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“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community”

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This Mental Health Awareness Week our peer facilitators talk about the restorative benefits of being part of our Connect and Do programme.

Moving our bodies is important for our mental health. However, movement isn’t just about exercise, sometimes it’s as simple as getting out into our communities or to meet friends and family.

For many years, we had this quote on the wall of one of our Connect and Do community spaces which we think sums up the essence of Connect and Do:

“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community” – S. Kelly Harrell

Our peer facilitators reflect on what this looks like for them and how being part of Connect and Do supports their mental health and wellbeing.

JS | Peer Facilitator

“Even if I wake up feeling depressed and exhausted, Connect and Do gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. The sessions are varied, so there’s always something to do and it’s great to be able to work and chat with lots of different people. If I go in, I know that I will enjoy the session and feel better afterwards. I think the process of making art can be uplifting and restorative, and I love being able to facilitate people to engage with that process themselves.

It’s also great working with the other peer facilitators. Not being in traditional paid work can be isolating but Connect and Do brings me out of myself and I feel like the other facilitators understand my life situation better than most people so it’s nice not to have to explain myself. I particularly enjoy our Friday sessions. We have space to talk about life and our mental health but having the art element creates an important and positive counterbalance.

Connect and Do brings purpose and meaning to my life. It gets me motivated and creative, and it pushes me to work in new mediums so it’s really good for my art practice as a whole. The week that Jake brought in a felting kit was transformative! Not having Connect and Do would leave a big hole, not just in my week but my life in general.”

J | Peer Facilitator

“Connect and Do benefits our mental health by providing a safe community environment to be creative. Encouraging people to express themselves through art in a way that is collaborative and empowering. It has given me a space to develop as an artist and helped me to gain confidence in working with others. I cannot stress enough the importance of the program. It provides social, emotional and mental wellbeing in a unique way, enriching the lives of people in our community.”

R | Peer Facilitator

“I have been struggling to leave my safe space (home) lately, which has made it more difficult to control my mental health. I feel isolated, am struggling with my sleep and life in general. To be around people that understand how you feel, where you can express yourself without being judged - this is my safe space. If I didn’t have Certitude in my life, I don’t know what kind of life I would have right now. It is the only thing that is helping me get out of this dark place – it’s giving me a purpose.”

M | Peer Facilitator

“Connect and Do gives me a purpose in life, something I can rely on. A routine to do on the days I’m attending. It challenges me, to see and talk to people, to try new things that you never really knew you could do. It is a relaxed environment and would be difficult to find anything else like this that is related to arts and crafts. I need this place, otherwise, I would spend too much time on my own. This is the reason I wake up every morning - without it my health would get worse.”

T | Peer Facilitator

“I was introduced to Connect and Do when I returned to London after living in Kent for 10 years. Jobless, frustrated and lonely, I needed direction, support and an environment to be free to express my talents. I met Jake who welcomed me, listened to me and offered me a chance to do the things I love doing. As a facilitator, I enjoy every moment with Connect and Do. Creating with other facilitators, learning from each other, the laughter, flexibility and sometimes even the disagreements have helped my mental health and pride in the outcome of things I make. It’s a blessing to be part of.”

X | Peer Facilitator

“I cherish my experiences at Connect and Do. For me, it’s a vibrant space bursting with creative energy and talent. Everyone contributes to the inspiring atmosphere. It’s a judgement free zone where people can express themselves freely, far from the typical stigmas associated with mental health or disability. Here, I find a sense of camaraderie with others as well as a sense of belonging and understanding, which have proven to be both affirming and healing. Over the last six years, I’ve explored other opportunities, but I have always found my way back to Connect and Do. It grounds me, providing a stable routine environment that has become essential to my wellbeing. Without it, I would lose a crucial therapeutic outlet and a safe space to express myself.”

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