Here at Designs in Mind, our members have regular access to a Listen and Connect Team, which consists of some of our staff team and volunteers. Although the main aim of Designs in Mind studio is to produce high-quality art products, there is a dedicated team of listeners, n hand to support members while they’re at the studio.
Designs in Mind recognises the need for this service, as we work with adults experiencing mental health challenges.
This in-house Listen and Connect idea has proved to be a much-valued benefit to many of our members. There are many ways that this helps our members to face their mental health challenges.
My other listening ear is Oscar
Sometimes it involves signposting to other organisations, oftentimes it helps so much at the moment, therefore addressing our needs there and then, on the day we might need it most. It acts as an in-between bridge, while we may be awaiting a Doctor’s appointment or are on referral lists to Mental Health support services, alleviating the need to talk through our issue in the interim.
To become one of the facilitators on the Listen and Connect Team it is essential to attend the Listen and Connect Training with the Samaritans, that present their listening model. Listen and Connect is not a counselling service but a listening ear available throughout the studio sessions.
For me personally, over the 18 months that I’ve been a member, I’ve requested many private chats with various Listen and Connect Facilitators.
I’ve found this to be of great value in times of need.
The subjects I’ve needed support with have varied from just a good offload of feelings, to a specific chat about my general wellbeing. Having a listening ear on a problem I’ve been facing, that after sounding it out, then having it reflected back to me, it’s helped me find my own solutions.
Deeper chats have taken place about fears I’ve been battling with, chats about feeling lonely, isolated and depressed. Each and every single time, by being brave to share what I’m dealing with, I’ve left the studio feeling massively better than when I arrived with my burden.
I asked other members what it means to them, one of our members shared: “I lost my CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) care some years ago and ever since felt completely forgotten about by them for support I really needed.
The Listen and Connect team at Designs in Mind have been my saviour!
Without them I wouldn’t have made it through a very dark 3 months, which I was facing 2 years ago. Ever since the time, the Listen and Connect support has helped me not go back to that dark place again. Being heard and listened to, feeling validated and helped to ground my thoughts has been such wonderful support for me. Not only does it help me to continue to attend the studio but to also manage my weeks. I am so grateful and indebted to the Listen and Connect team for always caring.” Anonymous
Thanks to that member for your bravery in approaching the team for help, we recognise that is not always an easy decision, however we actively encourage our members to seek out help, to not struggle in silence.
I was keen to know more about what’s involved for a Staff Team facilitator of Listen and Connect, here’s what Stuart shared about the role: “Initially listening training is provided by our partners Shrewsbury Samaritans, we use the listening model recommended by Samaritans, which involves Encouraging, Reflecting, Clarifying, Summarising, Silence and Reacting.”
I wondered how often Stuart finds his Listen and Connect skills might be called upon? Stuart shared: “I use listening skills every day, both professionally and in my daily life.”
I was interested in who Stuart may go to when he needs a Listening ear and a Connection himself? He shared: “I have a counsellor who provides listening support which is invaluable, having a non-judgemental listener, who is not biased in any way is very different to a friend or family member, though I am also fortunate to have family and friends who support me too.”
I imagined it must be a satisfying role, to be able to help our members cope with what life throws at them, so I enquired with Stuart, asking how does it make you feel to be such a valued resource to our members? Stuart shared: “It feels rewarding to be a part of the listening team and I consider myself very fortunate to work at Designs in Mind. It also at times feels like a big responsibility sharing in people’s lives and being aware of my own limitations can be hard.”
I tied up my inquisitive questions asking if Stuart wanted to add anything else he may feel relevant? He told me: “Having a listener can make the difference between finding stress unbearable and being able to cope, there will always be stress and pain but when we feel truly heard our energy levels are replenished and the burden is lightened.”
I feel Stuart has really summed up what Listen and Connect means to our members.
I take this opportunity to remind our members of the opportunity to speak to the Listen and Connect Team, when things you maybe facing are difficult, if your not sure whose on the Team then do enquire when your at the studio.
Massive thanks for sharing Stuart and a huge thank you to all of those on the Listen and Connect Team, we members really do value all the things we are blessed to have on offer at Designs in Mind.
Blog Written & researched by Willow, Member & Social Media Coordinator