Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding - Emerging evidence
Stockport MBC: Forum theatre and peer training
Ann Brooking and Debbie Gale from Staff Development at Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council shared their experience of using forum theatre to raise awareness about safeguarding with people with learning disabilities. The event led on to further work with people with learning disabilities, supporting them to become peer trainers on safeguarding.
In 2009 Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC) commissioned Adhoc, a local theatre company, to put on a piece of forum theatre relating to safeguarding issues for people with learning disabilities. Forum theatre is an interactive style of drama, where the audience direct the actors to act out a different outcome to a scenario, or even act out the role themselves. Staff Development within Stockport MBC worked with Adhoc to develop three scenarios to be used as the basis for an event on safeguarding. One focused on disability hate crime, and the second was on financial, emotional and sexual abuse in a supported tenancy. The third scenario focused on the tensions raised by the competing needs of different people in a day centre, looking at issues of bullying and abuse between people who use services.
The one-off event in November 2009 – Keeping Yourself Safe – was a great success. Forty people with learning disabilities attended, along with about 40 supporters and facilitators. People were keen to participate and act out the different roles. Stockport MBC also commissioned a film company to film the event and produce two versions of 'Keeping Yourself Safe' DVDs, one which concludes with information about local resources and the other with national resources. Contact Ann to find out about purchasing copies of the DVD.
The event led to a number of people with learning disabilities getting keen to be involved in safeguarding training to peers. So, during 2010, Stockport MBC joined forces with the national learning disabilities charity, Voice UK, to further develop the safeguarding work. Voice UK began by running six half-day workshops on 'Keeping safe' and 'Bullying and abuse' for people with learning disabilities. The training was offered in a range of facilities to people with learning disabilities, and drew in part on the 'Keeping Yourself Safe' DVD to make the sessions interactive.
Voice UK went on to run 'Train the trainer' sessions for people with learning disabilities to enable them to run sessions on safeguarding with their peers. This produced a group of six peer trainers who call themselves 'The A team'. Three of this group attended the original 2009 event. Debbie is enthusiastic about the way this original event sparked interest in this topic, and encouraged participants to develop new skills and confidence that is now being picked up in their training role.
The peer trainers had a first run at sharing their ideas at a People First event in Tameside in January 2011. The group are booked to give two presentations on safeguarding in the spring, and have further plans to present their message to local groups. The training takes a broad view of the safeguarding agenda and looks at how to stop bullying and how people can keep safe when they are out and about.
Apart from considerable staff time, the cost of the original project was approxiately £5,000. However the impact from the event has been sustained through the use of the two DVDs and the ongoing peer training that is being delivered. The project has the potential to reach many more people through the work of the peer trainers and the DVD, so the project will have been very cost effective overall.
Collaborative working with Voice UK and the Council has enabled the project to continue with relatively low costs. The peer group now meet at a local resource centre which does not incur a cost.
What's worked wellOpen
According to Ann, the whole project has been 'incredibly positive'. Stockport now has two strong resources – the DVD and the peer trainers – to carry on the work on prevention. Feedback on the forum theatre event and the DVD, now used as a training tool in a range of settings, has been very positive.
It took a lot more energy and time than envisaged at the start to write the scripts for the scenarios with Ad hoc and to organise the event, but it was well worth it.
Advice for othersOpen
The success and the sustainability of the project was ensured by partnership working with the voluntary sector and other partner organisations such as Voice UK and Stockport Learning Disability Partnership. This has enabled partners to share resources and skills.
A key feature of the project has been working with the enthusiasm of 'The A Team'. If Stockport MBC were to run a forum theatre event again, they would be able to involve 'The A Team' at the initial stages, so user involvement would start right from the beginning and influence the direction and development of the event.
The peer trainers have just begun their work in Stockport and are being supported by Voice UK to take this work forward at a pace that they are comfortable with. The trainers are also establishing a support group that will meet monthly.