Good News if You Don’t Like Support Groups

Are you wary of support groups?

Do you hate people looking at you?

Dislike feeling pressured to speak?

We get it.

Listen now: Trace Jared-Davis and Emma Sprawson talk about why Mindful Art Club is different, and why social connections are now more important than ever.  You will also learn why you don’t need to be Van Gogh to join in with this art club.

This interview was first broadcast on Omnium Radio, Plymouths Community Radio on o5th March 2021.

How We Started Offering Immediate Mental Health Support, Without Any Waiting Lists

When Emma and Peggy suddenly lost the jobs they loved, they started a business on a shoestring, to offer mindful art groups, support mental health and tackle social isolation in the Plymouth area.

Mental health services were already overstretched and the pandemic has made that even worse. Mindful Art Club gives people a way to access help and support immediately, without a waiting list, and without finances being a barrier to access.

Emma and I are helping to create a world where peer support, mindfulness, creative activities, and social connection is more easily available in local communities. 

Peggy Melmoth

Watch Now:

If you’ve ever felt stressed, anxious or depressed, we have a free downloadable mindful colouring bundle with zen doodling exercises for you. Just enter your email now to receive our colouring bundle today, and we will write to you monthly to let you know about our latest free and low-cost events in the Plymouth area.

Yes please, send me free stuff!

* indicates required

Free Printable Mandala Template

Drawing a mandala doesn’t have to be complicated. Mindful art means drawing without self-judgement. Get in the flow and enjoy being in the moment without putting any expectations onto yourself.

Use our free printable mandala template as a guide. Just place some plain paper over the top and trace the segmented circle image. Then fill in the separate parts with zen doodles, patterns, positive affirmations, things you are good at, or things that you are grateful for. Check out some examples done by people who come to our mindful art groups. The important thing is to have fun with it.

You may also like this short video of Peggy and Emma: How to Draw a Mandala.

Feeling isolated? Stick on an hour long video recording of one of our classes in the background, and enjoy some coffee, creativity and company. (You will need to be on Facebook to see these videos.)

Can’t be bothered to draw your own mandala? We get that! Colour in a ready-made mandala instead, included in our free mindful colouring bundle.

Zen Doodles: 3 Week Course Online

We are happy to be launching a new online course with Devon Recovery Learning Community.

Zen doodling is a kind of meditative drawing practice which can be used to easily calm your mind.  Zen doodles are just repeating patterns; no artistic talent is required.

Zen doodling combines meditation and art.  Learn to practice relaxation exercises and art for self-care. The session includes five minutes of guided mindfulness, a simple art project that can be done at home just with felt tip pens, and the opportunity to chat while we are making the zen doodles and to relax.

In this course you will create zen doodles while learning about the philosophy and benefits of zen doodling:

  • Improves mental health
  • Improves social connection
  • Teaches new skills (relaxation exercises and art for self- care).

We start with a ‘check in’ to see how everyone is feeling. There is no obligation to speak if you don’t want to. We end the group with a ‘check out’ to share how everyone is feeling after making zen doodles.

This online, three week course will start on Thursday 4th March, then the 11th and 18th March.

Booking is essential and places are limited: Zen Doodles Book Now

You may also like: Create Your Recovery.

Not ready for an online course? Try zen doodling at home instead, with our free mindful colouring bundle.

New Art Groups to Start After Lockdown

Who are Mindful Art Club?

Are they a business, a charity, a CIC or a community group?

And what are they going to do next?!

Mindful Art Club® is an unincorporated association. We have a small group constitution and a management committee. We recently held our annual general meeting to report on the organisation’s activities. The three trustees were present: Emma, Peggy and Clare, and the minutes were circulated to our regular volunteers, Lee and Linda.

First Emma reported on our funding bids. We were unsuccessful in two bids since the last general meeting. However we have been successful in bids with Comic Relief, Sparks Community Fund and have also received £250 from Plymouth Octopus Project. Emma is about to submit another bid to POP and a bid for Arts Council funding to run two groups.

Because of this funding Peggy reported that the following groups will begin after the current lockdown restrictions end.

