What I’ve been up to in during Covid -19

Hey everyone, how are you all in this weird and scary time? I hope you’re all doing great, and coping the best you can in these circumstances we are in at the moment. I’m just going to talk to you about what I’ve been up to since Covid -19 has came up.

When I first heard about this virus, I wasn’t taking it very seriously, I didn’t think it would’ve spread world wide like it has. I didn’t think it would make people panic, buy stuff they didn’t need. I  didn’t think it would bring lockdowns either. There are so many divided opinions among the populus, causing upset and anger, when we should all be fighting this together, as one.

I’m so glad we have this opportunity to still meet every Tuesday even though it’s online. Today we did arts and craft, Ian Brownlie the artist gave some ideas to us and also sang a couple of songs, including the Funky Almanac song which some people participated in. It was really good just laughing and and enjoying ourselves and we saw a 1 minute film of of our project today which Julian Claxton has done wonders with. He is now working on a 3-4 minute film for a month’s time, then a longer one for the end of the project.

Here’s the link for the 1 minute film please

So this Covid -19 has put the Burgh Castle Almanac project I’m involved with on hold because we’re not allowed to gather in groups at the minute. As a group we have decided to still stay in contact online by video chat, and it’s so good to see everyone and hear from them about what they have been up to. The good news is that the project is still going to happen, past its official end date, so when things go back to normal we will carry on with the project. Happy days. 

What also has happened is they have sent us some arts and craft stuff to do through the post which is awesome. But what the hell do I do with it. The first oast parcel was some foil that we could make something with to go in our exhibition once thing go back to normal. I received a second parcel yesterday, we wasn’t allowed to open them till today and we received some fablon and acetate. Take a look at the pictures below.

It’s important for me to take part in this group cause I get so much from the group and I hope I give something back to the group. I for one know that once the project finishes I’m going to do everything I can to kept it running some way or another.

Thanks for reading and I wish you all good mental health in these times.

.

.

.

.

Open your eyes to nature

Hey everyone hope you’re well and in good mental health, I’m going to be talking to you today about Burgh Castle again and what we got up to last week. We attended the Norffolk Makers Market at the Forum in Norwich and then on Valentine’s Day we attended Buckenham Fen with a bird expert, Mark Cocker, where we went to see the roost of birds.
It was one of the arty people that came up with the idea of going to Makers Market at the Forum, where we showed them how we could make roundels like we did for our sculpture model we did at Waveney Valley Sculpture Trail.

These are the willow roundels read below to find out what we do with them.


We would get some willow that at been soaked in water so it was easy to work with, two pieces to make it stronger, so then we had a frame to work to. We would then get this strong tissue paper that had been cut into a circle of 8cm diameter. We would glue peices of tissue paper to the willow and cover the paper in glue. We would then get bits of nature that we collected from Burgh Castle and also cut up magazines to put on the tissue paper in any arrangement that we liked. We would then get a smaller circle peice of paper, and put that on top like a sandwich. Once that was done we would glue that top piece of paper as well, and then we would hang them up to dry for a couple of hours. But with the amount of people that was walking through the Forum they where drying quite quickly. We had 604 people coming to our stall.
The best thing for me was that when we opened the stall we had a couple of young men from City College come and take part in this activity They wanted to learn so much from what we wer doing and they were asking questions about the project we were involved in and what else we got out of it. And there was the retired teacher who came along and loved what we were about. We also got BBC Radio Norfolk Voices team come down and interviewed a couple of our members about what we were getting up to, which is great. Also the amount of people that wanted to leave a donation for materials cause they just wanted to say thank you for our stall.

These are the final result hanging to dry


So that now brings me on to the next thing we got up to. On Valentine’s Day we went with Mark Cocker to look at birds and the nature at Buckenham Fen in Norfolk. It is a nature reserve, well what can I say ,it didn’t disappoint. We got there around 4pm and there was a small group of golden plover, and there was already geese flying over, ducks eating the grass and we were even treated to Chinese Water Deer, a couple of them running around. Also there were some hares hopping about – I was shocked of how quickly they can move. There also was a river running along the site, if any of you like fishing you would be well in your element.


