Katy blogs about how holding a crafternoon in the rain helped start conversations about mental health and led to a starring role in our first Crafternoon film.
Craft and mental health have been central features of my life over the last few years as an independent papercraft demonstrator, recovering from PTSD following the birth of my twins. When I spotted a Facebook post in October 2014, encouraging people to come together to hold a crafternoon and raise money for Mind, it struck a chord and I signed up to find out more. I loved the idea but having just moved to a new town, I didn’t know anyone and it’s just not the conversation I was ready to start in the street. I followed the story on Facebook, and was inspired by others who had held successful events. It didn’t matter if it was two people or 10 getting together – they were all having a good time and I wanted to be part of that.
I spent the early part of 2015 dreaming, planning, and researching. Deciding what I wanted my event to look like, deciding it was going to be big. I visited lots of village halls to find the perfect one. I wrote letters asking for discounts for the event. I struck lucky and got a great deal on a lovely hall, with a big serving hatch – perfect for the tea and cakes that I had roped the local WI ladies in to donate and serve. I invited local businesses to have a table at the events – and their table fee paid for the hall and the advertising. I printed leaflets, and hand-delivered them around the local streets.
Finally the day of the event came and disaster – the weather was horrendous! We had gale force winds and howling rain. We had 12 visitors walk through the door and although everyone kept telling me what a great time they were having, I just felt awful. After thanking everyone for their help and cleaning up, I went home sad.
"I realised it’s not all about who turns up or the money raised, I’d opened the conversation with people about mental health – and that’s what really mattered."
Then the phone started ringing, people I didn’t know, ringing to apologise that they didn’t make it due to the weather but wanting to thank me for my efforts, and encouraging me to hold another. Suddenly I realised it’s not all about who turns up or the money raised, I’d opened the conversation with people about mental health – and that’s what really mattered. From just 12 months before, shying away from having the conversation with my newly acquired friends, now I was metaphorically shouting it from the rooftops and putting it in print.
Life in 2016 has been pretty hectic, I didn’t have time to organise a big event this year. My crafternoon involved inviting friends to an afternoon of crafting, where I ‘fined’ them for turning up without a treat for the table. When I saw on the crafternoon Facebook group that Mind were asking for volunteers to head into London to take part in filming a crafternoon, it was perfect. It meant I could help make a big difference and raise awareness to a large audience without giving up as much of my time.
I had an absolutely brilliant day travelling down to London, to eat cake and craft. The other people at the crafternoon made me feel very welcome, and that’s the thing about crafters – it doesn’t matter what our background, we all love helping each other out and complimenting our neighbours’ makes. As a papercrafter, fabric and a sewing needle are not my usual tools but I was game for a try. I made a bear which – although it looks like it was made by a 5-year-old – is a bear I’m very proud of. Would you like to see it?
Then I am very pleased to introduce... Crafternoon, the movie!
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.