I’ve been a member of Designs in Mind since March 2022. It’s been a major factor in keeping my Mental Health challenges at bay, and keeping my creative and emotional needs fulfilled and is a place where I feel valued and listened to, especially when I’ve needed a listening ear.
In January 2023 I took the part-time role of Social Media Coordinator writing their weekly blogs.
I thought it would be fitting to describe a typical studio week, so those thinking of signing up to be a member would have an idea of how fabulous it is to be part of Designs in Mind.
It’s Monday morning and the weekend has felt long, lack of connection with other folk has made it so. But I fear not, as today I’m able to go along and attend the Reading Group, with the choice of staying longer and being involved with the Singing group.
Perhaps I’ll read some of the books I bring or I’ll choose to read one of my pieces of poetry. If I’m not feeling to read at all, I’ll just go along to listen to the vast array of books other members will be reading aloud.
Reading aloud to others might sound a tad scary at first, but the group are attentive listeners and before you know it, you feel comfortable and confident in sharing. No books are off limits, a real eclectic mix of genres ensues.
On the Monday morning there is also Gardening Group available, attending to plants in our outside alley area, that is a wonderful place to sit and reflect alone or chat with other members. I’ll be sharing a Gardening group blog in Spring next year, so that’s yet to come.
In house we also have two “quiet rooms” lovely little nooks to escape to, should we be feeling overwhelmed or need a moment to ourself. These spaces are also available to pull aside one of our designated Listen and Connect Team for a chat, to share any concerns or worries we may be carrying.
I’ve written separate blogs about almost all the things I’m mentioning in this blog that are on our website, should you wish to learn more about them. There’s a search bar where you can access these blogs by typing in for example “Listen and Connect” or “Making Alongside”.
Spending time with the other members really is a special moment, each and every time. We all have our personal story’s too, some share their life’s freely, others are more quiet and we respect both. It feels like an extended family and there are friendships to make beyond studio sessions.
The Staff Team and Volunteers are all fabulous folk, who work well as a Team to ensure we have great things to be part of and who are all genuinely lovely people to be around.
I value everyone that I meet. Making lifelong bonds with folk can be more difficult as we get older, however at Designs in Mind it feels easier in our settings than in the big wide world!
I’ve had nights out with a handful of members, one to one walks, coffee and dinner meet ups with others.
I’ve attended one off workshops on Mondays and Fridays too, sometimes ongoing sessions with our Staff or Volunteers or one off sessions with local artists, who’ve given their time to present a varied array of creative mediums.
Come round to Wednesday which is my official Studio day. I get up earlier than usual as I’m excited to be with “my people”. The cameradie, banter and acceptance I feel is priceless. Oftentimes I rock up a tad late, other times I arrive early. I feel always accepted regardless. Sometimes I’ve managed to make the effort to dress nicely, mostly I’ve just chucked on some scruffy clothes and not had time to wash, but no one minds.
We start at 10am and usually that isn’t a great time for me to be around folk! Yet here in our studio, I’ve never felt uncomfortable or moody with folk being bright and breezy, chatting away and talking to me at that time in the morning! I really feel I can just be authentically me and I’m taken at face value, people like me however I’m presenting.
We offer to make hot drinks for one another too, which is lovely. We sit down for our morning check in, with thumbs up or down as an indication of how we might be feeling, again all feelings accepted. Our Studio Lead for the day, a Staff Member will share all thats going on for Designs in Mind, our projects past, present and whats to come. We are always included in much of the decision making and processes.
During the sharing of all our goings on, I’ll be making notes for future blogs and asking questions, so I know I’ve got my facts right!
Then it’s onto what’s happening today, often a choice of things we can participate with. Then we hunker down with our chosen piece and start our creative process. Staff are great at guiding us through and no question is a stupid one!
This week I created a Ceramic Lemon.
We’ve just introduced once a month mini members meetings, as part of our studio days. Where we talk about new ideas for our collaborative wants and needs, so we always feel involved.
We have a piece of paper go round for song choices from each member that gets added to a playlist and often some folk chose the same song, which I thought I’d find annoyingly repetitive, yet it’s been the opposite….it makes me smile and say aloud “well I wonder whose song choice this is” while glancing over to that member.
Myself and Carl are well known for our word play banter and that is such fun, sometimes the noise level elevates to an uncomfortable level, however Designs in Mind have a wonderful non offensive gesture to dissipate this, where someone or a couple of us raise an arm to the sky and a magical hush ensues!
I’ve wanted that to be a universal signal for quiet in other settings since I’ve been introduced to it! Once in OsNosh Community Kitchen I actually raised my hand as it was noisy and interestingly a few folk did look over and for a short moment it worked! Then I remembered where I was an felt a little embarrassed!
Our Studio session comes to an end at 1pm, however I get my work finished and mostly bob out early to catch a lunch at OsNosh, always tidying up my area before I leave and letting folk know I’m going. I take pictures of my creations to share on social media, sometimes asking permission to take photos of others work, that I may use for blogs.
A recent collage I produced
Fast forward to Friday afternoon and as an end of the week opportunity to work on our own creative home projects. We’ve a online optional Zoom session, Making Alongside available to us. This is lovely as we can connect with others, is invaluable for some members who struggle to make it into weekly sessions in person and helps us find the time to work on arts and crafts that are of our own choice. Just knowing this is available to bolster us pre weekend, is fabulous, as it’s a boost to be around folk we know and love.
We have Annual General Meetings, Executive Board Meetings, Christmas parties and the occasional collaborative socal launches to attend too. So there is always something to get involved in.
We close for 1 week in the Summer for Staff to have a planning week, oftentimes members arrange meet ups to fill that gap, if need be. There is a wind down over the Festive period too. Often there is space created to meet at the studio for a fun and games day or two, ran by members and volunteers, ensuring we have connection during the festive season.
This gives our Staff much deserved time off, for them and their families, as they work so hard to ensure our organisation keeps ticking throughout the year.
All in all there is such a plethora of things to be involved in and we always have choices, which helps to keep us sociable, creative and keep ongoing weekly connections to other members.
I hope this sharing of the wonderful array of things we offer, has wetted your whistle to get yourself down on our waiting list, to join us. When you do you’ll start with a 12 weeks new referrals session to ease you in with other newbies and from there, your surely be hooked! I know I was and I like to think I’ll be a member well into my Ninety’s!
You can ask your Support Workers, Social Prescribers, Doctors or other Health professionals to refer you to us email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading and should you choose to join us, we look forward to warmly welcoming you into the fold.
Blog Written & researched by Willow, Member & Social Media Coordinator