TIME TO CHANGE'S FESTIVE NETWORKING EVENT IN THE NORTH EAST
Photography: RJ Photography
A Time To Change event, you say?
Networking, you say?
With 'festive' in the title?
I've always said that your environment can have a huge impact on your motivation (or lack of) to work/be productive. So, being in a warm room that's 'dec'd' with tinsel and a giant cardboard snowman, and smelling of cocktail sausages, coffee, and mince pies; instantly had you in that 'excited-and-happy' Christmas spirit! For me, that kind of feeling can spread around an entire room; so that as well as the tempting smells of the food buffet, there was also an excited and almost hyper, atmosphere in the room. Everyone was eager to meet with everybody and to talk about everything... And to eat everything!
[This event was held at Broadacre House, Newcastle]
We talked about how, as different as everyone may be, everyone had experienced 'wobbles' in life and some individuals shared the personal experiences that had first motivated their work in raising awareness of mental health and campaigning against the stigma held against it. Andrew Lister; the President of Mind The Gap (a Newcastle University Student Union mental health society), talked about how the limited mental health services available to students of Newcastle University had inspired him. A few of the Newcastle group of Time To Change Champions, mentioned how their own bad experiences as an inpatient in mental health services, had given them the determination to make changes to prevent others from having that same experience. One volunteer, talked about how volunteering can actually be beneficial to her mental health and was met by a lot of agreement when talking about areas of improvement for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services(CAMHS). A representative of Investing in Children was particularly in agreement with talks about a project intended to give CAMHS service users a voice that would actually make a difference in causing services to make changes and improvements. An ex-service user; attending the event as a Peer Support Worker with NTW, talked about wanting to have people move away from using the word 'recovery' (and replace it with 'discovery') after personally finding the contradictory and varied definitions of it, detrimental to his mental health.
The representatives of companies and organisations, spoke about both their current, and upcoming work around mental health. And not only did this benefit each other by means of inspiration, it also allowed volunteers to hear about very varied, and unique work that they'd like to be involved in.
The Pepsi Mental Health Champion (and Time To Change Employee Champion), began an exciting conversation among the group after saying that the one thing she wanted to get from the event, was tips, ideas, and advice, in preparation for Time To Talk Day. And so everyone began sharing ideas, with some volunteers asking to work on different projects.
This, had been another reason to host such an event - to bring together people from different organisations and have everyone knowing what is going on in the area so that more people can get involved and help and support one another. And to aid everyone to do so, Angela Slater talked us all through the Time To Change website; which provides tools to make it easier to get involved in tackling stigma and the tools TTC offer to help you do so. The website's two key features for this, are the events page to use as inspiration, and the Resources page where you can easily create a poster or other advertisement (there's even bunting!) for your own event whilst still including the Time To Change images, logo, and colour scheme.