In Green

  A couple of months ago (had no internet for a few weeks due to a technical glitch) I did a very enjoyable workshop at Clarence House called Feeling Good  With colour.  It was about using colour  to improve our mood.  We did a visualisation  where we imagined sitting under a giant flower and golden sunshine pouring on to us,  discussed a poem about colour in nature, colour associations, discussed colour therapy, colour harmony, and how colours are used in different cultures.  We also went into the garden and each wrote a poem about what were experiencing.  This is the poem.

                                   IN GREEN


In green


Indigo flowers

Sat in middle.

Circle of bird conversation.

Trees smooth out                                                                       treespirit-greenwood-tree-primavera-500

Blunt sunshine

Cool breeze

Pats the back

Of golden heat

Calms the whirling

Brain chatter.

Buttercup open

Like greeting hand.

(image from

Leeds Mind Peer Support Conference 6th June #peer14

The fantastic Peer Support team at Leeds Mind are presenting a free Peer Support Conference on Friday 6th June. Could your organisation benefit from using Peer Support ? Do you want to network with other organisations involved in Peer Support?

– tickets are free but need to be booked here via Eventbrite.  There are limited spaces so do book quickly!

The twitter hashtag for the event is #peer14


peer support flyer web

Clandestine Cake Club #somewhereovertherainbow: Mental Health and Wellbeing day

#SomewhereOverTheRainbow  is a special cake club event for people who struggle with their Mental Health and Wellbeing every day.

This will be held in the centre of Leeds on Sunday 6 July 2014 from 2-4pm

 We want to share the happiness that we get from attending cake club.

Rainbow small size

(Rainbow photograph by Evan Leeson, Flickr: Creative Commons)

The idea of this event isn’t the same as our usual Clandestine Cake Club events… it’s to try encourage people to come along and see if tea and cake and meeting people with similar problems can help their Mental Health and Wellbeing.

There really is something special about baking… it’s a therapeutic hobby, the weighing of ingredients and then patiently waiting for the cake to bake, I find it a good way to relax and de-stress after a busy day at work.  The good thing about this event is that if you aren’t able to bake then book yourself in with a friend who can do the baking… that way you get to come along to cake club, bring a friend or relative to support you and they’ll bring the cake!

The event has been arranged following twitter conversations about Mental Health and Wellbeing. We have launched this event solely for people with or recovering from Mental Health problems. 

For some people just getting up in the morning is a real challenge mentally. For others life is a real struggle to cope every day. These are the people we are reaching out to. Hopefully we can reach out to people on twitter too so if you talk about the event please use the hashtag #SomewhereOverTheRainbow

This isn’t a charity fundraising event, we’re not linked to a charity, it’s just something special where we hope people will have a few hours of fun over Tea and Cake and generally help with their/your wellbeing by baking a cake and perhaps coming along with a carer/best supportive friend.

I’ll be taking all the bookings and will sent out email confirmations in due course. The event is at a secret location in the centre of Leeds and the venue will be announced to the people attending about a week before the event.

If this is a success and over subscribed, we may look to do this again at a much larger venue, but we wanted to create a more intimate event in a smaller venue to start with.

Places are limited so please don’t miss out, follow the instructions on the link and book in asap.

All the details are here at Clandestine Cake Club – somewhere over the rainbow,  if you would like to come along or know someone who you think would then please either use this link or send it to the person to book a place.  This might be yourself, a friend, relative or even a client you see who you think might enjoy this event.

If we have bright and colourful cakes attending the event we will definitely brighten up the venue and our day!

King regards

Sharon Clarkson
Pudsey & West Leeds Clandestine Cake Club
@PudseyCCC on Twitter

Time to Change Experience coming to Leeds

Volition is one of the partners in an exciting project to bring the “Time to Change Experience” to Leeds. The new Time to Change campaign will show the small, everyday things you can do for those you care about – whether that’s a chat over a cuppa, sending a text, or giving someone a call to catch up and ask them how they are. Look out for the new TV advert on ITV, Channel 4, Five, Sky, and on catch up TV.

