‘A Sense Of Achievement’

The Steve Morgan Foundation were delighted to make a grant funding award over three years totalling just over £50,000 to Designs In Mind, a charity based in Oswestry which aims to secure the best possible future for support of mental health. They do this in a hugely innovative way, in a friendly environment which gives their visitors a purpose and pride in their achievements. Designs In Mind tell us more below….

 

“The pride and sense of achievement expressed by members as their work is installed in the public domain or is being purchased purely on the merit of the design and quality of the product cannot be underestimated… people don’t just buy from us because we are ‘a good cause’.”

Kath Diggens

 

We are a working studio and together we are finding ways to live life and challenge mental health stigma. We do this through the production of high quality, experimental and ambitious art and design work and, in the last nine months we have been supported by The Morgan Foundation, things have changed dramatically. The main change is that we are now no longer just a studio, now we are a studio and shop.

Our retail brand is JOLT and this year we have opened our first shop. This has transformed who we are and what we do. In a nutshell…

  • A safe space within a shop ensures ‘mental health’ becomes part of everyday life
  • Being on the high street makes it easier for people to find help without judgment, stigma, or shame
  • Everyone starts talking about mental health
  • The shop makes visible lives and stories that can often be hidden
  • The shop sells work that has been made and designed by members of the studio
  • Makers get immediate feedback seeing work they have made sold
  • Safe space for makers to communicate and chat to strangers
  • New roles and responsibilities are created from studio to shop
  • 100% of sales revenue goes towards sustaining and developing the work of Designs in Mind.

Alongside our retail production, over this year we have we have been commissioned to design and make…

  • Awards for companies like Northumbrian Water, Willmott and Dixon, Social Enterprise UK
  • A mosaic entrance and 50 perspex flying birds for a family café in Oswestry – Baby Bird CIC
  • And we are about to embark on a new commission to transform a community library to become a multi-purpose building

What impact does it have on our members?

“Being at Designs in Mind is an outward sign that I am worth something, that I am valued and of value”

All our members are adults referred through mental health services. We teach the skills needed to participate such as textiles, glass, ceramics, recycled materials, wood, wire and, most importantly, everyone learns to work within a group. Each project enables different people to take the lead. Not everyone always has the confidence to make decisions and work independently. We break tasks down, so on a bad day when making decisions seems impossible, people can help with backup tasks instead. A strong network of friends and a peer group is established. Members are creatively challenged and work with purpose, building their self-worth and discovering new aspirations for the future.

Our work is intensive and supports people as individuals, recognising that the recovery path they each take is different. The mental health needs of our members are varied, and include depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, stress, anxiety, social phobia and bi-polar. Many of our members have experience of living with suicidal thoughts. In addition to mental health needs, the challenges are complex including housing, benefits, drugs, alcohol, caring responsibilities and employment. Unlike most other mental health support groups, being a member in our studio is not time limited. Members can stay until they are ready to ‘move on’. For most of our members we see the transition from only coming out of the house to Designs in Mind to doing their own shopping, meeting their children from school, joining other groups, volunteering or going back to work.

Here are a few testimonies from those who have benefitted from their association with the charity.

When I was first introduced to Designs in Mind I was very nervous and would not enter the room without guidance. But I was immediately made to feel welcome and at home.

After 25 years I still need some support and look on other members as the family I do not have. Working on the various projects that reach all corners of the country makes me feel very proud. I feel as though I am achieving something in my life.

(Elaine, Member 25 years)

My first day at DIM was as a new referral. I remember turning up early, I was so nervous of what people would make of me and how I would respond to the people around me. I walked in and out of the studio door a few times. I was terrified and was saying to myself ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it…’ I was then spotted and greeted by Jo D. I was paired up with Val who helped me settle into the group. This was the key element that had been missing from my recovery, to be accepted with warmth and understanding and without judgment.

I still had the thoughts ‘I’m useless, what am I doing here’. But the members and staff just took me in and helped me feel at ease, helping me to discover things I’d never done before. I had conversations that made me realise I am not alone on my journey because they were going through similar experiences to me. I slept really well that night, something I had not done for a long time and coming here has truly helped me. I have now been a Designs in Mind Member for a year and attend twice a week.

(Sarah)

I have been coming to DIM for nearly two years and being here has provided me with an anchor during the week whilst I have been struggling with mental health challenges. I travel nearly 20 miles – but it’s worth it – and attend once a week.

We begin the day with a 10am meeting for all members and staff present. There are lots of smiles and welcoming hugs before Bridie talks us through the current projects that are available to work on. I enjoy learning new skills and love the sense of achievement when I have produced an item or my design is chosen for a product. We can chat to others or work in a quieter area if we prefer. There is always the opportunity to share if we are feeling wobbly. I feel the social aspect is important when sometimes you may not have spoken to anyone in a while. We eat lunch together and the whole day feels relaxed and inspiring with lots going on.

(Anonymous)

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