  1. Sunflower Women’s Centre on Mondays, funded by Comic Relief.
  2. Zoom on Tuesdays funded by individual donations.
  3. Ivybridge Salvation Army to start after lockdown, funded by DRLC
  4. Emma to start a Friday group at The Clipper in Union Street, Plymouth funded by Sparks Community Fund.
  5. Various online courses to be funded by Devon Recovery Learning Community.
  6. Friday afternoons at Ocean Studios to be funded by Community Sparks Fund.
  7. Rees Centre, wellbeing course, Tuesday evenings funded by individuals.

Since our last meeting we have networked with a lot of different community organisations including Devon Mind, the Wolsley Trust social prescribers, Plymouth Argyle, Shekinah Mission, Devon Recovery Learning Community and The Clipper.

We have decided to invest in regular professional supervision meetings with a mindfulness teacher, retreat host and counsellor.

We have written a six week course, Doodle Your Recovery, and a three week course Zen Doodles for DRLC which will be run on Zoom.

We have joined the Loneliness Action Group with Labour councillor Kate Taylor, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care.

We have been featured in The Plymouth Chronicle twice and Emma has been on PTown Radio and Omnium Radio.

We celebrated one year in business with a dinner party, and made a video of it and sent thank you cards as a PR activity. We promoted our anniversary on our website and social media.

And finally, Emma and Peggy have both completed a five week business course called AWE Sofa Sessions with Dartington School of Social Entrepreneurs.  Emma is now going to study the Nuts and Bolts of Business course with them.

To find out about when our next online courses and real life groups are launching join our mailing list now. As a thank you for joining, we’ll instantly send you a mindful colouring bundle with meditative art activities inside, to try at home.

Community Sparks Funds Mindful Art Club

It was great to see ourselves in The Stronger North Stonehouse Journal this month after winning a grant from their Community Sparks Fund to run mindful art groups in Stonehouse, Plymouth.

Stronger North Stonehouse is an initiative bringing local people together to create a stronger, safer and friendlier community in North Stonehouse, Plymouth. The Community Sparks Fund has just funded over 20 projects!

The scheme received 30 funding applications ranging from £150 to the maximum of £3,000.

All applications were assessed by a panel made up of members of the Safer Stonehouse Board and independent judges. The panel was asked to make recommendations based on the merit of the potential impact they could have in the community.

We have been awarded £1000 to deliver two different, weekly art groups in the Stonehouse area. One will be at The Clipper, Omnium Radio’s Community Hub, in Union Street. The other will be at Ocean Studios. Located in the historic surroundings of Royal William Yard, Ocean Studios is home to an array of resident and visiting artists who regularly host workshops, exhibitions and events for Plymouth’s creative community. We are able to work at Ocean Studios thanks to winning a place on the Start Something project, run by the Real Ideas Organisation.

The grant will help us to buy art materials, and market the project so that we can reach as many Stonehouse residents as possible. The funding will also allow us to cover our ongoing costs such as administration, staff time, project planning, insurance, and project impact evaluation.

These Stonehouse venues are large enough to allow socially distanced support groups to take place. Although the UK is currently experiencing a mental health crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, personal finances can be a barrier to local people needing to access support. This grant will help us to offer our services to people struggling with poor mental health, social isolation, poverty or addiction.

If you would like a place in one of these Stonehouse groups, which will be up and running after the current lockdown restrictions end, please contact us now. Places are limited.

She Let Go, a poem by Safire Rose

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

Safire Rose

Sometimes, mindfulness can be as simple as momentarily letting go of any thoughts about the past, or concerns about the future. It can be as easy as taking your pen for a walk and doodling on a blank page, letting go of any judgement of whether the image is good or bad.

Sometimes Emma likes to read out this poem, while people are drawing in our art sessions.

She Let Go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her.

And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

(c) 2003. Safire Rose

Safire Rose is a poet, teacher, speaker and spiritual life coach based in Los Angeles.

Now we’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on letting go? What did you think of the poem? Leave us a comment below.

Comic Relief to Fund Womens Group

We are pleased to have been granted new funding to offer mindful art sessions to any Plymouth women in need of support.

The Comic Relief Community Fund offer help for projects that are in line with their theme of Mental Health Matters. These are projects that support good mental health in communities, improve access to support and tackle stigma and discrimination.

