Roving Loom; weaving hope, untangling stigma from mental health

The Roving Loom originated because I wanted to do something to financially support Designs in Mind; a studio which aided my recovery through a particular low period and (spoiler alert) still helps me live with bi-polar.

My experience with Designs in Mind showed me how innovative it was compared with conventional NHS treatments, unlike CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), years of medication, talking therapies etc which focused on me as a patient to be ‘fixed’ within a timeslot, Designs in Mind saw me a person, someone who didn’t need mending, just a safe space to ride out whatever high or low I was going through whilst being productive and contributing, making a visible difference.

My time in the studio coincided with my final year studying with the Open University, for me it made sense to link my dissertation to the studio; how to prevent a studio designed for vulnerable adults, being vulnerable to closure due to governmental financial pressures, leaving a void in the community.

I loved my studio time, the sense of calm making gave me as well as a new-found sense of purpose. For Uni I worked on an idea of developing a tangible product to bridge the gap between my time in the studio and at home, a product that could be sold in the shop to generate earned income, lessening the reliance on grants. So I developed the Roving Loom- The portable weaving loom.

I wanted it to be lightweight, for ease of use (for children, older people and all in-between) and to make it portable so it could be used in potential stressful situations e.g. train journeys, giving people a chance to switch off from screens and take time out for themselves.

The bright, bold colours were influenced by Jolt’s ethos, I wanted to use fun, happy, vibrant colours as living with mental illness is no longer dark and lonely, for me. I don’t want to hide away anymore, I’m challenging myself (and sometimes succeeding) and want to help challenge others too.

Making with your hands has many benefits for the mind – reducing stress, anxiety and helping with general mental wellbeing, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience this in the studio.

But not everyone has a Designs in Mind, so this is where the Roving Loom fits in. It’s made from recycled acrylic so it helps the planet as well as our minds and supports Designs in Mind, as income generated from the sales will go back into the studio so they can help someone else like they’ve done for me.

I recognise the potential, the creativity and confidence within myself, I can now see myself the way those around me do. I’ve rediscovered a resilient, resourceful version of me.

I know the loom is a drop in the ocean in terms of filling the funding gap, but it’s a start, and it’s helping weave hope and continuing Designs in Minds work to challenge stigma associated to mental health.

Rakhee’s story is an inspiration and she launches this product in the JOLT shop on Social Saturday- the 13th of October. You can also have a play and join in a workshop to try out the Roving Loom.

You can meet Rakhee and here more of her story at our Celebrating Social Enterprise event on the 16th of October, and you can get your tickets here-

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