In light of Mental Health Awareness Week (15th May – 21st May), we interviewed Katie – one of our amazing staff members, to explain how her role is positively impacting the mental health of our clients.
This year’s theme is on Anxiety, which is one of the most common mental health problems we can face. In a recent survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, found that 1 in 4 adults say that anxiety stops them from doing things they want to do or enjoy doing some/all of the time – this is a huge problem. Mental ill-health is sadly a common theme we see in the people we support.
Luckily, anxiety can be managed much easier when we have the right support available to us. This is why it’s so important that Julian House can provide ways to improve the mental wellbeing of our clients to ensure their progression towards a happier and healthier future.
Katie’s Role at Julian House
My role is Activities Co-ordinator Client Involvement, and my main aim is to provide opportunities for people in our services to take part meaningful activities. Helping them to gain confidence, learn new skills, fill a few hours, and help improve their mental health. It is also about providing opportunities for them to take part in activities which might be outside of their comfort zone.
The activities will enable them to gain independence. I used to work as a support worker at the hostel and I could see then just how good it would be for them. I work across our supported housing projects in Bath and the emergency hostel but like to get everyone outside as much as possible.
I started by talking to the people we are supporting, to find out what sort of activities they would like to do, cooking and art where extremely popular.
” I like the coffee mornings, it’s nice to go out and do something normal and chat as a group.” – A quote from an individual we support.
The art sessions take place on a Thursday at the hostel and have been very popular. It has been so inspiring to see such a lot of talent. We have art supplies for drawing and painting, but also bracelet making and other crafts. Some of the clients are cautious at first, but when they see us sat together in a really calming situation, chatting, taking part, they like to get involved. It is very inclusive for anyone, whatever level they are.
We are planning a public display and sale of the art, which will help boost their confidence, talking to members of the public about their art. We are just waiting for a date from Green Park station to be confirmed.
“I really look forward to arts and crafts every week. It’s fun and I love being creative.” – A quote from an individual we support.
The Walking Photography group has also been very popular. We have been out a few times and as the summer progresses, we are getting more interest. I am going to start different walking groups for different levels, some love walking up to Sham Castle to take photos, others prefer to be in the city. We are so luck here as we have so much choice.
One of our clients has been challenged by addiction and poor mental health, but by being encouraged to walk, daily in her case, she says that it was the best thing for her and she continues to do so, even on the days that she really did not want to. Sometimes I have to do a bit of pestering, but when they take part, go outside, they really enjoy it and feel so much better for it.
“It was good to get out and go for a walk, to get out of the hostel for a bit and see the city, even if Kate did make me walk all the way up to Sham Castle.”– A quote from an individual we support.
Some activities are more relaxed and are about helping people to male first steps and to introduce them to others. I started coffee mornings at some of the projects and then started to take them to a local coffee shop, something that many of the would have been too intimidated to have gone by themselves, but they have gained so much confidence from going out of their comfort zone. Sometimes, it can just be very soft touches that make a difference.
We are talking to Weston College about them providing a cooking course. It will be a 6–12-week course and each week will focus on a different subject, things like cooking on a budget, healthy cooking, budgeting, their rights as a tenant. The college will help facilitate anyone doing in the course in helping them to get into catering, provide references etc. We are hoping to collaborate with a local company who have some catering facilities.
Food is always a great way to bring people together. Our brunch clubs in our supported housing projects have been very popular. I bring the ingredients and recipe, but they cook together and we all eat together. It really helps to bring the house together, especially for people who have just moved into a project, it is a really great introduction.
Since then, a lot of them have been cooking meals together and are saving money by joining their resources and again, they are eating together. One of the clients has now taken on the role of being the advisor to the others about what/how to cook.
“I enjoy learning new things like how to cook new dishes in the cooking sessions” – A quote from an individual we support.
Sport is also popular and we will be working with Bathy City Football Club with weekly football training sessions at Bath Rec. They will be for any level, some might like a more serious approach, others might like to take part in penalty shoot outs against their key worker.
We are working with other local groups who are kindly providing opportunities for our clients. Cleveland Pools our funding some free places and the YMCA gym are proving free gym inductions where we take a small group once a month and then our clients can get gym passes from us.
We have also been bowling and some clients have taken up swimming.
Not all our activities are physical, in fact the latest one is quite the opposite. We were lucky enough to welcome Phoenix from Soul Spa to the hostel who provided some very calming, guided meditation. All our clients needed to do was to lie down and relax. Sound Healing involves using crystal bowls and sticks and the sound promotes calming influence and promotes good sleep.
We have been running the activities sessions for 6 months now. Engagement is definitely improving, and it is great to be able to break down any barriers and help people to get over any anxieties, seeing their confidence grow and mental improve has been amazing.
If you have a skill / hobby that you could share or are part of an activity / support group that we could work with, please get in touch. Likewise, if anyone has any Space that we can use for activities please contact Katie: Katie.email@example.com