UnLocking

Out of the Comfort Zone by Bonnford

UnLocking is a National Lottery funded project by Breathe Creative working in partnership with Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach Service in Cardiff. 

Participants met weekly in online sessions facilitated by Katja Stiller over a period of six months from July 2021 to January 2022. Using different art forms we explored and expressed our emotions during these strange times of COVID-19; we looked at how it feels to come out of Lockdown, out of our comfort zone, and how we could unlock ourselves and our creative potential. 

One group worked with animator Jane Hubbard and composer Jacob Meadowcroft to create the animation ‘Beyond the Lines’. Much of the artwork behind the animation is captured in a booklet and also in the exhibition ‘UnLocked’ which was launched online on January 7th 2022. The young people’s group worked with composer Tic Ashfield to record their creative writing and produce a soundscape and spoken word piece called ‘Through the Sands of Time’.

Artwork and words created by: Rhiannon, Sarah, Jacob, Bonnford, Jennifer, Debbie, Loraine, Jemima, Nick, Magdalena, Rain, Helen, Amy, Lianne, Aaron, Judith, Jet, Leandro, Shardine, Val. 

Supported by: Imogen Fallon, Millie Tucker, Callum Langley, Vishal Gaikwad, Ty Canna Outreach Service.

Gallery

UnLocking Book

Lottery Community Fund

World Mental Health Day – ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’

World Mental Health Day

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. 

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘mental health in an unequal world’. Research has shown that, since the beginning of the pandemic, some of the people struggling the most are those who were already facing considerable challenges in their lives.

World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for us to think about, talk about and share our experiences of mental health. 

In our projects we encourage participants to reflect on the things they can do for their own wellbeing as well as sharing the things they have been struggling with, offering creativity and relaxation techniques in a safe environment, and supporting participants to become active agents in their own recovery and wellbeing. We work in a  person-centred way, allowing individuals to go at their own pace. We offer different arts activities to help participants process their emotions and learning, to express themselves, to have fun and to gain a sense of achievement. We work in a collaborative way with the aim of increasing participants’ self awareness, self confidence, social and communication skills.

Some of our Creativity for Wellbeing groups have been exploring and expressing their thoughts on the mental health and inequality theme this week and they wanted to share their thoughts with you in their own words and pictures:

Mental Health in an Unequal World

When you are in hospital with a broken leg or pneumonia you get visited 

by family and friends, you get lots of get well soon cards, maybe even flowers.

When you are on a mental health ward, you may not even get a phone call for days, 

visits are even rarer, and you never get cards.

You are made to feel that being ill is your fault when it is not.

Family and friends may feel ashamed or afraid to help, 

afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing.

Different diagnoses bring different amounts of help and different stigma and stereotypes. 

If you have money you can pay for your own counselling or psychiatrist, 

if you do not you have long waiting lists, you have to fight for help and it may take years.

The benefits system keeps people in fear with endless assessments 

and the threat of benefits taken away as soon as any improvement is made 

instead of supporting people to work in a limited capacity.  

I long to be able to return to work, 

I long for freedom from fear and worry, 

but in an unequal system it often seems impossible.

Sarah

Mental Health In An Unequal World

Having a mental health illness in an unequal world means we face many challenges, so many barriers to overcome. Some of us are already facing inequalities because of our race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. This along with the stigma of having a mental health illness means we fight to be heard, to be seen, to be accepted, to receive help and be treated. 

I dream of a world where everyone is treated equally, where discrimination doesn’t exist and individuals don’t have to fight for equality. A place where race and ethnicity is celebrated, sexual orientation accepted and gender not judged. 

I dream of a world where all countries come together like a helping hand. A hand that provides the help so many desperately need. One that enables people to get the support and acceptance, without judgement. One that provides a platform to enable individuals to achieve their hopes and dreams. 

A world where is support is provided for all those with mental health illnesses, as well as their families and carers. Where stigma and discrimination has diminished. A world where human rights are respected and each person is seen as being unique and special. A place where mental health does not affect educational opportunities or job prospects. Where governments across the world provide the funds needed to pay for the mental health treatments so many need, closing the gap between those who are wealthy and those living in poverty.

These shouldn’t be dreams they should be reality. Making a change today, is a small step towards having an impact. An impact on reducing inequalities and improving mental health services to provide treatment and support for all. 

No one should be left behind. 

Rhiannon

These projects have been made possible with thanks to our invaluable funding and support from Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach Services, Cardiff Council, Mental Health Matters, The Baring Foundation, The Moondance Foundation, Mental Health COVID Response Fund, BAVO, InterLink RCT, Llynfi Afan Renewable Energy Park Community Benefit Fund, and The National Lottery Community Fund.

Small Steps

Wave Painting

Small Steps 

This summer we have been offering on-line creative wellbeing workshops for young people using different art forms to explore how the pandemic has been affecting us and the techniques that have helped us manage. We have been working with support from our partners Ty Canna Outreach Services in Cardiff and their young service users, with funding for this programme from The Community Lottery Fund and The Baring Foundation.

Through a variety of different creative exercises, such as free writing, word association and working with themes and prompts, our group worked hard to create an expressive piece which represents how they felt stepping outside after being inside for so long. Some of our main focuses were nature, dreams and our concept of reality as people who experience mental health conditions.

