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Building the Elephant's new home

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 Tracey

Tracey blogs about our new online community where you can listen, share and be heard.

About a month ago, the Elephant (or the Ele as we call him) made a shout out for his Elefriends to test his new website.  As I was one of the Elefriends that met up last year to help with ideas on where he should go I jumped at the chance.

The day was also a great opportunity to meet up with an Elefriend I had befriended online but never met before. We were interviewed about our experiences of using the Ele page on Facebook and it was a perfect opportunity for us both to reflect on how the page had developed and what we would like to see on the new website.

We both agreed wholeheartedly that space was seen as a community, for people to drop in and out whenever they needed help or were able to offer support to others too. A little family has been growing and we have our resident Elefriends who never fail to say good morning or good night to everyone, even if morning starts at 2am for some. This may seem something small but it means so much to so many people to just know that they are there.

The website testing was in a building that was fit just for the purpose of bringing fun and entertainment to his friends’ lives. There was a helter skelter and space hoppers for us to play on. Though, more importantly, the Ele had made some new friends that he wanted us to meet. They were the lovely people who built his new home for him.

Ele now has brightly decorated walls with plenty of light shining in. He even has his own little sofa just for him to sit and talk with all of his new friends. Of course he welcomes all of his friends personally, as a good host should, to make sure that friends coming to his house know that he will do whatever he can to make them comfortable.

I was asked before the testing not to peek at the website so that I could give my honest opinion on how things were developing. So when I got my hands on the computer I felt honoured to have been asked to try things out. I was even asked to comment on the Ele’s welcome message on the home page. Though how could I say anything bad about the person who done the voiceover? Have a look and you’ll see why.

There were little scenarios that we had to play out; like how to sign up, read messages and reply to posts. The whole process was easy and user friendly. I found myself whizzing through the website like I had been using the site forever, though I had only been there minutes.

Since the testing I have signed up myself and found it rather exciting that I can look for Elefriends that I became close to on the Facebook page. I have also been able to make friends with new people that are new to Ele’s world.

What I really like about Ele, his room and his website is that you’re not labelled by your illness. You are you and whatever you bring to the room is never judged or patronised.

While Elefriends have different conditions, we all have the same thing in common, mental illness. There is such diversity in the room that there is always someone there who can support you or offer a shoulder to cry on.  Ele seems a dab hand at giving out trunk hugs at the right times too.

Personally I feel very lucky to know Ele. I was there when he was born, watched him take his first few steps in the world of Facebook and now I get to see him move out of home and into his new little palace.  

I do hope that you can drop by sometime soon to say hello to Ele and his friends, and join in this wonderful community. You are always welcome, anytime.

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