Here for you group sessions help Kirklees residents tackle isolation and feel more independent
Four months into the project Here for You Mentors felt that it would be beneficial to offer some group sessions to our participants accessing support.
All of the attendees have complex needs, health problems and some have suffered traumatic life events that were impacting on their ability to lead a good quality of life. So it was important that we created a session that they felt comfortable to be in, starting with a small session.
What is the aim of the session?
The aim of the session was to create a safe space where people could partake, observe and have the opportunity to interact with people in a similar situation to themselves, helping them to meet new people and feel less socially isolated.
What happened at the session?
For an ice breaker and to get conversations flowing we developed a workshop using crafting methods to create a “Tree of Positivity, asking the participants to think of 5 positives traits initially and then come up with some short and long term goals and a plan of how to achieve them.
At first, the participants all said that they couldn’t think of anything positive to say about themselves. Some of them looked very anxious and as if they were struggling to stay in the session. However, as they got talking they were able to point out positive traits about each other this then opened up a conversation about the importance of trying to get out of the house and meet people where ever possible in order to receive these confidence boosts.
Some of the traits that our participants listed about themselves were – ambitious, loyal, kind, sensitive, generous, helpful, creative and respectful. It was astounding that they had started out by saying that they did not have anything positive to say about themselves to then not only listing positive qualities but their long term aspirations for the future as well.
Who attended the session?
Ronan has recently suffered a bereavement, his dad died only 2 months ago and he has no other support. He is completely isolated and does not leave the house, he has anxiety and depression as well as chronic pain from an on-going injury and suffers with PTSD which stems from being a victim of crime earlier in life.
At the start of the session he was very emotional especially at the start of the session. At the end he said that it had been a great help having people to talk to. He was very proud of making his own way to and from the session, staying for the full 3 hours and leaving feeling that he had made positive steps towards progression.
Lizzie suffers from regular panic attacks; she has little support in her home life. She has been a victim of a serious assault which has led to her being housebound. Her family live in another country and so she gets lonely very easily. She was keen to come to the session and her main aim was to get through the full session without having a panic attack and having to leave. She was also keen to find out about future sessions and other activities that she could join in with which is massive progression considering she was housebound before being referred to H4U.
Yannis came to the UK as an asylum seeker 6 years ago and has not managed to make any friends in that time. He came to the session and engaged throughout; he got talking to the other participants and said that he felt like he has made friends. He said if he had not been referred to Here for You, he would not leave the house.
Sofia has also suffered a recent bereavement. Her brother who was her only friend died a few months ago. He used to take her everywhere and was her main company; he used to drive her back to Manchester so that she could see her old friends as this is where she is originally from and since moving to Huddersfield she has always felt like she did not fit in. Sofia never leaves the house, she lacks confidence and so struggles to get out to anything. Sofia said that she really wanted to come to the session but did not know where it was and did not want to walk in alone so her mentor met her at a café she was familiar and comfortable with and walked her up from there. At the end of the session she thanked the mentors; she said that she loved that she felt so welcome and a real part of something. Sofia also said that without the support of a Mentor, she would not leave the house.
What feedback did the group session receive?
“I loved every minute, I would have just sat in the house like every other day if I had not been invited today ”.
“I feel like I have made new friends who understand me”.
“My goal was to get through a full session without a panic attack which I have done and I feel really proud”.
The group took home the work they had done on identifying positive qualities so they could have a daily reminder of this confidence boost.