Citizen’s survey-Leeds Digital Thing

I like the term citizen  since it evokes for me, memories of  tales during the French Revolution, when comrades greeted each other as ‘Citizen’, although thankfully times are more peaceful, at least in Leeds, are you willing to be an active citizen, and stand up and be counted?

There are still many uncertainties in the present age which impact on our health, and warrant reassessment, does the digital revolution aid, hinder or reassure us of appropriate health care, as well as ensuring our privacy. Can we as citizens feel part of safeguarding each others rights?

How useful is the digital revolution in addressing these concerns? does data collection threaten our privacy? do we allow ourselves to become commodities when we share our likes and dislikes on various social networking sites or blogs?

That’s a lot of questions! but perhaps they will get people thinking about the power of their voice, ….vote and get involved in the decision making process.

Leeds Digital Festival gives you, as citizens of Leeds, a chance to say how you think information about your health could be better stored and shared.

If you care you can follow Leeds Data Thing on Twitter @#aboutmeleeds  and join in the conversation during the remainder of the festival

Leeds Digital Festival 21-27th October, (a group who focus  on data innovations in Leeds, meet regularly throughout the year.)

if you want to take part in their on-line survey

OR ALTERNATIVELY down load the form and send by post

You might like to follow the blog Co-producing digital mental healthto see how it’s author Victoria Betton, Deputy Director of Partnerships & Innovation at Leeds & York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, answers  the question

‘…why would you care who knows what about you anyway?’


Festival additions: Singing and Resilience

I’m pleased to see that two additions to the Love Arts Festival accommodate the participation of people whose availability might be limited during the Festival, or if they can’t attend at all.

Giving Voice for Peace, October 17


The idea is to get you singing, using your voice

“learning to use song to promote peace in your home,  your life, and in the world”

In recognition of World Mental Health Day, The National Foundation or Giving Voice invites you to participate at a distance (wherever you are!) in Giving Voice for Peace:

You will need to have a phone conversation with Rachel before and after the session, and you will be sent a CD or tape to work with between 7.30 and 8.30pm on 17th October,….. hopefully there is still time to do this ahead of the event.

 Giving Voice say you don’t need to be able to sing – in fact if you think you can’t, you may be at an advantage.

RESILIENCE 21st – 27th October, Leeds Met Broadcasting Place

This week long event, on a subject close to my heart, because of it’s impact on emotional and mental  wellbeing, will explore the topic through art, discussion and food sharing, it is a collaboration with Leeds Met staff and students, the show will explore how we must all be resilient to face life’s challenges. But is it so simple? Go along if you can to one or all sessions, ..see what conclusion you reach and maybe blog a post for us?


Love Arts Festival – The Word Emporium

Love Arts Festival logo

I’m volunteering again with Love Arts, this time at The Word Emporium on Wednesday 16th October.  If anyone is interested, it’s an open-mic night for poetry, being held at Trinity Church on Boar Lane from 6.30pm.

Continue reading

Love Arts Festival – a walk

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As a volunteer with the Love Arts Festival, I took part in the walk around some of the exhibitions on Tuesday 8th October.

We were guided on our walk by Linda Boyles of Arts and Minds, and started with the Highlights exhibit of Arts and Minds members’ work, based in The Light. Continue reading

Shoulder Stories

The Shoulder of Mutton pub on Potternewton Lane had a long and chequered history before it became the Inkwell Arts Centre, and an exhibition currently running there as part of the Love Arts Festival is aiming to give a flavour of those days.


What are the origins of the Shoulder of Mutton and how did a pub named after a slab of meat become the vibrant vegetarian café and arts centre that it is today? This is the question posed by David Mackie in his history of the pub that forms part of the exhibition. The original tavern was built in the 1700s.

‘It is said to have been a pleasant journey from Leeds to Allerton 200 years ago past the small and charming hamlet of Sheepscar with it’s village green’.

Although you did have to watch out for highwaymen apparently, before you get too nostalgic.


There’s lots more fascinating stuff.

‘By the 1770s Chapel Allerton was beginning to play the role of a resort or retreat for the members of the higher classes of Leeds’

– who would have thought that? There’s lots about the more recent history of the pub, including its eventually loss of its licence because of drug offences.

There’s some information about the project at the following blog:

presumably you can leave your memories there – although many people seem to have taken to writing theirs on the walls.

