Fundraising for our inaugural Participants Council meeting

New Inn-7
Photo © The Landmark Trust, 2018 

Thanks to the Landmark Trust‘s 50 for Free scheme, we’ve been given New Inn as our home from home.

This two-day event at New Inn will be our first ever Participants Council, an opportunity for people from all our projects to share stories and ideas, and make decisions about our strategy.

The cost of transport is the biggest block to people joining our projects, adding to loneliness and worsening mental health. Members of our Participants Council are all on low income and are travelling from rural Norfolk, Suffolk and Wiltshire.

This will be a great way to create something special, stay in a fabulous historic building, meet old friends and make new ones.

Help make it an experience to remember!

Donate here

Advertisements

Human Henge: A view beyond the stones

By Mr BPD, our blogger for Human Henge at Stonehenge in 2017

I have started to write this several times and I have come to realise that I really hate self-promotion. Although this is more about how I got here than slapping myself on the back. but I am very happy and proud of how far I have come and what I hope to achieve.

My story starts in 1971 the year I was born, and one day I plan to write it; but this is about is about life after Human Henge, so lets start my story when I arrived in Wiltshire.

I realised after moving to Trowbridge that mental health service were much worse that the tiny village of Sherborn. Services were limited or miles away and I knew that something was needed and from my experience of mental health services I new that it had to be service user led and on going.

I had tried to set to things with up with mental health agencies. I found that not that they were resistant it was more an issues of resources or they were more interested in services that providing projects that were more geared either to returning to work or what I refer to as basket weaving (project are run for limited time offering no real structure).

I never gave up on the idea of starting something but although I had asked for help I could not get the support I needed. Time had moved on some, and well I really had become isolated and needed something to give a reason to leave the house and interact with other human beings.

Luckily the Human Henge Project came along which gave me a chance to rekindle a few skills, it allowed me to write under the name Mr BPD and reconnect to my spiritual side. After the project ended, which is always a sad part, the group stand together and in touch and meet up regularly.

This connection is the most important part of any project and it only comes when service users invest in a project. I had mentioned about setting up a sort of project based around a magazine and the feedback was good and lots of people were interested but sadly the service provided only wanted a basic writing group that I could see would just become a basket weaving group so declined the offer to run it as I did not have the skills I believed to make the project a success.

After a change in care coordinator who had different knowledge I was introduced to the person in charge of service user involvement.

After a few conversations it was very clear that we both wanted the same thing, a user led project that would grow into the service that is needed. I had been let down a few times so did not let myself get too invested.

Just before Christmas we met once again to talk about a venue and thought about Tesco Community Room so we made some enquiries, we found out that we met the requirements to use the room but the person in charge of the diary was not available and would not be back till the New Year so we left our details and waited for a call.

On the 11th January I got a call. Tesco had called they had a cancellation and they had a four-hour slot on Monday and could we meet on the 12th outside Tesco.

We met and agreed we would go for it four-hours on a Monday we walked and met with the person in charge of the room. Within minutes we had agreed to take the room on the coming Monday and on a long-term basis and came up with the name Trowbridge Users Group (TUG).

We then went off for a coffee and realised what we had just agreed to: it was lunchtime Friday and the first group would be on Monday. There was no time to get the word out but we would try.

So I rushed home to get the word out and by Saturday morning TUG had a functioning website, FaceBook page, Twitter account. The rest of the weekend was propagating content and making posters. And trying to put together a mission statement and a framework of ideas of how the group would run and how service users could be actively involved.

We had agreed to starting group as a coffee and chat drop-in and let the group grow organically after finding out what people wanted. I thought it would be good to involve as many service providers as possible, not to run the group but to come in as guest speakers and say what they do and how they can help and how to access the service. This way service users could take a more active roll in their recovery. We all know that the mental health service across this country has been starved of resources and staff are under a deal of great stress and many service users are not informed about services available so by inviting service providers users can take a proactive role in their recovery.

Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) has one main aim, which is to involve as many service users as possible and become a voice for change within mental health. We are actively encouraging service users to get involved in planning events and running on line service as FaceBook and Twitter Admin and as blog writers. We hope in time to have service users sharing their skills and business ideas and act as mentors to others. The possibilities for this project are endless and one day I hope it becomes the gold standard for service user involvement and will shape mental health services so they are more service user led.

Things are still in their early days but we have booked the Restoration Trust, Health Watch Wiltshire, and The Wiltshire and Swindon Users’ Network to come in and talk and explain what they do, in time I will be inviting more. And if you’re reading this and feel you have something to offer the mental health service user of Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) I would love to hear from you.

I will not devalue the work I have put and will put into Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) but I will say if it was not for the confidence and friends I gained from Human Henge I’m not sure I would have had the guts to push forward. They are a constant source of support and encouragement and have assisted in the launch of the Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) with help proofreading content and joining and sharing the TUG FaceBook page and retweeting news.

If you would like to more about Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) please visit

Web http://www.trowbridgeusersgroup.co.uk

FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/TUG2018/

Twitter @AdminTug

Email admin@trowbridgeusersgroup.co.uk

Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) runs every Monday 1 to 5 at the community room, Tesco Extra

County Way

Trowbridge

BA14 7AQ

Human Henge at TAG 2017 – Walking with Intent: Culture therapy in historic landscapes

Laura Drsydale, Director, Restoration Trust

There are these moments in time and space, these conjunctions, when ideas coalesce, and I wonder if TAG 2017 is one of them. Where we can talk about health, psychogeographies, forgetting, time, memory, poetry and place, and have a sense of resonance and reciprocity across our overlapping interests.

But I am at the end before the beginning, since resonance and reciprocity are words from the vocabulary of group analysis, to which I will come later.

I was at the session on archaeology and mental health at TAG 2015, when we were developing Human Henge. I watched the YouTube video of Dr Rathouse’s talk last night, and it reminded me how helpful the papers and conversations were to our thinking. This is a shared endeavor, so as a non-archaeologist, thank you TAG.

Now, I will tell you something about the Restoration Trust. We are a small charity that supports people to engage with heritage, art and culture so that their mental health improves. We call this culture therapy. We are usually producers – we broker partnerships, develop projects, find the money and manage the project.

Our current heritage foci are archaeology and the historic landscape, and archives. Why? Well, it’s partly pragmatic – availability and a culture of public entitlement to information in both arenas. But it is also because both archives and archaeology have a delicious tension between the quest for knowledge and the impossibility of total success in that quest. It is there, in the space between knowing and not knowing that our projects make a difference, for there is where imagination lives. More of that later too.

Heritage and mental health are certainly politically congruent at the moment. Mental health demand is rising, services are shrinking. National and local government need new ways to help people with their mental health, so all the various organs of the state, including lottery distributors, are on the case. Arts are front runners, for example with the report Creative Health published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts and Health. Museums are catching up through the work of Professor Helen Chatterjee and her colleagues, but the wider heritage lags behind, it lacks a champion. Yet here it is, all around us, visible, hidden or intangible; and the thought of therapeutic landscapes lies deep within us.

Our two current landscape projects are Human Henge at Stonehenge and now at Avebury, and Burgh Castle Almanac at Burgh Castle roman fort in Norfolk. Both projects are largely HLF funded. Burgh Castle Almanac kicks off properly in January.  It is a year-long 24-session programme – that happens two years running – of walking, talking and making at the Castle, and at Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth. Norfolk Archaeological Trust is the lead partner.

Human Henge you will hear about from Professor Darvill and Dr Heaslip, and I hope also from members who are here at TAG. Briefly, it is a programme of 10 weekly walks for a facilitated group accompanied by archaeologists and musicians. Pilot 1 ran from October to December 2016, Pilot 2 from January to March 2017. In January we will run Pilot 3 at Avebury, to see how a different site impacts on the process. There is masses of information about Human Henge online at www.humanhenge.org

I would like to pay tribute to the whole astonishing network of participants, support workers, volunteers, board members, funders, partners, experts, creatives, researchers and staff who are the project; they, along with the sites, the collections, the weather, the administration, the biscuits, make up the Human Henge matrix, to use group terminology once more.

