Other Ways Of Telling Cut A Track

The ‘Other Ways Of Telling’ workshops at Addaction is mid project and progressing brilliantly. On Friday the group, along with facilitator, Aiden Jolly, started laying down a track that the recovery group had written.








The level of creativity and musicianship from this particular group is great with clients playing and singing solely on the track.







Carole of course is laying down the vocals with Frank on Bass, Jimmy on guitar and Neil putting down a rhythm that the band ‘Santana’ would have been proud of.








The track for me has a ‘Allman Brothers’ feel to it and when I left the group they were writing the powerful lyrics to it. I for one just cant wait to hear the final performance.


Creative Jugs, Fridge Magnets and Arty Keyrings ……. beats isolation

The psd/helena referral group have 2 new members, Estelle and Heather.  Both ladies came along to a Dream talk delivered by Gary the cultural Coordinator and asked could they get more involved in cultural activities. Both ladies suffer with OCD, low level MH and social isolation. The ladies have recently started to live independently and have been having confidence issues going out and using public transport.







Gary has been personally taking the ladies to the group but last week was unavailable due to being in Birmingham. Both ladies have been enjoying the classes so much and have made friends with other ladies from Helena and the PSD referral group decided that they were going to go themselves on public transport !!!








Both ladies arranged to meet up at the bus stop together and have one of the Helena group meet them at the other end when they got off the bus. It was a great achievement by all to do this and not only is the art flourishing but also the social aspects and the confidence it brings.









Rick Rocks The Mansion House

The bi monthly ‘reminiscence Karaoke’ took place at Age UK in the Mansion House St Helens in July. 5 local acts gave their own time up to come and entertain a 55 strong crowd of Dementia sufferers and their carers.







One of the acts, Rick Ashcroft, (pictured) is a former finalist on ‘britain’s got talent’ and we are so lucky to have him perform in his lunch hour !!! Rick enthraled the crowd with the Walker Brothers ‘The Sun Aint Gonna Shine Anymore’, Van Morrisons ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and The Drifters, ‘Up On The Roof’. Once again a great and rewarding afternoon giving 3 minutes of memories to everyone.

Dream Intergenerational Project Concludes

The Dream Intergenerational Project with students from St Peters School Newton Le Willows reached its conclusion in May. Gary, the Cultural Coordinator took both groups, plus photographer and facilitator, Alan Smith, on a final tour of the Dream site with all the students dressed as how they see their hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future.

IMG_2537.JPG dream st petersAs usual for this age group there were plenty of footballers !!!! but in- dispersed with scientists, archeologists, vets and teachers. Along the tour both Sid and Marion from the older people group working on the project gave talks about their childhood and how their individual hopes, dreams and aspirations have changed with the advent of age. The students were bowled over with the older group and as Matthew (9) told me, ‘when Marion told us that her mother TOLD her where she would be working and what she would be doing when she left school frightened me. Especially when she said that she also had to give her all her wages and from that she would get back pocket-money!, that aint gonna happen to me’.

IMG_sid st petersAfter the tour and photo shoot both students, Marion and Sid returned to the school where the students did a school assembly on both Dream, the mine, and what they had learned from the experience of working with older people. During the assembly Sid and Marion were presented with a plaque and a bouquet of flowers. Sid told me, ‘at 86 Gary I never thought I’d be doing anything like this. never mind the kids, I felt like a kid myself doing this !!!. Ive spent the last 3 weeks doing homework on what I can bring into the workshops to show the students about life in the 30’s and 40’s when I was their age.’ There was a long pause from Sid who then said, ‘Are we doing this again next year?’

IMG_st peters dream finally

‘Stand Up To Stigma’ has them reeling …….. in Libraries !!

Stand Up To Stigma is a new and exciting community project that aims to challenge and address some of the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with poor mental health.


The project is being delivered by The Comedy Trust in partnership with three primary organisations in the St.Helens area: Addaction, St.Helens Mind and St.Helens Council. We are aiming also to recruit willing volunteers who have lived experience of mental health problems to help us develop and deliver the Stand Up To Stigma project by becoming part of a project steering group.

IMG_2496On Tuesday, the first of 4 initial performances took place at Parr library, St Helens with performances at 1 and 2 pm.  Sam Avery, a professional stand up comedian, compered the shows with his easy-going smooth style, getting everyone in a good mood and setting a great baseline for the forthcoming acts.

IMG_2503Set in the adult portion of the library and with a good audience of 15,  David, a member of staff, opened with tales from his holidays with his mates ‘The Nogger Dogs’.

Some really hilarious stories soon had the audience in raptures followed by Paul, telling anicdotes of his experience in libraries, ‘Have you any books on camoflage?’ he asks the librarian, ‘thousands’ she says, ‘but we cant find them’ !!!!.  Finally, OCD sufferer Craig spoke with great humour about his condition with brilliant poise and comedic timing.

A great afternoon, repeated 2 days later in Haydock, with tremendous feedback from the audience.

IMG_2532One member told me : ‘its great isnt it that these people daily battle against various mental issues yet they have the bottle to stand up infront of us all … in a library .. and perform that funny material, its so refreshing’.

IMG_2537Craig, participant, stand up performer and OCD sufferer,  wrote and told me :  ‘ Gary, I have gained some confidence, as it was something  I never thought I could do. It has been an interesting and light-hearted project. Fun with serious elements to it but hopefully sent a message out as it was the main goal in the end. ‘


Dream Gives Hope

The Hope Centre works either with other organisations or directly with individuals. Hope House, 103 Church St, is the drop in Centre where clients can access support, information and advice relating to housing and homelessness. People can also access advice and advocacy service which provides benefits support and advice and can help and support them to secure accommodation, access a range of health services or be signposted to drug and alcohol treatment. recently Gary, the cultural coordinator was asked to take a group of ladies suffering with Bi-Polar, Social Isolation and Mental health problems to see and learn about St Helens most famous structure.  The hour long tour and talk spoke about the former mine, the community, the closure and finally the ‘Big Art Project, and the commisioning of Dream.


The group, experiencing the site for the first time, found the tour enlightening and uplifting. John, the only male on the tour, who refused to be photographed, said : ‘Gary, I still dont like it, and I doubt I ever will, but this trip has encouraged me to come back and experience it again. Plus you’ve mentioned this Superlambbannana thing, I need to go and see that now’.

Alan Brings Yesteryear Into The Present At St Peters School

lead facilitator Alan Smith, as part of the Dream Intergenerational project, brought a set of photographs in to show the children of people and businesses that existed when Alan’s mother and father were their age. 


The photographs, in atmospheric black and white, included people like Eddie Barton, from Bartons Pickles and the childrens favourite Duggie Greenhall, a former St Helens Rugby player whose uncompromising style of play and flamboyant lifestyle endeared the children to his story.


The children were told that these very successful people not only had dreams, hopes and aspirations but they worked exceptionally hard to achieve their individual goal. To emphasise this the group was shown Colin Greenhalgh who gets up at 3.30am, 6 days a week to work in his bakery.


Jack, one of the students told me, ‘I now know why my mum is always telling me to study hard. I dont want to get up at three o’clock to go to work’!