The Arch-Way Project has become an essential safe space over the past 10 years, providing the much-needed welcoming, friendly and person-centred approach to our local community, particularly those with mental health conditions and the elderly.
Based at Arden Road in Halifax, Arch Way was set up by Gary Flowitt in 2013 through a start-up grant received from the Community Foundation for Calderdale, which allowed the charity to buy its first laptop, improve its building, increase awareness and set out on its mission.
Speaking with Gary, it was clear where his priorities lie. His passion for improving mental health and well-being, tackling feelings of loneliness and isolation and building others’ self-confidence in a non-clinical and holistic approach is the driving force behind the Arch-Way Project.
By integrating music, art, physical exercise and beauty therapy, Arch-Way has successfully supported individuals to come out of their shells and reconnect with their community.
Four years ago, Arch-Way successfully applied for a grant through the National Lottery to launch a pilot project called Back to Being Me.
Back To Being Me focused on the strong link between physical health and mental health, and how improving one’s physical health can overall benefit self-esteem.
Arch Way’s main parameter of success was to see a 50% improvement in at least one of their outcomes (for example, an improvement in optimism) in each attendee by the end of the year.
This was measured through each participant completing a bi-weekly evaluation form, and interviewing carers/support staff.
68 individuals were initially involved in the Back to Being Me’s pilot and Arch-Way surpassed their parameters, finding that 87% of participants had improved in at least one aspect of their life.
An astounding result for both the charity and the people involved, the Back to Being Me pilot helped solidify and demonstrate the hard work and determination Arch-Way put in to get people back to themselves and creating a happier, healthier community, successfully leading to the project receiving funding for a further two years.
As of 2023, Arch Way have 171 registered users, with 28% now taking up volunteering opportunities or full-time employment, something which previously these individuals faced challenges with but now feel able and secure enough to do.
As well as Back to Being Me, Arch-Way also run their weekly ‘night out on a Monday afternoon’, Past Times.
In this blast from the past, visitors are transported back to a 1950s nightclub with live music, dancing, bingo and a quiz and you can even indulge in a pint or two at the bar.
Past Times runs every Monday at 2 pm, except Bank Holidays and is free to attend.
The event has proved to be fantastic in reducing loneliness, enhancing spirits, and has given a sense of nostalgia to attendees who suffer from dementia, or dementia-type symptoms.
The University of Huddersfield has spent the past 12 months studying Arch-Way and its projects, although the official study has not yet been released, it is indicative that Arch-Way is having a direct impact on lives in Calderdale.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Arch-Way as they continue to empower our local community and improve lives for the better.
If you’d like to learn more about the Arch-Way Project and what they have to offer, you can visit their website here: Arch-Way Project Website