Online art inspires hope
A wellbeing service in North Somerset is sharing stories of how art has kept clients well during Covid-19 through a virtual art exhibition on Instagram. The exhibition of creative writing, photography and art from clients of the North Somerset Wellbeing Service will run for the next ten weeks.
The service, run by leading mental health charity Second Step, has around 190 clients in North Somerset who are used to receiving support through weekly face-to-face small group sessions. Since lockdown, the service has moved online offering clients virtual wellbeing sessions, a Facebook page and YouTube channel. The wellbeing team has made an impressive 648 phone calls of one-to-one support during the last four months to clients who requested additional help.
The virtual ‘What Makes Me Well’ exhibition launches today and aims to demonstrate the healing power of art and creativity during a time of crisis.
Vicky, who has psychosis and was left with traumatic memories after a long stay in hospital, starts the exhibition with two beautiful pieces of inspirational writing. “I have only just started to write creatively thanks to the Zoom creative writing group with the North Somerset team,” Vicky says. “It is a lovely safe space to be creative and it helps me process how I am feeling at times.”
Alpha Poem- Mindful Bird Song
‘A bird sings alone but loud, listening for a partner to make a sound
Beautiful songs that fill the air, listen closely and be aware
Calm and Soothing, clear your mind, it’s the perfect way to relax and unwind.
Don’t worry, use the sound, you can be present in the now
Enjoy the peace you have found
Fill your mind with joy not fear, all you need to do is hear
Grasp the good thoughts and let the bad ones flow away
Hard it may be but if you just try, that feeling will stay.’
North Somerset team manager Claire Denyer said: “We’re so excited to share with everyone the fruits of our clients’ art and creativity sessions. Art and creativity is an important element of good wellbeing and allows people to express their feelings in their own way. It is an integral part of their individual recovery.”
Chris Kinston, Senior Operations Manager for says: “I am really proud that Second Step has been able to give such great support for people in distress in North Somerset. The exhibition demonstrates just how restorative creativity can be and this is at the heart of all our wellbeing sessions. Keeping people well in their community is our priority, especially during these uncertain times.”
With lockdown restrictions lessening, North Somerset Wellbeing Services will continue providing online services for clients with a focus on group wellbeing sessions.
Follow the ‘What Makes Me Well’ campaign on Instagram @wearesecondstep.
Vicky’s other piece of creative writing is below:
If I were a place
If I were a place I would be a small quiet village. It would have community spirit, kindness and support amongst the villagers. The buildings would be a mix of old and modern. It would be a place with many stories, both happy and sad and a past you can learn much about. You can see the foundations of where the village started and how it developed and grew into what it is today, influenced by the past present and what the future will bring.
As you walk through the village it is calm and relaxed, there is very little traffic and plenty of nature and beautiful views to behold. You can hear the joy of children playing, residents calling out hello as they walk to the bakery or the post office in the centre of the village. There is so much to learn about this place if you take time to explore and research what lies beneath the surface. The weather is mostly calm and sunny but at times storms can overwhelm the village. When the weather changes the villagers batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst. They know that the storms can be bad at times and dangerous but they have experience to know what to do to survive. They know the warning signs to be aware of and how to prepare and they know the steps to take to protect themselves and their houses.
And of course the villagers know that this will pass, the storm and the rain clouds will clear and the sun will appear once again.
At first, when the storm is over, the sun can be weak and struggle to shine through but it works hard to give the village the warmth and calm that it needs. The villagers have the experience to know that most of the storms that come are short and mild and there will be no lasting damage. But in the past storms have taken a severe toll on the village and its inhabitants and it took time and hard work to repair the damage.
But what they need to hold onto to get them through are the memories of their previous recoveries and how they resumed normal life. When the storms are severe the villagers take tentative, small steps outside and assess what work needs to be done, repairs are needed, crops to be replanted and injuries to be healed. But they will get this in motion and work hard to get their village back on track. Once the village returns to its happy, calm and peaceful state they are very proud of what they have achieved. Although the storm can cause destruction every time it hits, they know what to do and they learn from each storm that crosses their path.
The village is beautiful and worth the fight and struggle that they have to endure. Of course the villagers could relocate but it’s worth fighting through the difficult times to enjoy the incredible place that they have as their home.