I know it is really hard to turn up to something new when you feel like crap or your entire being is dragging you into some kind of void that wants to keep you locked up inside. Been there. What got me going was my CPN dragging me to this place where there were other people. I was doing art with other people instead of hiding away and being alone.
It was a big step on a very long journey in my recovery. From the small start, regaining the skill in socialising, gaining confidence through painting and becoming steadily more involved. Building resilience by being supported through protected mishaps within the group that had no immediate impact beyond the table that gave the skills to then use that resilience when faced with the real world problems we all encounter.
So coming along to S2C and walking through the door is a big thing. As it is with many of the charities supporting people in the local area. We use art as our medium of activity. You do not need to be an artist. You do not need to become and artist. Just being there is enough, building those relationships, skills, confidence and resilience that will help you move on and tackle life.
You can come along and sit with everyone and have a coffee, matter, or stay silent. Have a go or not. We value everyone who attends and support them to be creative or just to be. I have reached a point where what helps me is having some responsibility and using my experience to help others. Some of our volunteers are in the same position having regained enough confidence to start giving back to others.
It does not matter what the problem or issue or health condition is the fact that you need support and you need to be with other understanding, sympathetic and supportive people is enough for us. Getting through the door is the toughest part but once there it becomes much easier and as you build confidence and resilience it becomes even easier until it’s not a problem.
That’s why if your thinking about it, you should come!
This weeks pictures by the brave:
One of the biggest strengths of S2C, I always feel, is that there is a real community within those that attend. Well maybe community is not strong enough, some have called it the S2C “Family”. That comes from the knowledge that everyone is the same at S2C regardless of what role they play or the problems they have. It also comes from the knowledge that when you do have a problem there are those around you who will support you and try to help you.
The thing you need to be aware of is to avoid it becoming a closed community. New people should always feel welcome into it and not feel excluded because of the simple fact of unfamiliarity. A big part of this too is trust. It takes time to trust when you are fragile, as many of those are who attend S2C. Clearly there are roles and there are those who need to make decisions and take responsibility but even though they have that role that does not mean they need to be in any way less supportive or part of the family.
Working together as equals is important to the aim of rebuilding the confidence of those who attend. Not just the vulnerable service users recovering from issues, but also the volunteers who deal with all sorts of problems and issues in supporting those service users. In order for an organisation to create the feeling that everyone is valued and supported everyone is treated equally and everyone should know that when they need it the team is behind them.
When you know you have that support and community with you then as a service user you can begin to build your recovery and as a volunteer you can build your confidence and skills. The result is that everyone grows together, at different speeds, at different rate and in different directions but the net gains are everyone’s.
We face things together and move things forward together.
It’s a shame that more of the world we live in does not work this way, it could only be a better place for it.
Some of the artwork from our community this week:
Not a normal post today. S2C is short of volunteers in certain key areas so over the coming weeks we will be advertising those roles. S2C started off very small and has been steadily growing over the last five years in what it does and the number of people it helps. We are now at that stage where growing more may well include some volunteer roles in the near future becoming paid roles as we source funding and develop our practice. So here we go with a really important position, that of Treasurer.
We are looking for a suitably experienced individual to join our Trustees as Treasurer. This role comes with some challenges as we look to develop. We would like the new Treasurer to help develop our accounting. Our banking and financial procedures need to be developed to take account of online access, credit card use, online shopping and sales, generation of accounts through appropriate software, invoicing, use of electronic payment such as Paypal.
The Treasurer will also take a hand in helping budget to ensure appropriate use of funds and look to help raise funds through grants, events and sponsorship with various funders and business partners.
In terms of the individual themselves we feel that it is very important they understand the ethos and ways S2C runs a Service User led organisation. We would like them to be part of the community at S2C and be willing to engage with our Service Users and groups from time to time. They should be suitably qualified and experienced to undertake the Treasurer role and be able to demonstrate some experience or appreciation of mental health. Experience of working with third sector organisations also useful.
As this is such an important role for us we are going to treat it more formally and ask those interested to apply by sending a CV with contact details for two references by email to email@example.com or by post to Mat Butler, Space2Create, Unit 31, The Factory, Aynam Road, Kendal, LA9 7DE by end of Friday 20th February.
I will be putting out details of a number of roles for volunteers in the coming weeks and updating the volunteer section on our web page to reflect this. S2C is looking to greatly expand its activity to support as many vulnerable people in our unique way as we can. We know it helps from our own experience and from those with us. The last year has shown an increasing and varied need in our local community and many opportunities to make their lives better through collaboration and creative partnerships. In a world where our government and is withdrawing from it’s social responsibilities and passing them on to those seeking profit from misfortune we need to do more for our communities in our communities.
This weeks art highlights
I think one of the biggest difficulties in life we all face is taking that first step into something new. In a New Year I can perfectly understand that people look ahead with anxiety given the difficult conditions that exist at the moment in terms of healthcare, economic and employment opportunities. Imagine then how those anxieties are for a person with a mental health condition.
As I often do I draw on my own experience and the experience of working and being with people going through a mental illness. I think back to the first day I attended the mental Health Charity Workbase (Now sadly closed). During my illness I had started painting and here was a place with a supportive team helping people get back into a social and working environment. So on my first day I arrived in a hoody, hood up, sat in a corner ignoring everyone and not speaking with head down working on a painting I had brought. The fact that I was there at all was a major achievement and took a lot of coaxing from my CPN at the time.
So I was reminded of this in the last few days with a flurry of enquiries from people being brave enough to make that initial contact by email to ask if they would be able to come or being anxious about taking that first step. I hope that Space2Create offers as non threatening an experience for the first time attendee as possible but it had me thinking what was it actually like?
So having established that it is a place they might want to come they then have to get to us. Quite a daunting prospect. If you have a social worker or CPN to support you in that initial visit then great it helps. Maybe a friend come along for the first session. It is hugely daunting though by yourself, to find the building, to walk through the door, to ask. Then to suddenly find yourself in the middle of a strange group of people doing some crazy art thing that they all seem to understand but maybe you don’t with your anxiety blocking your ability to participate and communicate well.
So we have thought on this and looked at how we can make it easier. We try to anyway. We try not to overface people, keep that first contact as simple and easy going as possible. Avoiding loads of facts and rules and names and forms and all the other things newness implies. It is an area we need to look at carefully I think because that first contact can be the difference between somebody getting help and improving their life or disappearing again into isolation.
Please don’t be afraid to come to S2C under any circumstances. Everybody is welcome regardless of their condition, age, gender, ethnicity or any classification society wishes to impose. You are, to us, simply somebody who needs us.
Some of the artwork this last week.