Mind in Harrow is a mental health charity that supports people of all ages with a variety of different issues. Harrow Times reporter Bruce Thain went to one of its weekly craft sessions to find out more about the group's work.
For the past six months I have been working with mental health charity Mind in Harrow helping organise an inter-school quiz competition MasterMind.
However during this time I realised I was not entirely sure what the charity actually does. I know its staff and volunteers provide help for more than 1,000 people in Harrow with mental health issues, but I did not know what their work involved.
To find out more I asked to join in with one of the charity’s Cafe Craft events in central Harrow to see one of the many ways it supports people in the borough.
The activities event was part of the Stepping Stones programme, which includes a range of activities including crafts, yoga, English courses and computer courses.
More than a dozen participants, plus a tutor and two volunteers, sat together, talked and made bead bracelets and necklaces. There was a busy but relaxed atmosphere and from speaking with the others they clearly felt safe and secure here and enjoyed each other’s company.
During my morning I spoke to Desmond Gaymon, project coordinator for the Stepping Stones programme. He explained to me people who have a mental health issue can be left feeling isolated and alone. Mind aims to get them out in social situations and engaging with other people.
While trying to make a small bracelet and losing several beads I spoke to Gail Moss, who has been taking part in Mind activities for four years. She said: “I’ve always enjoyed coming to Mind activities. I know everyone here and it’s good to meet with them once a week.”
Angie Sibley, 53, previously benefited from support from the charity and has been doing different courses for nearly 12 years. Now she volunteers with the charity and helps run the weekly craft course for Mind.
She said: “I think people who come to these courses find it’s a safe environment for them and they know it’s with others who understand what they are going through.”
Desmond also spoke to me about the core principles of the charity. He said: “The main aim of Mind is to help people with their recovery from mental illness. What we do is help with the other side of recovery, helping rebuild them as a person and rebuild their lives.
Tutor Sue Makonnen leads the group each week with the help of two volunteers.
She said: “Activities like this are a great way to build confidence. It really helps the fact they are in a social situation with each other and with the general public. It gives them the confidence to be out. It has such a positive effect on all of them and I’ve seen real changes in a lot of people who come here.”
Having spent the morning with Mind’s volunteers and the people they help I got the sense everyone there benefited from and enjoyed the morning’s activities. According to the organisation, one in four of us will be affected by mental illness at some point in our lives. For me it is reassuring to know that organisations like Mind are here to help those in need.