Then we were treated to 3 barn owls flying over the other side of the river which was a fantastic sight to see, and as we walked further around the site the owls that were flying over in the background started to come nearer to the river so you could get a closer look at them if you had the binoculars on which was great. When I got back I rang my grandma and told her what I had seen as she loves owls.
We started to walk to near the beginning of the site to see the main attraction of the roost, which I had ever only seen on television. The birds started to gather all around us in the sky then they seemed to group together and well what can I say, the noise and the the sght of 20,000 birds that were flying turning twisting all in synchronised movmement, it was amazing. The only downside was that I didn’t have a decent camera to catch it with. If you’re into your wildlife then go check out your local nature reserve and lose yourself in such beautiful scenery and the noises.

The sun set at Buckingham fen captured by another participant.


Thank you for reading hope you have enjoyed another round of up what we have been up to on our project.

Project ‘Crucial Crew’

Hey everyone, how are you doing? I hope you’re well and in good mental health. I want to apologise for the lack of blogs lately. It’s because I’ve been moving house, but want to discus with you about this project I’m involved in called ‘Crucial crew’ for school students aged 11- 16 at my first school. I then did 13-15 at the second school, where we have been talking about mental health and self harm, in 15 minute sessions, as it is a very hard hitting topic for children and young people.

This was my first experience ever speaking to children about this, and I was worried they would eat me alive. I didn’t get a good night sleep the night before as I was very nervous, but my first class of the morning went well. I started off asking them could they name some emotions that are linked with mental health. The room went quite for a minute or so, then one student put his hand up and said ‘sadness’ then some more hands started popping up with answers of fear, angry, lonely and so on. I said to them there is one that begins with H and someone shouted out ‘happiness’. I high-fived this student and that made them all laugh. I then explained that you can be in a happy place but still have bad mental health, but you can be in a sad place and still have good mental health and through out the room you could see they were nodding there heads.

So the the second thing, I explained a senario of me when I was at school of something that actually happened to me years ago. I was scared to put my hand up in case I got the answer wrong, and the class would laugh at me, or I would put my hand up and pull it straight back down again then think the teacher would pick on me for it. Or I’d answer the question, but give an answer about another subject. I then explained that this left me with negative thoughts in my head. I would go home and then lock my self in my room then the self harm thoughts would come because I didn’t want to ask for help as I was scared to. It wasn’t until I went to school and told someone I was struggling, I had a teacher say to me, don’t ever feel ashamed to ask for help if your struggling, because we all struggle at something in our lives. So I said to them this me giving you a gentle kick up the backside to go ask for help if you need it. They all burst out laughing, but some also said thank you. And I reminded them asking for help isn’t sign weakness.

For the end of the talk we talked about distraction techniques and if we couldn’t talk about our problems, how else we could communicate to people that we need help and they came up with suggestions like writing, drawing and singing. I thought they were good answers.

Then we had a Q&A, and my favourite question was ‘does self harm have to be physical?’. My answer was not always. That there are many ways to self harm, and that includes not looking after yourself. Over eating, starving yourself etc.

I wish mental health was talked about more like this when I was back at school. I think it could of helped me so much in so many ways. The children really surprised me on both occasions on how they deal with such mature topics of conversation, and I hope projects like this help them, and make them feel like they’re not alone. At the end of some sessions, I was getting thumbs up, fist pumps and thank yous from the students. This is what makes me think that projects like Crucial crew can really make a difference with peoples mental health.

Burgh Castle Almanac

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well and enjoying good mental health. I’ve been asked to write for the national archaeological trust, about the Burgh Castle project i am involved with.

The group is called, The Burgh Castle Almanac group. We meet up in the village hall at Burgh Castle, and walk up to the castle, where we take our fixed spot photographs around the site. This is all over the year, and you can see the changes in the site, over the different seasons. We have all been given some cameras, so we can take different photos throughout the site.

