Living Life to the full, as a Designs Member

This week’s blog is about how my own Social Anxieties have improved, through being around the people involved at the Designs in Mind studio. It’s been an epic journey for me here, from initial groups to attending Singing and Reading groups, becoming a fully-fledged member and last year coming out of my shell in August with the Balloon Carnival public workshops.

My comfort zone has certainly been expanded and this has made a direct impact on my well-being. I’d like to extend a massive thanks to Designs in Mind as an organisation, they have helped me raise my confidence.

Due to their wonderful groups, kind and welcoming people and great business ethos. During the time I’ve been attending, since March 2022, I’ve been working on reestablishing myself a social life.

Due to getting to know fellow Members, Staff and Volunteers here at the studio, its not only given me friends, its given me a new, chosen family of folk, whom I trust enough to venture out of an evening with, after years of being a hermit at home with knocked confidence, from going through a difficult time.

These are now the friendly faces I trust so deeply, that I feel safe in busy, noisy, crowded public houses, as much as I do in smaller venues.

The first event I attended, along with a few members, was to see the Emma Linney Band perform at the lovely former chapel, Hermon Arts Centre in July 2022, we all felt confident to go along as Stuart who runs our Singing group, is the bass guitarist with the band.

What a fantastic night that was, the music was my kind of thing and it moved me emotionally.

The second social night was back in November last year at Twisted Taste in town, a very intimate gig with local talent, Craig Harding Acoustic. Thanks to Twisted Taste for reserving and moving our seats around to ensure our participation with Craig, we all sang our hearts out that evening.

We ended up as a girls night out with 7 of us. We felt really confident to attend this, as Craig was a Volunteer singer and guitarist at our weekly Singing group with Designs and made us all feel so welcomed, really comfortable and part of his set!

Next up was our Scion collaboration, design launch and joint leaving party for Elin, one of our Studio Artists. The venue was Knock & Stitch, where we had it all to ourselves for a few hours, they were fabulous hosts, nothing was too much trouble and they allowed us to get Amber’s Pizza takeaway brought in!

I loved that evening, we had a complimentary glass of bubbles, staff from Scion Living attended, we gave Elin a lovely send off and the speeches made the corners of my eyes leak a little.  I recall how I started to feel closer friendships forming that evening.

In December 2022, we had our High Street Shop Launch, this took place in the shop and new studio area. Our members who attend our Singing Group got up to the front to sing a few songs, I loved being part of that.

Once again, we had very moving speeches from Staff and Members, I read out a poem I wrote in Acrostic form, dedicated to Designs In Mind and how they’ve made me feel.

During that evening I decided to rally a few of us to eat out, as didn’t want the evening to end,, so I organised a last minute table for ten, at Amber’s Pizza who very kindly accommodated us before closing time.

More recently we’ve been out to a see Craig”s live acoustic set again, with a handful of the girls and we literally danced the night away.

This leads me to give a massive thank you and shout our to Oswestry’s home grown talent himself, Craig Harding Acoustic who I’d highly recommend you go to see, book for your venue or event to support him.

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You’d not be disappointed, he’s got such a great tone and range, is a real crowd pleaser and all round lovely guy.

You can follow him here on Facebook

I decided to ask Craig a few questions about his own Designs in Mind journey as Volunteer with us.

Here’s what he told me…

“I volunteered at Designs in Mind for 6 months.

I chose Designs because it was a local organisation and because I’d heard many great things about it.

I also knew several people who had either worked there or been members.

I have a passion for helping others who are struggling with mental health challenges as I have been there myself and I know how desperate it can feel.

I try to use my music to put a smile on people’s faces whenever possible”   I asked Craig more about his music career and if Designs helped him too.

Craig shared “At the time I had just started out as a solo performer, I was still building up my confidence.  The extremely positive reaction from the group towards my singing/guitar playing, and the support of several members who have attended my gigs, has been amazing. Knowing that I have friends there supporting me when I perform goes a long way to easing the anxiety I often feel when performing”.

Big thanks to Craig for sharing this with us.

We are all really proud of his achievements, he is an inspiration to us.

I’d personally like to thank Craig for being a good friend and support to me when I’ve been navigating really challenging times and for stepping in to write me some quotes and provide pictures for this blog.

Blog Written by Willow,  Member & Social Media Coordinator