This funding will allow us to deliver 12 weekly mindful art groups at The Sunflower Women’s Centre. The issues being tackled are social isolation and poor mental health. We address these problems by using creative activities to make it easier for clients to engage in meaningful conversations.

The Sunflower is a trauma-informed women’s wellbeing hub, providing opportunities for any woman who has support needs.  Women receive support in addressing and resolving substance abuse, childhood trauma, criminogenic behaviours, domestic violence or poor mental health. The centre offers a range of therapeutic activities, accredited programmes and practical support in a safe, nurturing, substance-free and valuing space for women to move from their pasts, develop their skills, regain their self-worth and go on to flourish and thrive. The Sunflower Centre has over 500 registered service users.

Mindful Art Club will offer these women peer support for common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. New friendships are formed in our groups which combat social isolation, and we will also teach new skills such as how to use mindfulness and art for self care.

We would not have received this funding without the generous help and support of the staff at The Sunflower Women’s Centre, and the funding advisors at POP. POP ideas is a service delivered by POP+ and Iridescent Ideas CIC that provides advice for small, large, new or established voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in Plymouth. 

Page 10, Plymouth Chronicle January 2021

If you’d like a place on one of these groups after the current lockdown ends, you will need to register with The Sunflower Women’s Centre and ask to be added to the waiting list for Mindful Art Club. Their staff is limited during lockdown, but you can leave a message at 01752 977614 . Groups at The Sunflower Centre are small, socially distanced, and organised with a number of Covid-19 safety measures in place. These sessions are permitted by current law, as support groups.

Here’s what some of our previous clients at The Sunflower Centre have said about us:

“I have found this group very helpful in my recovery. My biggest problem is ISOLATION. So to have this group is a lifeline. I also struggle with substance misuse, although, (thanks to help), I am clean and sober. It is nice to have a space that is non-judgmental where we can check in and connect.
I love art anyway, and find it very relaxing and engaging. But it’s so much more therapeutic to do it with others. Many thanks.”

Anna (Shared with permission).

Mindful Art Club on PTown Radio

In this relaxed and fun radio interview Chi asks Emma,

What is Mindful Art Club?

Where in Plymouth does it happen?

And who exactly is it for?

Emma Sprawson talks to Chi Bennett on Show and Tell With Queen Chi, PTown Radio, (15/01/21) about Mindful Art Club(R), a unique support group, that tackles social isolation and mental health in Plymouth, Devon.

Skip to 11 minutes in to hear Emma read a poem that explains how to stop, breathe and walk slowly into the mystery.

Skip to 12:35 where Chi asks, what if I’ve got kids at home? Can I still join in with the online group?

How to Make Zentangles

Zentangle artwork by Cara H.

Zentangles® are a kind of meditative drawing; creating abstract, repetitive patterns, without worrying what the patterns look like. This process slows down the breathing, calms the mind, and helps you to focus on the present moment. It’s a therapeutic way of drawing that offers peace of mind, and is accessible to all.

The method was created in 2003 by an American couple called Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. You can find out more about them at www.zentangle.com The Zentangle teaching materials and tools are covered by copyright and “Zentangle” is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc.

  • You will need a piece of plain A4 paper and a black pen.
  • Draw six boxes to put your Zentangles into.
  • Inside the first box, draw a line to make a “string.” The string separates your square into sections, in which you draw your tangles. A string can be any shape.
  • Take your pen for a walk, and draw random patterns inside the shapes. Try shading different areas.
  • On an A4 page you might have six different boxes full of Zentangles.

There are eight steps in the original Zentangle method, which you can read about on their website.

What is a Zentangle and why would you draw one? Watch Emma explain here:

Watch Peggy draw Zentangles here:

https://www.facebook.com/MindfulArtClub/videos/660535961437055/

Join in with the Facebook Live session here:

https://www.facebook.com/MindfulArtClub/videos/196899558173904/

Skip to 25 minutes in to watch the part about Zentangles.

Alternatively, instead of drawing in squares, you could incorporate zentangle style patterns into your own drawing, as with the example above created by Cara H, a client at one of our weekly groups.

Now we’d love to hear from you. Have you tried drawing zentangles? How does it make you feel? Leave us a comment below.