I can remember my first session. I didn’t really talk to anybody, as it was a new group, with people i had never met before, and I feel awkward and anxious in situations like this. But everyone, within the group, acknowledged me, which made me feel at ease and the facilitators made me feel welcome, and ensured no one was left out.

This project has had a positive impact on my mental health. It is a two year project, which I think has helped me a lot, because when i get used to something, it can suddenly stop, which can have a huge impact on my mental well being. Causing more anxiety and stress because it has stopped and there is nothing to soften the impact. But with this project, you have time to get to understand how things work and you know when it will finish, and things are put into place to help the transgression to not doing it anymore.

I think this is how more projects should be ran. People with mental health have good days and bad days, and with a long running project, such as the Burgh Castle project, it helps people in a much more positive way. for instance, if you can’t make a session because of any issue, your not kicked off, or moaned at, like i have experienced in the past. And your never judged for not being able to attend.

I’ve completed activities, I’ve never thought I would do. Arty stuff, a walk on the river Thames and attending the Houses of Parliament I’ve also been able to blog about my experiences and thoughts of the things i have done and seen, which in turn has helped me with my mental health journey.

I can say that this project has brought out the best in me. It has taught me that anything is possible, i am referring to the arty things i have been involved with, trust me, art and me are not best of friends, but to try and complete the little projects, was and is a huge achievement for me, especially as it has taught me to be more patient with myself, and control my anger a little bit better than before. I wont be painting for any art gallery or making any arty things in the near future, but i did it, and surprisingly i enjoyed it. I have to admit, i am rather chuffed with the wooden spoon i whittled!!!!!

Its not just the projects we get to do, that makes this such a fantastic experience. Burgh castle is a beautiful site, and the photographs we have taken, do not do it justice. I have always been interested in the history of things, and this has been a pleasure and a privilege, being a part of this group.

Would i recommend you doing this project if it was offered to you, one hundred percent yes, not only for your mental health but for the knowledge you learn from the site itself and the projects you take part in. The team that organizes this, are fantastic, i can not praise them enough.

i think i may have gushed enough about this, but i am very passionate about how this has affected my life, so please bare with me.

I will leave you all now, feeling positive and happy, and i wish you all a great mental health, where ever and who ever you are.

Thanks for listening

John .

Session 41, 19th October 2019 Roman Experience at Time and Tide Museum

Sessions 41, 42 and 43 including Roman soldiery, a moonlit walk, and mushrooming with a fun guy

Photo credits Sue Tyler, Phillip Wells, Robert Fairclough, Adrian Stott

Session 41, 19th October 2019 Roman Experience at Time and Tide Museum

It’s not everyone who can carry off the Legionary Look, but here are some who can.

We drilled, marched and tortoised. And we also met Lady Lydia to hear more about her beauty regime and plans for the exhausting day ahead, instructing slaves.

There was also an intriguing exhibition of British tattoo art.

Session 42, 12th November 2019 Full Moon at Burgh Castle Roman Fort

A beaver moon, mostly obscured by clouds and rain which magically lifted as we entered the fort. 17 brave people made our regular walk, including along the slippery broadwalk, taking some wonderful photographs despite – or actually because of – the weather.

Session 43, 15th November 2019 Mushrooming at Burgh Castle Roman Fort

We walked with Marc Ladi, who runs a great facebook group called Norfolk mushroom spotters(uk). Fun guy Marc has been mushroom hunting since he was a boy going out to find porcini with his Italian father, and he is an encouraging spotter. We even picked a mushroom he’d never found before, the wrinkled peach. 

Marc dispelled all the myths you can think of, and warned us off the deadliest mushrooms with the maxim that there are….old mushroom spotters, bold mushroom spotters, but no old, bold mushroom spotters. In the end, by close attention to the ground, and being mindful to likely places, it was quite a squeeze to get them all on the display table – not much room.

