is not it. My mum and brother managed to come out and we met up outside, which was nice.
What are you feeling uncertain about?
I am a bit uncertain about how to get back to college if it does open again. I have not heard if they are going to open again for definite, though they said maybe June the 8th. I do not have a lot of things with me here because I am used to getting the train back to college, so I did not want to take it all back.
What do you think the world will be like after?
I do not know. I cannot really think - I do not know how it will be different. This has never happened before; it is the first time that this virus has come to us in the UK, so I do not know what is going to happen when this has all blown over. I have no idea. I do not think it will be the same - the pubs will not be open when this is all over and a lot of them will go out of business. They discussed yesterday about opening the parks in London. I think it will take a long time for everything to be reopened again. And a lot of
The rules can be quite annoying. I do not think they are going to change them. The social distancing is frustrating because you cannot go and visit people and sitting with them and going for a coffee. I think it is going to go on forever. I think the world may go back to ‘normal’, but I do not think the distancing will go away. It could be a government thing - it is Boris Johnson saying things that we need to keep an eye on. Once everything is back to normal, you will be able to hug people and sit next to them and have a coffee with them; I enjoy that.
What are you looking forward to?
I will be so happy when they say you can come out of isolation and go back to college. That first call I will be so happy. The first call about that will be so cool. I am looking forward to going back out there, like, getting back to college, seeing mum, going out to pubs and restaurants.
Any other messages?
Just keep safe… just keep safe really.
Written by Otis and Roger Hill, Published by Dom Palfreman
Are you being home schooled for the first time? Are you unable to see your friends?
Are you finding new ways to communicate?
I had a FaceTime with Jane and Ella recently where we discussed some of the above and also their amazing new song!
Here is some things from Ella’s perspective and some top tips!
Ella, why are you home schooled?
School didn’t treat me with respect, they didn’t treat me right.
Do you have any top tips for people that have never been home schooled before?
- Don’t wear a uniform
- Work first play later
What are you most looking forward to after coming out of isolation?
- Trying some new things
- Seeing some friends
- Having some space back!
You and Jane have written a beautiful song together, what is it called?
What is your song about?
The things we’re both scared to do and the people we love are part of what helps us to try.
What kind of things are you scared of?
- The dark
- Sometimes going outside
- Sometimes meeting people
- Being somewhere new
How do friends make that better?
- Being with someone you trust
- Being with someone who respects you and the things you are scared of.
You & Jane recently wrote a post about friendship and what it means to be a friend, what was that list?
(7) Gives the best hugs
(12) In some ways be like Connie
Here is Ella's and Jane's song ‘Let Go’. I’m sure you will agree that it is beautiful:
Staying at home is something that people are being advised to do but some people are finding it hard to even do that.
What they might not understand is that many people are more comfortable in their own homes, for example I am more comfortable at home as it means that I don’t have to go out and face the world around me. For many years I found it hard to go outside and socialize with those around me as they didn’t understand me properly. I used to stay at home a lot in my room where I had my own space where I felt free from my anxieties.
There were always times when I wished I could go outside and play with the children my own age, but I was unable to due to the fear of being bullied by the other kids for being different.
I was scared of coming out of the house for the smallest of things which meant I couldn’t see my real friends or my Grandma. Now, due to the technology of today, I can see people face to face without being outside. I was able to face some of my fears with the help of The Turning Tides Project. Before the lock down I was using public transport and going outside to get shopping and to socialize with those around me. At first this it was a really hard process, but it did get easier with time but for some people this can't happen, and it certainly can’t happen now. So, whilst people are complaining that they are stuck indoors maybe they should stop and think about what it is like for the people around them that face these day to day troubles of not being able to go outside due to their anxieties and fears, all of the time.
If you’re bored why don’t you write a song or something like I do.
Here’s a link to one of the songs I have written. It’s called ‘Finding the Pieces’:
Last night’s BBC news presented the following 2 items, back to back:
I sincerely hope that the BBC’s programming was intentional.
We are not ‘all in this together’. The experience of those who have and those who don’t will be, and always is, unequal.
I could not have survived the current situation, in a bed-sit with 2 children. I have huge respect for those of us who are having to do that.
I could not vacate to my country residence knowing that others can’t even vacate to another room.
These are not new issues for our society: the current situation has simply removed all the distractions and brought the extent of our unequal, exclusive, consumerist society into sharp relief. I am ashamed to be a voting member of a democracy that, in allowing this extreme inequality has implied that it is acceptable.
It’s not acceptable.
The current crisis presents us with the opportunity to identify what’s unacceptable and make plans for permanent change. The Turning Tides Project is collecting lots of ideas: we will act on them. We’d have a far greater impact if our action was part of a bigger plan.
