For me, change starts with a conversation; after that, it's about having the right tools to become the change you want to see. The projects I manage have to do with engaging people in dialogue, and supporting them to feel empowered. Please see below for more information.
Conversations and Workshops
I used to run various drop-in surgeries for leading eating disorder charity b-eat, and Greenpeace, which involved setting up an area within a local community - the backroom of a theatre, or a seminar room in a library, for example - and facilitating a discussion, with a view to inform and signpost. I then became involved with more 'mobile' projects through the charity b-eat, which were all about liaising with local meeting groups and businesses, and delivering presentations on eating disorders.
In my experience, both set-ups worked really well; people were having these important conversations in their own communities and on their terms. I felt this was really important, because it helped to foster the idea that certain topics - like mental health - are not taboo, and nor are they the preserve of the medical or therapeutic 'elite.' I also developed 'support for carers' workshops for Student Minds, which aim to support and offer information to students who have friends/relatives with an eating disorder, bringing together different perspectives and experiences.
After a few years off working on other projects, it's my aim to bring these types of drop-in forums back. I am developed the following projects, which I deliver on a freelance basis:
If you are interested in any of the following projects, please get in touch, and I'll get back to you.
Focus on mental health: a conversation
Once a month, I organise a drop-in surgery with a mental health focus, each time in a different community. The aims are:
- To facilitate a discussion on mental health and mental illness, where people can ask questions and reflect on key concerns
- To signpost to various organisations that can support people who are concerned about a friend or family member, or someone who is struggling with their own mental health
- To support people to start their own conversations on mental health
- To introduce and facilitate a discussion on the current paradigms surrounding mental health and mental illness
*Please note, the group is not a self-help group, although part of its purpose is to sign post to organisations that offer that kind of service. It is an informal space in which people can share ideas and learn from one another: its purpose is informative, rather than therapeutic. My role is to facilitate conversation and share ideas on how to take the conversation further.
Support for friends and families
This day-long workshop offers support for anyone struggling with their mental health. It covers mental health as considered from a range of perspectives, including medical and therapeutic models, alongside self-awareness, active listening, self-care and personal limitations; the workshop also signposts to other organisations with more case-specific information.
Service user involvement in service development
This workshop offers a framework for meaningful service-user involvement in the development of your organisation, taking into account current legislation and examples of good practice.
Observation, castigation and satire are all well and good, but this website is just as much about improving the current narrative as it is chortling at it. So once a month, as long as I'm in the country, you'll find me on the streets talking to people about the importance of campaigning for positive change in their community. I'll go armed with my ipad, a campaign starter kit (available here) and big smiles, and I'll start conversations with people about how to meet with their MP, how to launch a campaign, how to get involved with current campaigns in their area and how to lobby.
If you'd like to join me, please get in touch. It would be great to have you along; I'm usually in the north of England, but I move around, and will let you know about impending campaigns on my blog!
I blog about my experiences as an active member of and fundraiser for various charities, with a view to encourage membership, highlight the difficulties faced by NFPs and raise awareness on a separate platform to those which pertain to the charities themselves. I am a passionate believer in fundraising and volunteering, as long as it is done alongside awareness raising, and on the condition that it supplements government support or campaigns for it. That way, charity work can be done sustainable and equitably.