A PR officer from Comic Relief and Groundwork recently got in touch to ask us about the impact their funding had on our group at The Sunflower Women’s Centre.
What issue does the project aim to change/address?
We tackle social isolation and common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
How does the project addresses this issue?
We offer mindful art groups in community venues, often at no cost to the individual client.
Each group lasts for an hour and a half. We start with a “check-in” where everyone gets a chance to say how they are feeling, but there is no obligation to talk if you don’t want to. Then we do five minutes of guided mindfulness. Then we do five minutes of mindful drawing, (which is drawing with our eyes closed!) Then we do a simple art project that anyone can do, and have a chat. At most groups there is an opportunity to get a tea or coffee. Art projects might include making a greeting card, drawing a mandala, mindful doodling (zentangles), or making a collage. Artistic talent is not necessary – it’s about having fun.
What activities or events do you carry out as part of the project?
At the moment we have five weekly groups, three are funded, two we run on a volunteer basis while we seek funding. We also host one day mindful art retreats, and sometimes run an eight week wellbeing course. Sometimes we offer online wellbeing sessions using Zoom.
The Comic Relief Community fund allowed us to deliver 12 weekly mindful art groups at The Sunflower Women’s Centre. The issues being tackled were social isolation and poor mental health. We addressed these problems by using creative activities to make it easier for clients to engage in meaningful conversations.
What impact has the project had on the community? Please provide specific examples or testimonials where possible.
We regularly receive great verbal feedback and written feedback that shows we are reducing social isolation and helping to improve mental health. (Lots of quotes here.)
“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
“Thank you Peggy and Emma for running the mindfulness art group, it has helped me so much and I’ve enjoyed each session. I struggle with anxiety and depression and I’ll miss our groups at Sunflower as it’s helped a lot and has been a great group to be in. Sending much love and hugs to you both. You’re both lovely ladies”. – Vikki
What difference has Comic Relief funding made to the project?
This funding allowed us to run 12 weeks of in-person support groups at the Sunflower Women’s Centre, when lockdown restrictions began to ease in April 2021.
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.
What is next for your organisation?
We are currently applying for funding to fund further sessions at The Sunflower Women’s Centre and a follow-on group at Royal William Yard. We have just started a 12 week project offering mindful art groups at a local homelessness charity. We are also running a six week ‘Doodle Your Recovery’ course for Devon Recovery Learning Community.
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