Marc said: Found a lot more species than I expected after the frosts but including, Wood Blewits (Lepista nuda), field Blewits (Lepista Saeva), wood/jelly ear (Auricularia auricula), sulphur tufts (Hypholoma fasciculare), glistening ink caps (Coprinellus micaceus) honey fungus (Armillaria mellea), Shaggy parasols (Chlorophyllum brunneum), velvet shanks (Flammulina velutipes), fairy ring champignon (Marasmius oreades) my first ever wrinkled peach! (Rhodotus palmatus) and at the time an unidentified grey capped mushroom, now possibly identified following further research as Volvariella gloiocephala (stubble rose gill). NB: not all are edibles, and even some of the edibles were found in a cemetery so unwise to consume!  

PEOPLE IN CRISIS

PEOPLE IN CRISIS
I’m saddened to hear another young man has taken their life, as their journey had gotten too much for them. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this sad time
I can sympathize with this young man, as many a time, when i was younger, i too had these terrible thoughts. Thankfully, i never succeeded with any of the attempts.
 
I know as a small town, there is not much support for people who have sunken down to these depths of despair, but I think as a community we have a part to play in helping people who have these thoughts and feelings, by setting up support groups that are easy to find, and where someone can come and share their struggles and get signposted to the appropriate place.
It’s not a sign of weakness asking for help, I know it can be extremely hard, maybe embarrassing, but I beg you, if you are struggling please reach out to a family member, friend, work colleague, or doctor . I need you to know, you are not alone, there is someone out there who will understand, and be by your side. You will not be judged by the right people, you deserve to be helped and listened to. You deserve to live your life free of worries and know you are a valued human being.
Be safe, be well, and keep on fighting even if you feel your fight is over, it never is, you are stronger than you realize and deserve the care and love that is out there.
I am putting some numbers for you to contact if you need.
talk to the SAMARITANS if your struggling 116 123.

URGENT, NON-EMERGENCY MEDICAL ADVICE

If you need help urgently but are not at risk of death or serious illness, call the NHS non-emergency advice line.
Call 111
Text “SHOUT” to 85258 or visit Shout Crisis Text Line

DIAL 999

In a life-threatening emergency, phone the emergency services and ask for an ambulance.
Call 999

CRISIS SUPPORT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

If you are under 35 and feel that life is not worth living any more, call Papyrus’s HopelineUK from 9am to 10pm weekdays and 2pm to 10pm on weekends.
Call HopelineUK on 0800 068 41 41
Text 07786 209697

A round up of Burgh Castle

A round up of Burgh Castle

Hey everyone, I hope you’re well and in good Mental Health today. I’m going to talk you about Burgh Castle project, which is what we’ve been getting up to, and the plan I would like to do with the project when finished.

So a couple of months ago now we had Anna Mudeka from Zimbabwe come to Burgh Castle and do our walk. Anna sang to us in her native language and used instruments from back home. It was so peaceful when Anna sang, you felt like you were with her in her country. My favourite part was when she sang to us in click. I thought this was totally amazing and so wonderful to hear.

We have also been doing some interview sessions as we want to make a film about our experience of what we got up to on this project. I want to say big thank you to all who attended. We picked one and I can’t wait to start working along side them to see what we come up with.

We then had a local man come in called Jason and he showed us how to do whittling and make our own spoons and knives. I was panicking about doing this as I’m no good at wood work but Jason was so calm and made you feel so at ease about it, and took time to go round one by one to help if you where stuck. I found this really interesting and on the plus side I never cut my self so thank you Jason for this.

So our next thing we got up to was we visited another heritage site called St Bennett’s Abbey. This was a fun drive as our sat nav took us the wrong way and the site wasn’t that well sign posted. When we got to the site we had to walk up to the ruin that is sat next to the river. The site is steeped in history. There was engravings on the wall from the 1900’s and it was a really nice seeing the site being used by other people and dog walkers and usually in the fields are cows.

This project from start to finish is a two year project it’s brought the best out in me. I’ve also done stuff I never thought I’d do. When this project is finished, I would love to take it in to Schools, Universities and Prisons. We as a group could all bring this to other people I would also doing talk to the government and finder on how this helps.

Thanks for reading

Just some people I’ve met…..