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Inkwell seems to have gone into overdrive at the moment. A glance at their what’s on poster shows a whole range of interesting stuff from life drawing classes, a jazz choir, a ‘secret cinema’, creative writing and lots more, so it’s a very good time to call in for a look at the history of the pub. Particularly good times would seem to be for the Craft Café on Thursday afternoons (cakes, crafts and fun), or the Saturday Café (homemade vegetarian food and delicious cakes – they seem to like their cakes).

The exhibition will run until November 9th.

Twitter: @ShoulderStories

Call: 0113 301 0108


Piece of cake? -10th October

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World Mental Health day, this year has as it’s theme the ‘older person’, in Leeds the advocacy organisation A4MHD have with the help of older people with lived experience of  mental health issues, produced a work of art,  it is a giant 7 tiered cake, …turn up on the 10th October at 1.30pm in Albion Place to see what the cake really looks like, (this is a borrowed internet image), the cake will then be cut and shared with passers by.

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 Most of us know that too many sweet things probably aren’t healthy for us, but on special occasions, a treat, and comfort food.

Making cakes is very satisfying, and an interest in home style baking  is on the increase, a fashion for all things vintage has led to many themed tea rooms, where you can take a trip down memory lane, and eat a bun or two! There is some evidence that the process of baking has  therapeutic outcomes for people with dementia, perhaps it re-awakens those practical things people of a ‘certain age’ learned rote fashion, creamed cake method, …half fat to flour, for short crust pastry, the ‘rubbed in’ method and of course the pleasure of finger licking any remaining mixture in the bowl, icing and eating the finished result.

The extent of the problem of Dementia will also be recognised on the 10th of October, by The Centre for Research in to Reading and the Reader Organisation their statistics indicate there are

“over 800,000 people in the UK live with dementia, and an estimated 670,000 with family and friends acting as primary carers”

they will discuss and consider the power of reading aloud in groups as an aid to improving quality of life for sufferers and carers alike.

World Mental Health Day takes place each year on the 10th October, and can serve as a reminder how extensive mental health problems are,  and yet how it’s often the simple things. like being enabled to  access pleasant memories, or pursuing simple pastimes  such as baking, reading that make the difference to the lives of those affected.


Volunteers and Lay Workers needed to help overcome public health challenges. Professor Jane South.

Last Wednesday I went to a public lecture delivered by  Professor Jane South.

It was advertised on Eventbrite – the online events site.  I’m not averse to the odd public lecture and it sounded relevant – so I thought I’d go.  In fact it was much more than relevant.  It was engaging, inspiring and it followed the lines of a conversation which seems to make sense to me and keeps attracting my attention.

Professor Jane South – Inaugural Lecture – Leeds Metropolitan University

The basic gist of the lecture was to explore the premise that current health challenges cannot be met without engaging the public in Public Health action.  To meet this requirement she envisaged an increase in the use of Volunteers and Lay Workers, such as Peer Support Workers and Lay Health Trainers.  She proposed that this would result in services that work and fit better along with a greater sense of empowerment for the people involved.

Dr Jane South

Jane began her career in Nursing and during this time made an observation which was to inform the direction of her career:  She saw that ‘the Doctor knows best philosophy’ could be dis-empowering. She gave examples of Health Promotion strategies which had failed, as they didn’t quite fit. They had been designed by those who didn’t grasp the full nature of the situation – as they weren’t at the coal face and perhaps had a touch of the Ivory Tower syndrome (check DSM !)

Using Volunteers and Lay Workers -she said, would help secure a greater fit.  She proposed that all parties would benefit – the volunteers, the organisations and the communities. Volunteers may gain in confidence, have improved social contact, a greater sense of empowerment and access to more opportunities. It could provide a greater sense of empowerment for those receiving the services.   She further suggested that involving people in this way may then create a ripple effect to more active citizenship. Her tag line was ‘Think Big, Act Local and Join up.’

Inequality can be dis-empowering for people, which in turn  can result in a reduction of self-esteem.   I believe it’s healthy and really important for us human beings  to have a sense of empowerment.  I guess once upon a time we lived upon the land, in smaller communities, built ourselves shelter and found our own food – a sense of mastery which is difficult to attain today.  I have at times felt very dis-empowered in my own life and have struggled with low self-esteem which in turn has greatly affected my ability to look after myself both physically and emotionally. Working on the blog and being involved in Peer Support at Leeds Mind, both as a participant and as a volunteer,  has helped me to feel much more empowered, it’s given me a voice, a purpose and has helped to increase my sense of belonging.