Along with the Time to Change Leeds team, Leeds & York Partnership Foundation Trust, Leeds City Council, Leeds Mind, Touchstone and others, Volition are working with the national Time to Change campaign team on a public engagement event at the White Rose Centre on Saturday 8th February. They are looking for volunteers, so please pass this information on to people you know who might be interested…

Would you be willing to talk about your personal experiences of mental health problems to help break down stigma? Do you live in or near Leeds?


What would it mean to volunteer? Well apparently Volunteer Co-ordinators will be there to support you throughout, and you’ll get the chance to attend a free training session, with a choice of time and locations in Leeds before the event. The face to face training includes role play and films to help you speak confidently to people “and have lots of fun!” Travel expenses will be paid and a fee of £15.

According to Volition,

“the Time to Change Experience is a ‘pop-up’ space where people can learn the truth about mental health in an engaging and fun way. Time to Change volunteers will challenge stereotypes of mental ill health by talking to the public about their lived experiences of mental health problems. This is the flagship community engagement event being organised in conjunction with Time to Talk Day which takes place across the country.”

To find out more about volunteering at this event, including what to expect, training, and how to apply, go to the Time to Change website, download the poster (pdf 350KB) or contact Gill Crawshaw at Volition. Tel.0113 2421321.

A letter from ‘Love Your Liver’

We get lots of interesting e-mail at Leeds Wellbeing Web, and this one seemed worth passing on, particularly with the season being what it is. I followed their links and did the ‘liver health checker test’ – it seems my diet may contain too many foods/drinks that are high in fat and/or sugar, and I was advised to find an activity like dancing, brisk walking or swimming. Apparently typing doesn’t count. Anyway, they are looking for people to get involved, and will be coming to Morrison’s in Hunslet on the 16th January. here’s the full text of the letter:

White Ribbon Day: 25th November

Barry Ewart recently wrote on Leeds Wellbeing Web about Leeds Men’s Health Network. He sent us a follow up about the 16 days of action around the “White Ribbon” campaigh which highlights issues around domestic abuse. Barry writes:


Leeds Men’s Health Network (LMHN) is supporting this year’s White Ribbon Campaign and its 16 days of action around 25/11/13.  The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) aims to get men to address issues of domestic violence against women.  See

  • In Leeds we will have a WRC city-centre walk on Monday the 25th of November which will leave the WRC Tree in Park Square at 11.00 am and will finish at Leeds Metropolitan University, City Campus, Leeds LS2 at 11.45 am and we have invited Chris Chittell from Emmerdale Farm to join us on the walk.  At 12.00 in Room PD210 (for those who wish to stay) there will be a talk hosted by The National Centre for Men’s Health on, ‘Men in Sheds – valuing the human potential of older men’ by Will Gore from The Groundwork Trust.
  • LMHN is also encouraging children’s centres, schools, libraries and voluntary groups in the city to do something for the action days and this could be simply wrapping a tree with white ribbons.
  1. LMHN recognises that most domestic violence is by men against women and needs addressing.
  2. LMHN also recognises that domestic violence against men is a problem that needs addressing.
  3. LMHN further recognises that domestic violence is also an issue in same sex partnerships and this too also needs addressing.
  4. LMHN believes that we should have a zero tolerance of all forms of domestic abuse whoever is the perpetrator.

Since domestic violence homicide reviews were introduced two years ago they have shown that eleven women were killed in Leeds alone.


  • Female victims – Leeds Domestic Violence Helpline 0113 246 0401
  • Same Sex Partnerships – Broken Rainbow 0300 999 5428
  • Male victims – Men’s Advice Line   0808 801 0327
  • Respect Helpline for Perpetrators 0808 802 4040

Leeds Men’s Health Network Contacts:

Chair:  Claude Hendrickson E Mail: Tel. 07831 480 196 (Mobile) 0113 262 2270 (Office)

Secretary:  Barry Ewart E Mail: Tel. 0113 343 4358 (Office)

Treasurer:  Richard Lancaster E Mail: Tel. 07931 659 434 (Mobile) 0113 276 2720 (Office)

Chat and Create Art Group, Swarthmore Adult Education Centre

Chat and Create runs term-time 4-6pm @ The Swarthmore Adult Education Centre Café. I was asked by Terry – our Tez to his friends – to write a blog/report on it.

