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Breathe & Connect

Our Covid recovery approach for Doncaster people and artists

A participant stands with their eyes closed and their hands pressed on their diaphragm at breathe and connect. darts at The Point in Doncaster.

What is Breathe & Connect? 

Breathe & Connect is a programme using singing, breathing, relaxation and gentle movement. Originally developed for people living with Long Covid, the programme is now commissioned by Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust for patients with Breathing Pattern Disorders. Watch our short film to hear from participants and artists about what it’s like to take part and the benefits of attending.

darts originally developed the approach in 2022. The programme was designed over an intense three-month period funded through Doncaster Council and the Additional Restrictions Grant from South Yorkshire Mayoral Authority.  

This period of development enabled darts artists and freelance artists to work collaboratively with each other, and with health professionals, to understand the health and social impacts of Long Covid. The artists worked together, and with groups of Doncaster adults, to test and refine their approach, using their experience of delivering years of singing and dance programmes but adapting the model to respond to the specific needs of Long Covid.  We have since worked closely with the Community Respiratory Physiotherapy Service to adapt the programme for Breathing Pattern Disorders.

Adults with Long Covid and COPD

The Covid pandemic has exacerbated the prevalence of adults in Doncaster with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – diseases that cause breathing-related problems. There is also high number of adults experiencing  Long Covid. Office of National Statistics (ONS) early research into Long Covid shows that the most common symptoms are breathlessness, fatigue, respiratory issues, memory/concentration issues, anxiety and loneliness.

Professional artists drew on their expertise of existing dance and music programmes to develop an approach specifically designed to build stamina and lung capacity whilst improving emotional health and wellbeing. Weekly dance and music sessions use our successful Dance On approach as a starting point for social dance activity that builds confidence, whilst gently increasing motivation and energy. Evidence from our research project with Leeds University shows that sessions increase balance and mobility and improve happiness.

darts · Breathe and Connect

Musicians have also built on darts’ expertise in delivering singing programmes such as Quirky Choir and Singing for Memory. Singing exercises build lung capacity, correct posture and increase diaphragm use, as well as calming anxiety. The social aspect of both groups is vital to re-building confidence and connections with others.

If you are interested in Breathe & Connect and wish to discuss the project further, please contact Cara McAleese –

A group of adults wearing masks dance gently in a light filled room. Some are standing and some are sitting. A Breathe & Connect session with darts in Doncaster
adults   arts and health   case study   dance   singing

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