The creation of an innovative film designed to combat the impact of loneliness on military staff and officers is underway at RAF Benson.

The unusual project is supported by The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. RAF Benson teamed up with physical theatre company Justice in Motion who helps alleviate the symptoms with a gift of dance and the theatre company’s performances feature in the short film.

Last year Justice in Motion worked with Oxford University humanities researcher Dr Bronwyn Tarr on the short film Moving Together, using the shared activity of dancing together to ‘beat the blues’. Dr Tarr has been studying the bonding effects of synchronised movement in groups and its impact on feeling connected.

Oxford Mail:

RAF Benson said: “This project is unlike anything we’ve been involved in before and it has sparked conversations across our community. With personnel and families talking candidly about their own experiences and Justice in Motion’s interpretation of these into something visual, there have been more discussions about isolation and loneliness. As the unique video gifts are shared, we hope they will encourage people to speak more openly about mental health and reach out to the various support options we have available.”

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Talking about loneliness is therapeutic and the project Moving Together involves recording conversations about what loneliness feels like. These conversations inspire short choreography and music sequences, which, set in real life locations are filmed, and sent to the interviewees as video gifts.

Those taking part in the loneliness project asked not to be identified. Peter was a participant in the project and his feelings helped to inspire the choreography. He said : “It encapsulates everything I’ve been feeling for the last six years. I will show it to everybody because everybody’s heard me talk about it. A picture paints a thousand words - that clip paints more than a thousand words and says everything I’ve been trying to say. I’d like to see it shown nationwide on television, especially to the younger generation who still think they can’t talk about it.”

The mother of another participant called Lucy said: “As a painfully shy nine year old, this project has helped Lucy to identify her feelings more easily and to find different ways to explain them to others; the shape, the colour, the texture, the sound. It’s been incredible to watch her transform and open up to the team and she loved her video gift. Being able to see and hear the feelings expressed through the different video gifts has been amazing. I think they help everybody to understand how important connections are to people and that it’s okay to feel and express things in your own way”

The dancers will also teach parts of the choreography to the wider community so that they can take part in a flashmob together. 

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