Just some people I’ve met…..

Hi everyone, i hope this fiinds you all in good mental health.

I thought, today, i would write about feeling safe working with an organization, that i am involved with.

About two years ago, i had started to go to a cafe called, Sams Cafe. It is a meeting place for anyone in the community who want to meet up for different groups within the community. The Cafe is run by a company called Access.

I was meeting people there for the Burgh Castle project. I can be there for about ten mins, before i feel really sick. I could see the exits, in and out of the room, as i need to see my escape routes at all times. This is a major comfort thing for me. But this was going on every fortnight. I then found would start asking myself a question about the organisatin and what they are doing.

Every member of the staff i have met, within Access, have made me feel welcome and relaxed. From saying hello to me in the cafe, to meeting them through different projects they organize. I would like to talk about some of the people who work with the projects.

Lets start with Gary. Gary takes me and the rest of the group to the Burgh Castle project, when Tod not there. Gary is a proper down to earth bloke. He talks about his job with so much passoin, its quite catching. He also talked about another project he is involved in, which i am glad to say, i am also enjoying, and that is the war graves project, where we go to graveyaards, and tidy up the old war graves that have been sadly neglected. I love readig the headstones while i am making them tidy. I really enjoy this project.

Then we have Lee. Lee, sadly, is no longer working with Access, as he has found his dream Job, But this does not denote the impact he had on people in the cafe. He was very passionate about the job, and the people he got onto other projects. Although he did stich me up once, on a lunch project I attended. He asked me to speak ….. I was not prepared at all, and had to do a talk, off the cuff, but as i was at the cafe, i felt safe, so i stood up and did a five min talk…Thanks for that Lee!!

While i was living out in the sticks, Tod Sullivan, through social media, put me in contact with the Access Social Prescribing Team. So we come to Beth. Well, what can i say about Beth. I think she is the most passionate person i have ever met, and considering the others i have spoke about, thats saying a lot. She is so positive and has helped me loads with my living with mental health journey.

I have had the honour, of sitting on interview panels for Access, for one of thier new projects they have got going. I have also took part insome training for the social prescribing team with Todd, and for some of the team of Access. I talked to them about my situation and how i feel safe within thier organisation.

I think what i am trying to get across here is, how much i appreciate the people i have mentioned above, and the fantastic company Access. They have brilliant people working with them, and they help people like me, gain trust and self respect, through all the work and projects they do.

So a big Thank You Access, you help me keep positive, feeling safe and looking forward to the furure. If you need any more help, weather it be sitting on panels or joining any project, you know where i am.

Take care everyone, stay safe and be well.

My Take on the Mental Health Conference July 2019

My Take on the Mental Health Conference July 2019

Hello everyone, hope you are all well today. i thought i would share with you, my thoughts about the mental health conference that took place in July this year.

I took part this time. standing up and speaking about my own personal experiences of mental health. The other speakers are what i want to talk about today.

The first speaker was Vincent Harrison. his talk was original and entertaining and very informative. He ‘rapped’ about his struggles with life , his mental health and his past experiences of life. i have never seen a talk done this way, but you could relate to his story. i found him quite inspirational to be honest.

I was the next speaker, which was quite daunting, considering who i had to follow. but i stood up and just let it flow. my talk was done in an interview style by my friend Ivan, whiched helped me feel more relaxed. Ivan asked me about my struggles dealing with my mental health. He also gave me the opportunity yo explain about things that i use to help me get through tough times. we also talked about my time at Recovery College, and what an impact it has had on my own recovery. all in all i think it went well.

The next speaker after me was a gentlemen was called Tod Sullivan. this man has been helping me a lot over the last couple of years, and i cant thank him enough. He spoke about his experiences he had, whilst on his fellowship in America. the things he has learned, has made him want to use the same ideas, and hopefully implement them, here in the UK.

