The sell out Stand up to Stigma project rounds up on Friday 16th January from 5pm – 7pm at St Helens Central Library with professional stand-up comic, Sam Avery and local comedy newcomers. This event is the finale to a six week comedy course involving people with lived experience of mental health issues. Further details on the Stand up to Stigma project can be found here.
Children from Nutgrove Methodist school were recently treated to a tour of the Dream monument located on the site of the former colliery in Sutton Manor.
The class were very impressed with the trip and made the following comments:
- I enjoyed the walk up to the Dream. I enjoyed it with you Gary. I think it was the best trip ever, Thank You.
- I loved the School trip, I loved the Dream, thank you for taking us to the dream.
- I liked the Dream the best because it was jinamas and it was really interesting. Thank you for taking us there.
- I liked it when you said when we get round the corner there will be… the Dream. I was so excited and happy and amazed.
- I can’t believe that you know so much. I want to go again. Did you enjoy it Gary?
- Thank you Gary for telling us about the Dream Gary, now I know everything about the Dream!
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.
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.
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.
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.
As 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’.
After 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?’
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.
On 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.
Set 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.
One 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’.
Craig, 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. ‘