Well-being through creative activity

You say tomato, I say “spicy tomato salsa”

Managers Blog: You say tomato is say “spicy tomato salsa”

This week has been one of frazzling proportions for the senior volunteers at S2C. Just so much to do and get sorted. It has also been a week of highs and some lows for me personally in relation to moving S2C onward. Be warned, there is the potential for a rant here somewhere but we will see how it goes.

Well no actually, lets not, let’s get straight to the ranty bit! One of the things that really gets me quite hot under the collar is when people refer to S2C as “an art group”. For a start the “an” implies singular when the S2C community has over ten organisations running fourteen different sessions in the week with various collaborations alongside S2C’s stand alone sessions. The Space2Create unit is very clearly in our minds a Creative Community that is inclusive of all those who use it, visit it, engage with it or benefit from its presence regardless of their age, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, illness, condition or situation.

This has been triggered by two things……first was one of those events that contributed to the busy week, a funding fair up at the Rugby Club. It was great to talk to a number of funders who were able to help and advise us and were absolutely brilliant in suggesting approached and ideas. One of those funders present completely wound me up however. This is where the “art group” was mentioned where within in moments of sitting down they drew upon a previous casual encounter and very quickly were being very  dismissive of “our” funding priorities based it seemed to me an assumption that because we use art we were “just another art group” without actually looking closer at what we do.

This fuelled my speech to the visitors at the opening of “Abstract Distractions” where I was somewhat wound up about that. The speech was delayed as myself and the Chair were talking to somebody (more about that later) and I actually found myself so angry about it that unusually I almost let emotion get the better of me. As I was talking I was getting a lump in the throat. The point that got me was when I looked at the artwork work on the wall from “the art group” I could see the person behind the artwork and knew the back story of each piece. To impress on people to look at the “art” with understanding that the person who created it may have been contemplating suicide the night before. May have been fighting with an alcohol addiction, may not have had any meaningful contact with other people for days before attending the group, may have been living in fear of abuse, may have been facing another night of pain, may have been wondering how to afford their next meal, may be fighting extreme anxiety.

One last bit to the ranty part. I also had someone say from another organisation “Our clients aren’t well enough to be ready to attend your groups”…….

So, what lifted me this week. It was fantastic to be able to go and give a presentation to the Kendal Integrated Care Community where we made very welcome and had the opportunity to show and discuss what we actually do beyond being an art group that those present very much understood and appreciated. Some potentially interesting links and opportunities may well arise from that to benefit our service users and the wider community.

It has also been great to get some very positive feed back from the James Cochrane Practice about how much the new artwork up ta the Helme Chase Surgery is being appreciated as well as from patients who have let us know how much they enjoyed seeing it while waiting for their appointments.

During the exhibition opening (reason the speeches were late) we were talking to a visitor from the County Council who I found quite refreshing. It was one of those conversations where in the first instance you are a bit unsure and then realise that the person is actually trying to help you. What I liked about it was that there were no ambiguities or platitudes. Somebody who spoke their mind and told it as it was. Brilliant. Wish there were more of it in the World. The end result of the conversation was several opportunities to get help and advice from people who were very well qualified to give it. We thank them for that.

The most inspiring thing this week however was a phone call from an individual who told me that prior to attending a session at S2C they had been struggling with suicidal thoughts, involved with the crisis team and Samaritans without being able to break out of their low. The difference had been a morning of throwing paint around in supportive company such that they had been lifted and inspired to feeling more positive and thanking us for that. If we can do that even just once in a week then it has all been worth while.

Some of the work this week by our “art group”


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