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
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."
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
"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."