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  • Celebrating-Our-New-Movement-Through-Cancer-Project-In-Yeovil

Celebrating our New Movement Through Cancer project in Yeovil

posted 22 Apr 2024
Celebrating our New Movement Through Cancer project in Yeovil

In January 2024, our new Movement Through Cancer project launched in Yeovil and has proved to be a huge success!


We are thrilled to announce that due to the success of the first 10 weeks of our unique and specially developed Movement Through Cancer sessions, we will be continuing to offer these specialist classes beyond April and into the future, providing more opportunities for anyone who has been affected by cancer to move, connect and enjoy the transformative benefits that dance can offer.

Research has shown that physical activity can help people to recover quicker following cancer treatment, and it can also help people to respond better to treatment. Dance is an enjoyable and holistic form of physical activity, that opens up creative possibilities physically and mentally. Research has shown that by regularly attending dance classes specifically designed for people with, or have gone through, cancer, participants notice a number of benefits, including improving fitness levels, boosting mood and confidence, and alleviating feelings of fatigue, stress and anxiety, consequently improving overall health and wellbeing.

With this in mind, the Octagon & Westlands are working in partnership with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, and Dance in Health practitioners Samantha Gillingham and Carrie Madgwick, to develop and deliver Movement Through Cancer; creative dance and movement-based activity, specifically designed for anyone undergoing cancer treatment, in recovery and beyond.


Our Movement Through Cancer sessions offer a chance to explore moving and dancing to music in a relaxed, uplifting and fun environment. Dancers are supported throughout with seated and standing options, plus time to connect and chat over a free cup of tea or coffee at the end of every session.

From January to March 2024, we ran a pilot project of 10 weeks to ascertain the appetite and need for this project in this location.

The 10-week pilot was a huge success, and we were overjoyed by the feedback with 100% of participants reporting the sessions had a positive impact on their lives and helped them to better manage their health and wellbeing over the 10 weeks.

Participants who regularly attended our sessions noticed a reduction in stress and anxiety, ability to move more freely and increased feelings of positivity. They noticed improvements in fitness levels, their mood was uplifted during and after sessions, and they felt a boost in confidence.

Over the 10-weeks we have seen a wonderful, supportive community establish within the group, as a sense of belonging and new friendships formed, helping to reduce isolation and loneliness. Participants also reported finding joy in the artistic, creative process, as the classes provided a joyful, creative outlet, away from a medical environment. Dancers told us that they have started to regain ownership of their own body again after treatment and are starting to feel a renewed sense of self-confidence.

This project has already achieved multiple outcomes, as it supports and helps participants’ physical, mental and social health & wellbeing to flourish, reducing pressure on local health care professionals and health systems. Whilst also providing volunteering opportunities as well as improving access to the arts and culture. 

Participants have said:

  • ‘I forget everything else going on in my life and I can be free, be me … these classes make me feel alive’
  • ‘Before the sessions I really felt very tired and stiff, joints ached - these symptoms are now much less.’
  • ‘I feel so energised and positive after the session’
  • ‘I haven’t smiled that much in so long!’
  • ‘I am regaining the confidence to move my body and dance again.’


A Healthcare Professional who recently visited a session, said: ‘When people receive a cancer diagnosis, they often loose trust in their bodies. Bodies become something that let you down, bodies are vulnerable and painful. Unfortunately, when treatment stops, the distrust continues, and this can feed into crippling health anxiety that impacts the patient for years to come.

Movement Through Cancer provides patients with a safe space to experience their bodies in a positive and joyful way. Giving patients the opportunity to reconnect and trust in their bodies again, reduces the impact of health anxiety and helps the patient develop a more confident sense of self moving forwards.’

This project has been made possible thanks to The Octagon Theatre becoming an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) and being awarded an investment of £760,000 to support arts and cultural activities in Somerset over the next three years. Becoming an NPO enables more opportunities for communities to watch, take part and benefit from arts and cultural activities, including a programme of education, community and health and wellbeing projects such as Movement Through Cancer.

If you, or anyone you know, could benefit from joining our Movement Through Cancer session, please click here for more info Movement Through Cancer (westlandsyeovil.co.uk) or email carrie.madgwick@somerset.gov.uk.


Movement Through Cancer

When: Monday's 1:30pm - 3pm
Where: Westlands Entertainment Venue, Yeovil, BA20 2DD

Summer Term: 22 April – 8 July (no sessions on 6 May, 27 May)

£4 suggested donation per week

For ages 18+
Spaces are limited so advanced booking is advised    

Free Parking. Step-free access. A carer / partner / friend is welcome to attend with you for free. 


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