The fourth speaker was a lovely lady, and i would like to say a good friend now, Sue Willgoss. She spoke about the loss of her son last year, to suicide. She spoke about how she lobby’s to get mental health services improved. She has gained a vast amount of knowledge about the mental health services here in our own town. She also has formed a charity, Lift Loud For Danny, in memory of her son, and in the hopes of improving things for people with mental health issues, She is an avid campaigner, and speaks up for those who struggle with mental health. She also runs quite a few drop ins where people can come in for a chat and find out information that she has accumulated. Sue is also planning to get a crisis centre opened up in our town. I support her as much as i can and am in awe of her fighting spirit.

Now, the next speaker was a young lady named Yasmin. She spoke about her last father and how her culture affected her, by telling her how to dress and how to at. she also touched on CPTSD, and how the diagnosis is not diagnosed correctly soon enough. I found this very interesting, ans a westerner looking into another culture and background, its something a lot of us don’t even think about.

Our sixth speaker was a lady called Catherine. She spoke about ways of coping with her mental health. She described a ‘village’ that she draws, which includes people in her life and important things to here. this gives her a sense of security and peace. She also told us that creating artwork helps her a great deal, and even showed us some of her work. I for one know that doing anything creative can help quite the mind and help you relax, so i would recommend this pastime to anyone.

Our final speaker was Dan Biddel. I remember the first time i heard him speak, and even now, i marvel at his inner spirit and fight. For those of you that don’t know this inspirational man, Dan was a victim of the 7/7 bombings in London. ue to this he lost both legs and one of his eyes, his injuries were so extensive that i could not possible list them all, and he is a marvel for surviving so much injuries. But to listen to him, i just don’t know if i, for one, would have come through it even half a good as him. I find him funny, and enthralling to listen to. He narrates that day in such a way, you are rooted to your seat, because even though you know how it ends, you want to hear his version. I love hearing his love story, about how he met his wife after the event. I don’t think anyone leaves untouched by his story. I have a great admiration for this man. He too is trying to raise awareness of services that can help people with mental health.

Reflecting on this day, i’ve found it to e empowering for myself. telling my own story, and listening to others was, well, Awesome!!

I encourage you all, to look for the help you need or want. It might take a while, but i say, never give up, because your worth it.

I would also like to highly recommend you to go to any of the events put on around you. You can find inspiration, and even find a different perspective on things.

I look forward to hearing from you and wish you all a good mental health.

Thanks for reading

John.

The team of speakers

Another Burgh Castle adventure😀

Another Burgh Castle adventure

It’s been a while since I’ve wrote a blog, due to personal reasons, but I’m back up and running. I want to let you know about my visit to Burgh Castle yesterday. I was not looking forward to the activities we were going to do, arts and crafts, and also building a module for a sculpture we are doing. Now anyone who knows me, knows I’m not artistic at all, and because of this I get frustrated with myself, if I see myself as failing. But I’m very happy to report, that I actually enjoyed it a lot.

We are making a sculpture from willow branches. It will be a dome shape, to be used on the sculpture trail in Raveningham. We had to bend the branches into to shape, and make some circles, some small and some medium and some large. I was getting frustrated with joining them with the wire, then I realised, by watching others, that I wasn’t doing it the correct way. I should have used the string. But once I saw how it was being done, I found it a lot easier the way I saw others doing it.

After a while, we then had a couple of people come and talk from the Assent Project. They do research on how people with communication difficulties, are not asked to help with research. And to help come up with communication tools and skills, so they then can join with any studies and research. As I struggle with communication needs, I found it a great thing to be involved with, and have now signed up to take part in the research.

The other part of the arts and craft session, I drew a circle on some paper, and placed some plants on it. I then PVA glued the plants on, twice, then put another piece of paper on top and pressed it out so the glue spread. One more coat of PVA glue, then I hung it up to dry. I sent my partner a photo of what I had done, and she said the title of the artwork should be ‘The world as nature intended ‘. I also made an origami butterfly, which I must send my thanks to another participant on the course, who helped me, after I cussed it for a while, through their encouragement to make it.

Thanks for reading. I’m starting to realise, we can do anything we want, even it it looks like we fail, we don’t. Failing is not trying at all, don’t you think!