“For two weeks staff and volunteers from IAM News visited a meeting run by the charity Caer Las, Connect, a charity and project that has been set up largely to help homeless people and those suffering with mental illness. It was a very relaxed, informal setting, which in my view is always the best setting to deal with anything. If people get too tense they never show themselves and therefore any form of rehabilitation will be very difficult. The meetings we attended used poetry as a method for people to express themselves. There was a very simple plan to the meetings; once basic “How do you do’s?” had been covered the participants were given a chance to choose a topic. Once we had a topic in the air, in just five minutes some very impressive poems were created. I could see how this method of expression was very helpful to the people involved.
“The second meeting again used poetry, only this time the participants were given a theme, and had to interpret this as they may. And again were given some time to create a poem. It’s very reassuring to me to see that people with varying backgrounds can still come together, and find such easy methods to help one another. In a world where there is so much to divide us a tool as simple as poetry can be used to unite people suffering with a variety of things, be it simple or complex. And I know how terrifying it can be to receive a diagnosis, and suddenly feel alone. Even if you are surrounded by people, it is possible to feel alone. So if just meeting a couple of people who understand how you feel is available your world seems not quite so small.” – Tom Parsell
The Connect Project is a client-led community resource centre dedicated to working with adults living with or recovering from mental health difficulties: “Our aim is to provide a social framework that can enable adults living with mental health issues and other vulnerable people, to live as fulfilled lives as possible. We work to combat the personal and social consequences of mental illness, to promote innovative, client-led approaches to recovery, and to facilitate mental well-being through therapeutic activity.”
According to Educational Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, connectedness “is a sense of being a part of something larger than oneself. It is a sense of belonging, or … that feeling in your bones that you are not alone. It is a sense that, no matter how scary things may become, there is a hand for you in the dark. While ambition drives us to achieve, connectedness is that which urges us … to enter into mutual relationships, to take strength and to grow through cooperative behavior”.
Swansea MAD’s ‘Generation You’ volunteers went along to Connect to connect with its therapeutic writing group. Thanks to Connect and tutor Ceri Thomas for giving us the opportunity to share their experience. All photographs by Tom Parsell.
Writers at work: The Connect therapeutic writing group at Caer Las get to it.
The group respond to the theme, “What is heroic about coping with a mental health challenge?”
Write what you feel!