Swarthmore is a centre for lifelong learning, community projects and family learning sessions as well as the courses and activities advertised in this brochure. Our main aim is to encourage people who want to learn but might not feel comfortable in more formal educational institutions. We work on a friendly, human scale, offering a confidential counseling service, on-site childcare and learning support. Many volunteers currently support the Centre’s work and we welcome their contributions of time and energy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chat N’ Create’s name was brainstormed by Sue, who took over the group when it was known under a different name and I like the name. Chat N’ Create is based in this community, grass roots, equal opportunities ethic firmly indeed, however it is not oppressive and controlled, but free light-hearted and creative. Chat N’ Create is open to everyone.

Sue Bowden’s surname means ”a little tree in the corner of the field”. However Sue is no little tree, but a nurturing community artist of others artistic and health-potential. Highly appropriate, given she was helping herself, and 2 other group members, Judy and Lisa to re-create, among the encouraging chat, the Swarthmore’s logo of a community tree. By the way, ‘Swarthmore’ means – black moor.

The Swarthmore tree signature symbol is on the front cover of their booklet of courses you can order, or pop in to pick one up better still. It’s also on Swarthmore’s building and dotted about inside. It’s a large beech-shaped tree with a trunk, a few brown branches and lots of different coloured hands instead of leaves,. It is round and cuddly. Swarthmore’s motto is ”friendly learning” and I could see that manifested in Sue’s encouragement. She says the group is for everyone, so do please come along; it is for everyone to take the opportunity to participate in creating art for the community, and ourselves. The group is held downstairs, so accessibility for wheelchair users and walking stick users is good. It does not matter your class, race dis/ability, gender, sexuality, race, religion, nationality etc., Chat N’ Create welcomes you all. Everyone deserves the opportunity of community arts; I joined in to better write this article, but I was intending to participate anyway, because I am environ-mentally mad about preserving the natural world (see previous Environ-mental Gardening blog by ‘Mad’ (true individual) Milan – that’s me!).

Sue Bowden deliberately salvages materials – waste recyclables, paper, card, aluminium cans to save costs no doubt, but also to preserve the world’s life. I asked Sue to respond to my request to slow down, no blame or hurt intended. I said this to benefit everyone, the participants: Lisa and Judy, Sue, as participant – facilitator herself and me, because the ability to respond is emotional intelligence and nurturing, something we need from the arts. She responded well, and to take the pressure off her, I said could I join in – that’s what it’s all about come – unity, ‘community’.

I also had to say at the beginning I am half deaf and Sue asked me immediately which ear is worst, and adjusted her position on speaking in my favour, so deaf community you are welcome. Taking time and trouble, asking the right questions is demonstrated by Chat N’ Create as good practice. The method of making the Swarthmore hand-tree on a background of sky blue plastic was fascinating. The hands were made from old discarded aluminium (why do I think of my schoolmates singing aluminium to the tune of a fast repeated hallelujah!?) cans, top and tailed, and flattened out, so the inside silvery bare metal could then be painted with glass glue of differing colours. I have to say there were so many different hands and colours and designs; some Gothically dark, one with the texture of a centipede, with segments, others painted in bright colours by children, or big kids (adults; yes everyone wants to have fun).Some of the hand-leaves were made by drawing hand templates from people’s hands at the Woodhouse Unity Festival in July, by placing them on cardboard and cutting them out. Then hand shapes of silvery, polished aluminium metal were made from them, painted with coloured glass paint, according to people’s designs and tastes as individuals. I related to Sue that was part of the idea of community arts, the groups strength is in imagination bigger and better, more creative than any individual, and she agreed.

