23 Nov 2018

For mental health awareness day last month, some members of the Active Inclusion team visited the Arts Factory in Ferndale, who are running an Active Inclusion project, funded by the European Social Fund, called ‘Changing People, Changing Lives’.

The focus of the project is to improve people's soft skills and help them get closer to the jobs market - things like someone's confidence, that aren't obviously measurable in the way that, say, being able to programme an app or build furniture are, but can still have a big impact on their wellbeing. While improving employability is a goal of Active Inclusion supported projects though, it is not the only one - a focus on improving someone's confidence or mental health can have a positive effect on their lives.

Gareth has been a volunteer through 'Changing People, Changing Lives' and said of his experience: "Volunteering has gotten me out of the house and has built my confidence to do things. It has taken bravery and time to adjust. I knew I had to do something as I was in a downward spiral."

Active Inclusion participants with the Arts Factory can come from a variety of different backgrounds - some have disabilities, some do not, but they often find they have a lot in common. Another volunteer, Stephanie, said "I came not really knowing what to expect or where I was going, but as soon as I walked through the door at my first session I was put at ease."

Stephanie arts factory


The sessions about mental health Stephanie took part in helped her realise she wasn't alone, and there were others with similar problems. "It really helped sharing my experiences with everyone. My confidence grew, I made new friends and my anxiety lowered."

Stephanie has now successfully completed her time on The Arts Factory's Active Inclusion project, but her experience with them has left a lasting impression that's pushed her to keep on helping others and making the most of what she has personally gained from European Funding.

"I am now volunteering with an amazing organisation and getting out and about, living my life, and it's all thanks to the Arts Factory. If it wasn't for their sessions on mental health I think I would still be hiding from the world at home, but now I'm on to a new chapter in my life."

Arts factory