Who is collating the national action plan?
And how can we get involved?
See the change, be the change, make the change.
Written by Jane Williams, Published by Dom Palfreman
I’ve heard so many people in the last few weeks, greet our current situation as a wake up call, a time to reflect, a time to look at what we can all do to acknowledge the things humanity isn’t getting right and agree how we make that different.
What I know is that human beings are wired to forget painful experiences. Maybe sometimes that’s useful, it’s got us this far. In order to use what we’re currently learning I firmly believe that we need to ACT NOW, to take the reflections and the realisations and use them to inform decisions, plans and agreements before we forget the pain.
The effort that’s been made by central and local government to rapidly design and publish, one-size fits all solutions to keeping us all afloat in the short term are hugely impressive. Nothing done that fast was going to be without its flaws and I have no doubt that the intentions were principled and human. Unfortunately for many forward thinking, outward facing organisations, like The Turning Tides Project the ‘emergency measures’ are unlikely to save us. As a creative organisation that takes a Social Model Approach, we simply don’t fit and whilst in good times, that’s applauded, when the going gets tough the system reverts to what it knows best. Certainly, in terms of our Local Authority, the response favours exactly the traditional model of ‘care’ that they’ve professed to wish to move on from. Perhaps that’s an inevitable first phase in society’s reaction to a crisis. If it is , then I’m optimistic that the second phase is about looking to the future and preparing now , to ensure that we’re not only ready for it but ready for a more respectful, generous and equal future than the one we were predicting a few short months ago.
Many things have moved me to tears in the last few weeks, I know I’m not alone in that. I will never forget the interviews I saw on the news, of homeless people in Liverpool who have been housed by Liverpool City Council taking out leases on unoccupied apartments. Thousands of people are homeless in this country, and yet, when it benefits us all for them not to be, that’s an issue we can resolve. Surely, it always benefits us all to take such good care of each other. And surely, no one with any kind of social conscience is going to put people back on the street when the current restrictions are lifted?
The Turning Tides Project is NOT a charity: Equal Access is a right, but charity has its place. As part of this year’s Business Plan, we’d already agreed that we’d be declaring 2 good causes for which we would raise funds: one environmental and one, addressing the issue of homelessness. If The Turning Tides Project survives the current crisis, we will do that.
If every business in this country took similar action could we make ‘homelessness’ a distant memory? Could we repair some of the damage we’ve done to our environment? Yes, I’m sure we could.
We can all make a difference: That difference will be brought about by ACTION, not by discussion alone.
See the Change, Make the Change, Be the Change you’d like to see in the world.
Written by Jane Williams, Published by Dominic Palfreman
‘Social isolation on your own settee’, is a line from a song we wrote last year. It was about people retreating to their living rooms to watch TV, in the 70’s, and in doing so, bringing cinema and the British Film Industry to its knees. The 21st century has seen a huge Cinema revival: the noughties are a very sociable generation... and now, it’s all changed.
The line reads like a pre-echo, a premonition of the situation we all now find ourselves in. We wanted to Blog about the way the coronavirus pandemic is unfolding for people who are part of The Turning Tides Project (TTTP); this is the first in a series of Blogs.
Lots of people who are part of TTTP find the uncertainty, the clutter, the crowd and the noise of 21st century society very anxiety provoking. Sometimes it feels safer to be part of an isolated, excluded population that take refuge in their bedrooms and seal themselves off from the world.
Some of us worry, all of the time, about germs and others are hyper-sensitive to getting dirty.
In mid-March, as the reality of the pandemic loomed large and lock down began, I wondered about people who are part of The Turning Tides Project and if they’d be ok with all the changes and uncertainty. What became very clear was that a number of the people that I was most concerned about suddenly seemed more at home, more rooted, more calm.
Who are the Experts?
These people are people who are experts in:
Almost overnight, the rest of us have been forced to experience a world that is many people’s everyday reality. A paradoxical 'Equal Access' that I’d never imagined.
We will all learn, about ourselves and each other.
I hope that when ordinary rules return, the things we’ve all learnt will be remembered. I have no doubt that now is a time when Equal Access could become a reality… but will it remain a reality when we each return to our previous lifestyles?
When those of us who party, shop, travel, work, meet friends for chats, start new relationships and new hobbies, return to that life I hope that we will remember who isn’t there and understand more than we used to about why that happens and how it feels to be part of an isolated population.
I hope we will all have developed new and lasting expertise in simplicity, honesty, respect, generosity and that we will use what we have learnt to be the change we wouldd like to see in the world.
Written by Jane Williams, Published by Dom Palfreman