Spring to Life has re-commenced it’s well-being programme with Freedom from Torture titled ‘Freedom to Create’, starting with a a textiles workshop. There will be five textiles sessions creating work to celebrate Freedom From Torture West Midland’s 10th Anniversary.
For the first session participants were engaged and produced very sensitive work. They painted and printed fabric that will be used to create textile pieces in future sessions.
During the Autumn of 2018 Gillian Lever (Art for Wellbeing Practitioner) and Wai-Ling Bickerton (Chartered and Health Professional Council registered Clinical Psychologist) co-facilitated a series of ‘Art for Wellbeing’ group sessions for Younger Adults at Birmingham Jesus Centre, 66 Gooch Street North, Highgate B5 6QU.
The session model was built on the Spring to Life pilot project which took place at BJC from April to June 2018 which included a community engagement day and an ‘Art for Wellbeing’ group for Women and Children.
Our vision was to offer structured group support with collaborative intervention by an Art for Wellbeing practitioner and Clinical Psychologist. The aims of the group were to improve psychological wellbeing, to increase individual group member’s social confidence and to enable verbal and non-verbal self-expression through participation in creative activities and conversation in a safe and therapeutic environment. The group facilitated individuals with diverse social and cultural backgrounds, and with different languages, to share and enjoy a time of creativity, reflection and mindful actions, even when many of them were going through highly challenging times in their lives. Within a few sessions, we witnessed the development of increased confidence expressed through their artwork, and their interactions with the group.
We were encouraged by the overwhelming positive feedback, and have learnt valuable insights into the needs and presentation of the clientele served by the BJC. We aim to run more sessions for Younger Adults in 2019. (The Young Adults we were worked with were18-25 years old, registered with a Birmingham GP and eligible for Forward Thinking Birmingham low intensity psychological therapy service, based on the initial screening assessment). Gillian Lever and Wai-Ling Bickerton January 2019.
Funded by Cars Area Together we delivered our first well-being programme at Auckland Hall, Cars Area, located in Smithswood. On Wednesday afternoons we ran regular mindfulness sessions, while on Saturday mornings we ran a mix of Creative therapies. This included Art, African drumming, Reading for Well-being, Dance and Movement therapy, as well as a session on Stress and anxiety management – leading up to Christmas!
The process of promoting the programme in the local community has in itself proved highly beneficial, as we created good connections with people and groups in the area.
Here are a few comments by people who took part in the programme:
“In such a short period of time, I have found myself able to recognize the healing value and benefits of connection, especially with like-minded people. For the 1st time in years, I can see a positive future for myself, full of possibilities”.
“I have learnt a lot from each session facilitator and have enjoyed all my interactions with them, and have learned a lot about myself. I have also made contacts with other attendees outside of the sessions, which is great!”.
From a regular participant of our mindfulness sessions: “Make some time for you, this will be an hour well spent. You can leave calm, relaxed and refreshed – all you need to do is sit and breathe”.
We are very pleased to announced that due to the reception to this initial programme, our funding has been extended for the new year next September 2019. Because of the lower attendance on the Saturday sessions, both Mindfulness and the Creative therapies will be on weekdays. On the next stage of the Creative therapies programme, each month will be dedicated to a single therapy running over a few weeks. Details of these to be confirmed.
Aside from our well-being work, Spring to Life has been busy over the last few months building its network and making links with a range of organisations doing great work in the West Midlands. As part of this we have attended different networking events where we have exhibited our services and built new connections.
On the 10th of October (World Mental Health Day) Spring to Life attended the “Being Well Works Well” Conference organised by Common Unity. It’s aims were to “provide networking opportunities locally, regionally and nationally in respect of the well-being agenda, highlight upstream services being delivered currently under The Connecting Community Networks programme, present new and innovative approaches that seek to ensure early engagement with wellbeing support opportunities and actively promote the opportunity for improved well-being in a range of arenas”.
On the 12th of October we were invited to attend the launch of a major Social Prescribing initiative by the Witton Lodge Community Association. This provided insight into the immense possibilities of this growing trend in social prescribing. Spring to Life has previously provided well-being programmes at Witton Lodge Community Association, and is part of its vast network of groups and people doing work in the local community. Social prescribing is the practice of GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals, of referring people with physical or mental health needs to projects and activities out in the community. This may include activities such as gardening, cooking, sports or arts.
In November we attended the the iSE (Institute of Social Enterprise) launch of ‘Birmingham Social Enterprise City’ event. This was held on the 15th of November in order to coincide with national social enterprise day. Birmingham has the largest number of social enterprises in the UK outside of London, and is now officially a Social Enterprise City, being part of a national network of cities.
Finally, in November members of Food Forest Brum/Fruit and Nut Village Stirchley attended a mini-conference at Birmingham City University (BCU) concerning the vision to create the West-Midlands National park. This is a pioneering vision held and developed by Kathryn Moore, professor at BCU in Landscape Design to develop West-Midlands including its urban areas into a national park, connecting parks, allotments, other green spaces as well as the general urban environment into a National park. As part of this there would also be the involvement of local groups and communities working on themes such as mental well-being to be part of the network that support this vision. Check out Kathryn Moore’s article about the idea: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jun/20/welcome-to-brumbria-should-the-west-midlands-become-a-national-park.
A common theme running through these events seemed to be on exploring how we connect the individual to their wider community. The growth of the social prescribing approach, illustrates the increasing awareness of the value that being part of our community and environment has on our psycho-emotional health – and which in turn has a positive impact on their community and environment. Its been inspiring too see recently, even in just Birmingham alone, the number of people and groups with this goal in mind.