As Creative Program Assistant I develop the art program and I facilitate all Arty-Folks therapeutic art groups and I am so excited that the Heart of England Community Foundation has granted us £75,000 to run ‘MAKING HEADWAY’, a 3year program for young adults 18-30 years old that will help them to overcome mental ill health and thrive in life.
20% of people who come to Arty-Folks because of poor mental health are between 17-25 years old and most suffer with social anxiety. Does that surprise you? As a young person we are expected to be carefree, confident, optimistic, social, popular, intelligent, and make our way in the world with a good job, a steady relationship, buy a house, have fun, be successful, and have tons of Facebook friends. Expectations are huge and the fear of failure is crippling. Our parents, bless their cotton socks, may have done their best but didn’t manage to set us up with the right skills and confidence to just get out there and make headway.
I am 23 years old now and I was one of them when I came across Arty-Folks while I was a 2nd year Fine Art student at Coventry University. I attended a presentation and I was so impressed the artwork people had produced and their journeys of self-discovery. I immediately felt I wanted to be part of it because I could see that art had a meaning, a clear purpose with Arty-Folks. I volunteered at workshops for nearly 2 years before taking on this job a year ago and it has not stopped challenging me. I am still learning about art and people myself, developing my skills and growing as a person.
Our new group Making Headway will support young adults to make sense of their experiences and their feelings, and to tell their story through their own artwork. The young adults who currently attend our workshops have started meeting as a group to start talking how they want Making Headway to offer and what they want to get out of it.
Together we decided that
- the group will run every Tuesdays 1pm-3pm and can be joined any time throughout the year
- we will learn traditional art skills like drawing, painting, ceramics and also use video, photography, animation to develop a powerful visual and verbal language
- beginners are very welcome and everyone will be able to learn at their own pace
- the group will remain small, relaxed, and informal so that even everyone has a chance to express themselves and be heard
- everyone can build a personal art portfolio that can be used to access further education.
- we will exhibit our artwork to celebrate our achievements and to step out of our comfort zone
- we will publish a book of stories and artwork to encourage more young adults to seek support
I wasn’t sure how it would feel facilitating a group for my peers but it was amazing! We talked, we shared our experiences with the pressures to conform and struggling to fit in, and it didn’t feel like showing weakness. In fact, it felt assertive, compassionate, accepting, and confident. We talked about how it feels when you feel different to others and that when you opt out of the mainstream your peers will label you as week, as different, and that gives them licence to abuse you, to bully you. We all know now that being bullied leads to poor mental health and anxiety but admitting to it is still socially generally unacceptable particularly for young people.
So perhaps you know a family member, a friend, or a friend of a friend who is struggling to cope with daily living and who need support to get back on their feet. Let them know about Arty-Folks even if they do not have a massive interest in art because even if we can’t help we may know somebody somewhere who can.
To join Making Headway send us a message on Facebook/Arty-Folks or email email@example.com or text 074 4364 3634.