Both Human Henge and Burgh Castle Almanac meet our Criteria for Success, listed on the slide.

Let’s take one of these – Groupwork is the core.

Foulkes[1] described what happens when a collection of individuals meets routinely together with someone he named a conductor:

“They will begin to live, feel, think, act and talk more in terms of ‘we’ than in terms of ‘I’, ‘you’, and he’. At the same time, and I want to stress this point, the individuals do not become submerged but, on the contrary, show up their personal characteristics more and more distinctly within the dynamic interplay of an everchanging and often highly dramatic scene. As soon as this little sample community shows signs of organization and structure in the way described, we will call it a group.”

This is what we are trying to achieve in Human Henge.

So over 10 weeks of sustained and regular involvement within a context of safe frameworks and practice, and with expert facilitation, in this case from Yvette Staelens with Daniel O’Donoghue, a group begins to form. How does a historic landscape help? Or rather how does being in a historic landscape in the company of people who know a lot about it help? Because that is one of our criteria – privileged access to real cultural assets AND expertise.

It is only human to be in nature, to use our bodies and minds, to connect with each other, to be creative. And it is certainly better than some of the alternatives, such as loneliness, boredom and sadness. But why the historic bit?

It is not a universal prescription, for strange as it may seem, not everyone is interested in the past! But for those who are, and who can find the strength to face the daunting prospect of a project like Human Henge, historic landscapes are one way to face down mental illness’s erosion of the self.

Mental illness attacks space. For example it fills mental space with futile rumination or terrifying psychosis, or it negates it with a horrible combination of restlessness and passivity in depression. It makes space malignant so that it cannot be traversed to connect with others. It compromises time as it telescopes the past into the present with all-consuming flashbacks. Without space to think, to act, nothing creative can happen, there can be no imagination, no relating. A group experience of a historic landscape illuminated by people who know about it open ups multiple vistas of temporal, topographical and psychological space. It is a short cut to the imagination.

When people feel safe enough to take the enormous risk of embarking on a journey in both time and space, taking part in a strange wellbeing experiment in some fields, albeit fields that are among the most famous on the planet, with people they have never met, that’s when they may do things they never thought possible. It is when, hopefully, they can enjoy the richness of their own humanity.

I will leave you with this poem by Chris Jessup.

 

[1] S. H. FOULKES (1946) “ON GROUP ANALYSIS” Originally published in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 27:46‐51, 1946. Later in a shortened version in Selected Papers: Psychoanalysis and Group Analysis, pp. 137‐144, eds. M. Pines y E. Foulkes, Karnac Books, Londres: 1990.

 

Human Henge Press – December 2017

The Wild Hunt

The role of ancient landscapes in mental health 

by Liz Williams

Modern celebrants have been convening at the ancient site of Stonehenge in Wiltshire for many years now: revivalist Druids of the early 20th century, hippies of the 1960s and 70s, New Age travelers and political activists, and modern Pagans have all gathered at the summer and winter solstices to hold free music festivals, conduct rituals, hold raves, and simply acknowledge the turning points of the year.

The role of the site is ongoing and has a highly significant place in the practices of contemporary Pagans worldwide, but not just Pagans alone. As well as solstice rites and ongoing archaeological work, Stonehenge is now the focus for a wider new initiative: the Human Henge Project.

Read more

Image result for the guardian

An article about Human Henge featured in The Guardian to celebrate the Winter Solstice.

Hundreds gather for Stonehenge sunrise after winter solstice

by Steven Morris

Some of those attending the winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge were there to worship, others to party or to simply to enjoy the rise of the sun after the longest night and look forward to lengthening days and springtime.

Despite it being a gloomy, soggy morning in Wiltshire, there was a joyful atmosphere as hundreds of people gathered to witness the light return.

There is evidence that spending time near or within the standing stones can actually be good for mental wellbeing.

Read more

Find out more about Human Henge on our website http://humanhenge.org/