Our plans for 2014……want to be involved?

Happy New Year to you. We hope you’ve had a good festive period and are raring to go with your latest creative idea and ways to help manage a mental health condition or to help tackle mental health stigma. We are. Here’s what we’ve got planned for 2014, as we continue our development….

We’ve received an offer of funding from Time to Change Wales, to carry out a project that will either take place in the Rhondda Cynon Taf or Merthyr Tydfil areas, and will involve up to 15 participants, drawn from the health, voluntary and community sectors, along with mental health service users and/or members of local peer support groups. The participants will come together for a range of creative workshops – in a non-clinical setting – to enable discussions around mental health, where alternative methods to recovery will be explored, along with an increased awareness that will tackle stigma. The creative workshops will be for 2 hours per week, for 10 weeks and will produce one or more artistic outputs, such as an exhibition or film, that will be disseminated online and in community and health settings. We hope this particular project will take place between March and June.

One of our co-chairs, Maggy Corkhill, is leading on the development of a new mental health arts magazine. Maggy has done a lot of research into the idea and has sought help from business support and mental health organisations. Inspired by the Big Issue and One in Four magazine, Maggy, with support from the Making Minds team and others, will look to launch the publication one Local Health Board area at a time. There is potentially a lot of scope for volunteers to get involved in the production of the magazine and Maggy will have an update for you in due course.

For some time, Mark, our other co-chair, has been inspired by the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival and the First Fortnight festival in Ireland. Mark has suggested that Making Minds plays a key role in organising a mini festival this year, with events in a handful of local authority areas in South Wales, during World Mental Health Week.

Making Minds could be directly involved in some events, while supporting other organisations to host their own events. Early ideas include a repeat of Cardiff Mind Fest (1 or 2 day music event), a Making Minds seminar followed by our inaugural AGM (featuring a series of guest speakers / performers); Kira, one of our co-treasurers hosting an exhibition at the Model House in Llantrisant; an event at the art gallery at Cyfarthfa Museum, and so on. Who’s to say this couldn’t involve film screenings, a comedy night, poetry recitals, open mic nights, dance performances, public art – we’re open to all ideas. We could also help to bring arts and creativity to this year’s World Mental Health Day events that are hosted by local authorities. All of this has a lot of scope for volunteering opportunities.

Why shouldn’t it happen? There’s space for it in the events calendar; we have the venues, talent and funding sources to make it happen, so let’s do it!

A mental health arts co-operative consortium for South Wales, which will be explored early in the New Year, could be the main source of organisers for the festival.

On that point, Mark is organising a meeting for this month or next, at which representatives from a number of community arts, mental health and business support organisations have already agreed to attend. The meeting will explore the potential for some of the organisations to come together, to form a co-operative consortium. It’s felt that such a consortium could strengthen the role of the arts in the provision of community based mental health services, organising events where art and creativity can help to raise awareness of mental health and help to identify individual artists that can be supported by Making Minds.

We’re also in the process of expanding our management committee, to ensure we have enough capacity to achieve as much of the above as possible. This, in turn, will hopefully make it easier for us to develop volunteering opportunities for people, ensure good governance of the organisation and consider offers from other organisations, to get involved in their projects and proposals.

Above all else, we must continue to put our health first. As you may know, the majority of members on the current Making Minds management committee have direct experience of mental ill health and we’re all working on Making Minds as volunteers, on top of day jobs. This is why we have ‘co’ roles on the executive committee, so we can support each other, particularly if one or more members experience a period of ill health, and ensure continuity of work. We want to say ‘yes’ to as many things as we can, but we also need to be realistic and there will be times where we will have to say ‘no’.

2014 looks like being a good one. We hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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