We think that the film they created film represents a universal shared experience of how sometimes the only steps we can take each day are the small ones, and also that by connecting with the outside world we can start to reconnect with our own inner landscapes to improve our sense of wellbeing.

Here is some of the feedback from the group:

Working on this project has been an absolute pleasure and we are indebted to Katja, and the rest of Breathe Creative, for their help and guidance to create such an outstanding piece of work. Everyone involved should feel very proud and appreciate the immense effort and creativity that has gone into making this project.

I enjoyed working on the film and I particularly liked working with the sound engineer to put the music and spoken words together. I found the project quite therapeutic and I’m pleased with the finished result. I hope that whoever watches the film and listens to it will feel a sense of comfort and companionship and the awareness that they are not alone in the way that they fee l… The film is particularly good for encouraging and practicing mindfulness meditation as you focus on the sounds, words and images.

This art that we were able to compose as a group has been a coming together of incredible minds.  Sharing the colours of our lived experiences, thoughts and emotions paints a picture that is unique yet universal to all of us.  We are all under one sky, seeing with different lenses.

I can relate to the video. I feel trapped myself; the video will help others to understand what it is like to struggle with your mental health.

Breathe Creative has been a fantastic opportunity to communicate and share a creative experience with like-minded people. It is a welcome new addition to my weekly routines and I have found the expressive writing exercises to be particularly beneficial to my mental health. In this project we were able to work with Tic Ashfield, a music composer and sound engineer. Tic showed us how to manipulate the audio that we had recorded. As an aspiring music producer this was an incredible learning experience for me, I thoroughly enjoyed watching her bring our creations to life. I am grateful to have taken part in this project and would recommend it to anyone who’s struggling with their mental health and wants to express their creative flare!

Being involved in the Small Steps project was inspirational. Such a joy to see such creativity and individuality from everyone involved. The diversity and variety of ideas was incredible and how everyone came up with such good, different ideas from the same brief was awesome. It’s amazing what we can create when we work as a team!

‘Future Dreaming’ Animation Launch

Future Dreaming

This beautiful animated film was created during the COVID-19 pandemic in our ‘Capturing Moments’ online (and community) Creativity for Wellbeing project. This project celebrated the creativity of women living in the Bridgend Borough and explored issues around isolation, connection, life, relationships, good times and hard times, and the things that were important to the women involved.

Using original artwork and creative writing from the group, animator Jane Hubbard created this short film with specially composed music by group member Andrea Rees. The project was funded by the Mental Health Covid Response Fund.

‘Capturing Moments’ Exhibition Film

An online exhibition celebrating the creativity of women in Bridgend Borough, South Wales, supported by the Mental Health Covid Response Fund. The women worked with Breathe Creative online once a week to capture, through writing and art, their shared Lockdown experiences. These moments have been full of laughter, support and togetherness. They have illustrated how sharing creativity can strengthen us during difficult times.

Another creation by this wonderful group is ‘Future Dreaming’, an animation using original artwork and creative writing from the group, produced by Animator Jane Hubbard with specially composed music by Capturing Moments member Andrea Rees. This will be launched online in July 2021.

Our artists have been so amazing and prolific. We will finally be having an ‘in person’ exhibition of the latest art, creative writing and digital stories that have been produced as part of this project. The exhibition will take place in September 2021.

‘Beyond the Label’ Mental health project final report

Lockdown Map 2020
Lockdown Life 2020

In 2020 we partnered with Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach service in Cardiff, a Cardiff-based citywide recovery-focussed Outreach service for people with mental health needs.

Over a period of three months, from May to July 2020, service users met weekly online to create artwork and writing for an animation that reflects their lived experiences of mental health conditions.

The extra challenges of lockdown meant that collaborators weren’t able to meet in person, but this was overcome to produce this rich and wonderful collection of work, a selection of which was used by Jane Hubbard to create the animation.

As well as this, contributors worked with composer and sound artist John Rea to create individual sound pieces of themselves reciting their poetry, sometimes singing and playing instruments.

Check out our full final report on this fantastic project which was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

‘Beyond the Label’ Project, World Mental Health Day ‘Diamond’ Film Launch

Blue bird flying high

We are so proud to launch our project ‘Beyond the Label’, working creatively and using Arts for Wellbeing with funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and working  in collaboration with Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach service in Cardiff.

Over a period of three months, from May to July 2020, service users met weekly online to create artwork and writing for an animation that reflects their lived experiences of mental health conditions.

The extra challenges of lockdown meant that collaborators weren’t able to meet in person, but this was overcome to produce this rich and wonderful collection of work, a selection of which was used by Jane Hubbard to create the animation.

As well as this, contributors worked with composer and sound artist John Rea to create individual sound pieces of themselves reciting their poetry, sometimes singing and playing instruments.

Many thanks to contributors: Jen, Judith, Nick, Sarah, Mandy, Maddy, Ellie, Kate

Special Thanks to Lewis Rigley and Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach Service

Facilitators: Katja Stiller and Sarah Featherstone

Animator: Jane Hubbard

Composer and Sound Artist: John Rea

We would like to thank the Lottery for financially supporting this project. 

Community Fund