The Big Six – Jenny

Member Stories

This blog is part of a series of articles where you can get to know more about our Members. The Members of Designs In Mind are our Designer Makers- learning skills in a variety of forms that create the beautiful products we sell in our shop. All our Members are in touch with Mental Health services in Shropshire and everyone has a different story. The Big Six shares a little insight into who they are and what they do here at Designs In Mind.

Jenny this is your Big Six are you ready?

1. How do you describe what you do at Designs In Mind to other people

In a sentence to others I describe ‘Designs in Mind’ as my ‘art’ group where we fulfil public art commissions around Shropshire without it being a painting and drawing class. Then I will expand to the fact we use various materials from wire for sculptures, recycled materials, glass and pottery and embroidery and appliqué etc, all done by people who experience mental health issues like myself, and to an extremely high standard.

I will tell them how important Designs in Mind is to me in helping me to express my creativity and how supportive everyone is especially if I’m plagued by another episode of depression. I feel proud to tell people that my work has included wire sculptures at the Hope House Hospice in Oswestry and I’ve even sold a piece of needle felt to a visitor to the studio. I’ve seen my other work sold at the Christmas sale every year which is a delight, to feel that its worthy of someone buying it.

I tell people how important Designs in Mind is for those who are struggling with mental health issues. Not only have I seen the progress I have made but I also see it in others.

I feel it is important to tell people that Designs in Mind delivers this service through paid commissions and retail sales, the small amount of subsidy from the NHS is vital.

2. Name 3 of your specialist skills here…

(1) I’ve been delighted that I have been able to master stencil cutting. After being taught the art of this, and getting my head around it too, I can sketch something and cut it out so it comes alive and then there are so many uses for it. It can be used for screen printing, for laminating into lampshades and creating book covers etc.

(2) Appliqué and embroidery is something that I have picked up again and developed since I first learned this out of a Usborne book back when i was 11yrs old! I really enjoy transforming a sketch into a fabric piece, using various fabric shapes and then sewing them on and embroidering detail into it to form a visual art piece. One piece I have done was part of the cat quilt that was raffled off at Christmas 2014 and was also photographed and then used as postcards and made into a wooden jigsaw. I am so proud of this. I love that I have been taught how to achieve high enough quality that its saleable. I would love somehow in the future for my creativity to be involved in any future paid employment.

(3) Needle felting is where I use coloured wool in its raw form to create pictures by using a barbed needle and pricking it repeatedly into a flat piece of wool felt. I love the way it progresses and comes together. Building up the fine details to finish, you can produce a piece like a landscape or even the close up of a peacock feather, as I once did. The finished piece can be sewn into cushions or glued onto wooden frames to be hung as a picture etc. It comes together much like a painting. Starting with your background and building it up and then pricking it more and more to get detail and a smooth finished look. It is very satisfying to do and I am very grateful for the skills I have been taught from designs in mind.

3. What are your favourite words of wisdom?

I love using inspirational quotes as they remind us of what IS possible in ourselves and what WE CAN achieve. Living with poor mental health is a daily challenge on so many levels. It’s not about having enough will power to think differently, like some people still believe and say “pull yourself together” but rather the issues your mental health is dealing with that cloud the world you live in and see. One favourite quote I have on my kitchen door is…

No-one is ever too broken, too scared or too far gone to create change.

Never stop fighting. Never loose faith


4. The votes are in- You’ve won! If you got elected as Prime Minister what changes would you like to see in healthcare?

I would really like to see more education in society to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. Why should it be the fight of those dealing with mental health issues to try and combat this alone? The government really should be doing more and to help reduce the fear that society has as well. The fear that those who don’t currently have poor mental health may ‘catch’ it! The fear of those who do have poor mental health being a threat to them and their families. It really is ‘last century’. There has been a lot of bad press about those claiming benefits, people not able to work being benefit cheats. Everyone is an individual and everyone whether they have a physical illness or a mental health illness and are unable to work have the right to claim benefits without it being in question from your neighbours, or your family or society.

With budgets now being severely reduced and services closing, money has had to be directed towards acute care. However, there is so much support needed for people BEFORE they get to the point of needing acute care. With the right support many suffering mental health issues could even be prevented from getting to this point. There seems to be a huge gap between a GP’s primary care and then needing hospitalisation.

The services that were in place a few years ago have mostly been shut and the NHS have been relying on the families and friends of patients to help them but there are so many reasons why this is inadequate in itself and so many people who don’t have the family and friends to provide the support needed. It would make such a difference to bring back the ‘Social Inclusion Recovery Services’ and to provide more ‘crises houses’, where a patient in a crisis can receive immediate support for a few days which can prevent the crisis becoming more acute and is of such benefit to the patient. This often prevents them from loosing their employment, requiring a hospital admission or relapsing into a full mental health episode lasting several months.

5. What inspires you?

What inspires me, is people who have fought hard despite many personal and mental health issues and yet moved forward in their lives. Having been in mental health services for some years, I have had the privilege of meeting so many inspiring people. People who have been ill and yet they have fought so hard to improve themselves and get the life they want and deserve. For many it has taken years working towards their recovery but with their determination not to give up trying they haven’t let Dr’s or their diagnosis mean the end of having a fulfilling life. I aspire to these people and I myself am on my own journey of recovery. I feel I am finally making some progress.

6. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard people say about Mental Health?

Actually, it was only repeated again the other day, and that is that a baby or child would be in danger being brought into contact with people who have mental health issues. It is outrageous! If we were dangerous, we would be on ‘section’ (enforced detention) at the local mental health hospital. The majority of people who suffer mental health issues are the most gentle, caring and sensitive people I have ever known and in no way, in ‘normal’ circumstances, would a child or baby be at risk in our company. How wrong is the stigma in society and how sad that in 2015 these opinions are still out there.

Thank You Jenny.