Making a creative difference
Posted Friday 2 December 2011
Looking ahead to Big Give week, Nhys from Craven Mind writes about how a Local Mind Grant enabled them to involve more people than ever in a creative new project.
Craven Mind is a very small local Mind that promotes health and wellbeing in the Craven District, one of the largest and most sparsely populated areas in England.
Run totally by volunteers up until this year, it had only a monthly meeting as its focus. But this year we employed a Project Worker for ten hours a week to get more activities and events happening.
The Creative Confidence Project was one such activity. The Local Mind Grant Fund provided us with £2,000 of the £2,450 we needed to offer a two strand course, the first of which offered arts and crafts.
These courses were designed to provide social engagement and build confidence by giving a creative focus to adults leaving secondary mental health services.
They were also open to other vulnerable and isolated adults in the community who didn’t meet NHS criteria and were unable to access more costly or unsupported activities.
The art group ran for 11 weeks and was attended by up to 15 people on any one day, with an average attendance of eight students per session.
It was run in partnership with Pioneer Projects, an arts-based local organisation, whose special skills provided us with the knowhow we were lacking.
Many of the group have since become active members of Craven Mind, with the confidence to share their opinions on the future direction of the organisation. A spin-off group run by volunteers is also starting soon.
We had planned to run a singing group as the second strand of the project but this didn’t generate as much interest.
Instead, we decided to offer an eight-week online writing for wellbeing course. This allowed people who couldn’t travel to Skipton to develop a close, sharing community online.
Being listened to was the most powerful aspect of this activity for one man, who was a full time carer to his 90-year-old mother and her sister.
The flexibility of writing, and reading other people’s work, when it suited him was also perfect for his lifestyle.
A 70-year-old grieving widow who took part found it wonderful to feel not alone in her experience with loss:
It is so strengthening to realise that this human condition with all its vicissitudes is something we all have to go through, and that we might be alone but we really aren't alone in our experiences.
The Local Mind Grant Fund gave us substantially more funding than we had initially asked for.
This allowed us to increase the number of weeks we ran the art class, enabled us to hire a support worker to assist the more vulnerable members of the art group, and helped offset administration and refreshment costs.
They were a wonderful when we had to do a quick change of activities, wholly supporting our decision to offer the online writing course instead of the singing group.
With the funding provided by the Local Mind Grant Fund our little Mind association has been able to meet a longstanding need within our community.
It gave us the chance to build our activities and get more people involved in our work, as well as to network more effectively with other far flung organisations in our district.
More people know about us and what we can offer than ever before.
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