The PSD referral group completed their Advent calendars just in time to take home for the festive period.
Working with felts and shapes the ladies created their own individual artistic calendars. Working with Polish artist Paula, the group have not only created but bonded into good friends. The PSD ladies now stop all day with the Helena Sheltered people having lunch and then knitting in the afternoon.
Marion (55) from the PSD group told me ‘Gary, thank you so so much. Before this group I was sat in the house looking at 4 walls waiting for my family coming home. Now I’m being creative and learning new skills, meeting wonderful people, and having a purpose. My well-being hasn’t half improved’
The fantastic Other Ways Of Being project, Funded by Arts Council England, played out to a pact house in the Central Library in St Helens.
The performance explored the world of addiction, its pressures, its values and the horrific lifestyle that consumes the individual and their family.
The performance, scripted and performed solely by the participants, had the audience totally captivated as the opening sequence saw Carole in her own bedroom, left to battle her own thoughts and demons. The music of Pink Floyd ‘shine on you crazy diamond’ played in the background as Carole reminisced about her past, before alcohol, where she painted, created, and had a happy marriage.
Then came the film sequence where a person who is trying to oust addiction is approached by others hell bent on getting her to have a drink and ‘join the party’. Which she does.
Finally, the group played out the final sequence of home and family life where conflicting messages lead to breakdown then recovery.
A fantastic project and performance from start to finish. Here is some of the audience feedback:
‘A powerful performance, more please more’
‘I was moved to tears on a few occasions, its obvious how much effort went into this’
‘Helps explain how important schemes like this is’
‘Dramatic and realistic’
‘Hard hitting and realistic. makes you think how hard it is just to stop drinking’
‘Edgy, catchy and fun’
A mixed group from Cultural Connections went to see the play ‘Mental’ set in a bedroom of a flat (Different) in Cooper House, Manchester. The performance centres around James. The Metropolitan Police call him a Domestic Extremist. The NHS have described him as ‘highly disturbed’ and labelled him with Borderline Personality Disorder. ’A real and present threat to the safe running of our lawful business’ is how E.ON described him at the Royal Courts of Justice. James prefers the term Mental. After 10 years of being an outlaw and inpatient, artist activist ‘the vacuum cleaner’ presents an autobiographical performance told through his psychiatric records, police intelligence files and corporate injunctions collected through the Data Protection Act.
Stuart, one of the group, has suffered with mental health problems, he told us ‘I thought the concept of staging a drama in the bedroom of a flat to a specially invited audience was brilliant. I felt honoured to be there listening to a monologue on the theme of mental un-wellness demonstrating we do not suffer alone. I found I could relate to much of the person’s experience, but thankfully I was never suicidal, but can imagine being tipped over the edge as our protégé. The mental health services have come a long way in the last 45 years, and his questioning of authority is something I could well have taken on board in the early part of my own illness. But I found the drama 10 minutes too long in that he alienated my sympathy towards the end by his relentless attack on those in authority. I’m just so pleased to have been there able to listen with a group of like-minded people no longer on the edge of my seat for a full hour fearful others could hear my thoughts as when I was an undergraduate. Arts projects such as this have been of considerable therapeutic value.‘