Reflecting on wellbeing: this Saturday’s Wellbeing Festival

This Saturday sees the return of the annual Wellbeing Festival to Hamilton House. Now in its fourth year, the event offers the opportunity to learn, rejuvenate and explore some of the many therapies available in our Wellbeing rooms.

The original idea of the festival, as Nealey Conquest, a member of the Wellbeing team and one of the organisers explains, was to “enable people to learn tools to look after themselves, promote the Wellbeing department in Hamilton House and celebrate wellbeing-related activities in Bristol.”

But what is wellbeing and why is it important? For Nealey:

Wellbeing can be described as the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. From the complementary therapy perspective wellbeing occurs when your physical, emotional, psychological and social conditions are in balance. Promoting wellbeing is at the heart of creating a more connected world where people are physically and psychologically healthy, productive and working together effectively for the benefit of all. The Wellbeing Festival wants to champion this vision and bring wellbeing into public awareness so that our community can progress towards greater health and prosperity.

While many factors can contribute to our sense of wellbeing, or be detrimental to it, the current economic climate of austerity and social spending cuts are adding to the daily pressures faced by many people in Bristol, and across the UK. Organisations such as the New Economics Foundation have cited issues such as precarious employment, in-work poverty, poor housing, cuts to unemployment and disability payments and an unravelling safety net as severe obstacles to collective wellbeing in many communities. Young people, disabled people and many older people are all disproportionately affected by austerity.

The crowdfunder campaign runs from 30 April to 31 May

With this in mind, and with a commitment to using complimentary therapies as a way to improve the wellbeing of isolated and vulnerable communities, Saturday’s event will see the launch of a crowdfunding campaign. The aim is to raise £3700 to fund a team of therapists who “will bring one-to-one massage and group mindfulness sessions to up to 300 older people in Bristol’s care homes.”

With Age Concern and Help the Aged reporting that over 1 million older people experience loneliness, the funding will provide a chance for residents “to receive much-needed individual attention and touch, which is proven to have a positive effect on emotional wellbeing”. Mindfulness has been cited as helping to “aid focus and improve an individual’s ability to relax and cope with stress”, as Nealey puts it, all of which is beneficial to older people adjusting to their new lives in care homes.

It will be possible to make donations to the crowdfunder throughout the day on Saturday, as well as via the crowdfunder website. All proceeds from ticket sales will go towards building improvements to our wellbeing rooms.

Other highlights of Saturday’s event will include a Capoeira performance at 5.30pm; a session by ‘one-legged existentialist, stand-up beat poet and inspiration engineer’, Chris Paradox; live music from Lady Nade; a 10-minute play on mental health with Lianne Davis and snack-making, drama fun & story-telling with Giulia Bianchi in the Kid’s space.

There will also be a chance to win a bunch of prizes from our sponsors in a raffle. These include two tickets for the play ‘Into The West’ at the Tobacco Factory, two free meals at Thali, and a bike maintenance course worth £60 at the Bristol Bike Project.

For more information, including tickets and timetable, click here.

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