At the end of Jane’s lecture there was a positive response from the audience, many of whom were professionals and worked in the health and social care/public health sector.  A member of the audience made the point that using Volunteers and Lay Workers wasn’t just a cheaper option but also a better option.

I managed to have a brief word with Jane – as it occurred to me that there was a fine line between the empowerment of unpaid volunteers and the exploitation of them.  She replied that ‘exploitation is something that would have to be carefully guarded against.’   With this final caveat in mind,  I think it’s a really positive thing! What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

Check out #profjanesouth for comments about this lecture from Twitter.

Jane is the Professor of Healthy Communities in the institute of Health and Wellbeing at Leeds Metropolitan University. She is the Director of the Centre for Health Promotion Research in faculty of Health & Social Sciences.

Love Arts 2013 launched!

Love Arts poster

You could hardly move for survivor artists, wandering poets, volunteers, photographers, cake makers, community reporters and the great and the good of the local mental health scene. Love Arts, the three week long festival that seeks to get people thinking and talking about mental health is back in town, after two successful years in previous Autumns. Yesterday saw the festival launch, with an art exhibition, ‘Highlights’, from the Leeds Arts & Minds Network, which will be showing at the Light until Sunday 13 October.  Even more than in previous years I was struck by the enormous variety of artwork on display, and how good some of it is – certainly worth a special trip out of your way to see.

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Time to Change Leeds has been spearheading the assault on stigma and discrimination in our wicked city, and they were busy waylaying passers by and getting pledges.

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You had to accept cookies in order to fully participate, and some  were decorated with wild abandon, throwing caution and calorie counting to the wind and laughing in the face of healthy eating programmes.


There are literally dozens of things going on in the city over the next three weeks – you can see the full programme at the Love Arts Festival website. Some of the stand out things for me are:

The Love Music Leeds album launch on Friday 11 October at All Hallows Church, Regent Terrace, Leeds 6, 7.45 – 11 p.m. costing £7.50. This features local musicians exploring the connections between music and mental wellbeing through songs nominated because they’ve been found helpful, inspiring or comforting.

The Word Emporium at Trinity Church on Boar Lane on Wednesday 16 October, 6.30 – 9.15, will be a night of spoken word and music where you can earn the prestigious title of Love Arts Festival Word Champion for performing a couple of pieces in the open mic – or just come along and watch for £2/£3.

Unheard Voices is a free exhibition about the people who lived, visited and worked at High Royds Hospital, the old Victorian asylum. This launches on Monday 7 October , 5 – 7 p.m. in Leeds Central Library, and will be open during normal library opening hours after that.


Whatever your taste in arts there’s probably something at the festival you can enjoy. A lot of the things are free or cheap, and they run during the day-time as well as in the evenings. Check it out.


Wildflowers in unexpected places

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If anyone travels down King Lane, near the park and ride just off the ring road, you might have noticed an area of wildflowers that has sprung up on the grassy areas at the side of the road.

I first saw it in 2012, and determined to get some photos, which I failed to do.  This year I had no excuse, so armed with my Leeds Wellbeing Web camera, I snapped some close-ups of the blooms, some of which I’ve added here.

I’ve noticed on occasion that the site is visited by people with clipboards.  Is it a study? Is it something to do with Moortown Community Group?  Was is the council’s idea?  I don’t know, but I love it!  My photos were snapped a few weeks ago, and recently it had been looking bedraggled. However, the recent un-autumnlike temperatures seem to have revived it, and I noticed some new flowers this week.

I think it might be good for a bit longer, but who knows what the weather will bring now October is here.  So if you want to see it yourself, it’s near the Moor Allerton District Centre (51 or 52 bus from the city centre) or you pass it on the 7 or 7A bus, also from town.

I love seeing nature at work in unexpected places, and this wildflower area makes me smile.  Whoever created it, I thank you!



It’s this time of the year again.  Love Arts Festival Leeds is here.

The Festival launch takes place between 4pm and 6pm on Wednesday 2nd October 2013 and will be within the Light, on the Headrow..

 Come along and enjoy the exhibitions and learn about the Festival’s fortnight of festivities.  Love Arts goodies and refreshments will be available courtesy of Radisson Blue and Sainsbury’s.