To see the Swarthmore Tree emerging was exciting, with so many different colours, and designs of hands as leaves. I could feel the pressure lift off us. We then began to use more ALU/minium insides flattened sheets of salvaged cans. Swarthmore has recycling boxes for aluminium, paper, card & plastic bottles all around the building. These were used as rectangular patches to staple on to the paper template of the tree trunk. So the trunk became silvery like moonlight. The whole 6 foot by 6 foot picture or hanging of the Swarthmore tree will be displayed on a notice board in the coffee bar when complete. It can also be taken into the hall for gigs, AGMs and other Swarthmore events, as it could be folded into half size by a piano hinge.

It was good to see practical common sense not airy-fairy daftness. Further, health and safety was taken care of with advice to be careful when handling and cutting ALU metal sheet. I asked Lisa how long she had been coming to the group, about 6 weeks she replied.

”And what have you got out of it?” ”Company, creativity, and pleasure”

So that’s it folks, it’s not ‘high’ art or ‘low’ art – it is for you, accessible and friendly. Open to humour as well as good equality practices. Why not try it? It could be just the group for you to better your mental health and well-being, to talk with like-minded, and different souls, to create art according to your taste, and the groups. As a tribute to Chat N’ Create here’s a poem: –

“Come, Chat N ‘ Create. Come to Chat N ‘ Create, and have a great time; come, create N ‘ Chat Its down at t’ Swarthmore in t’ centre of town, near St Georges Crypt. You don’t need a script, just a wish to create art, paint pictures, use scissors, cut, make a collage. No need to camouflage your wants and needs, aspirations about art, its v relaxed there is time a whole 2 hours, discover your powers to ‘artify’ yourself, and others. Find brothers and sisters in arts and community, in the tree of life, and art. For thou art beautiful – like every soul, so don’t be a miserable mole hiding and grumping; if it’s good for your mood to uplift, and mental health, or might be come along then, bring Ben and Sue, Helen too; all your friends. Pass round a Chat and Create flyer. Please let everyone know. The art door is open, the Art Café at Swarthmore is open, I know I’ve been going there 33 years. If Art takes your taste or fancy, then give yourself a chance, try it and see. Discover the playful child painter in you; create without too much thinking, linking with people just like you. If environ-mental: recycled reused repaired reduced ‘waste’ art is your style you’ll bring a smile to me, and Sue too, so don’t be blue or anxious; if your mood is already good, then drop by soon. Be part of community, arts community, community arts, the tree of life and community, arts could integrate emotions and thoughts. It might be the group for you. Refreshments are to hand and of healthy diet, though you have to pay. Come out and play!”

Once the tree is finished Chat and Create sessions will be focused on making something different each week from re used materials. Come and join in!

I enjoyed meeting the people in Chat N’ Create, and hope you will too. For a Swarthmore brochure ”Courses and Activities September 2013 – July 2014, contact Telephone 0113 243 2210, or write to 2-7 Woodhouse Square Leeds LS3 1AD.

Hope for Progress on Men’s Health in Leeds

Barry Ewart co-ordinates the Leeds Men’s Health Network (LMHN), and agreed to do us a guest blog about the work they do. He says:

Potentially exciting times for Leeds Men’s Health Network (LMHN) as we have just got Leeds City Council’s Scrutiny Committee to agree to examine men’s health as part of their investigation into, ‘Narrowing the Gap’ in the city.  We are also working with Public Health and one of their officers now attends our meetings.

Members of the 'Wild Bunch' ecotherapy and philosophy group

Members of the ‘Wild Bunch’ ecotherapy and philosophy group

If you want general information on men’s health then the National Men’s Health Forum website is very useful see   In Leeds we are also lucky that Leeds Met. University hosts The National Centre for Men’s Health and this is led by Professor of Men’s Health, Alan White and a small team of researchers see

Some further good news for LMHN is that we have just acquired a New Chair in Claude Hendrickson from the Race Card Project based at Leeds West Indian Centre and we are to now have Executive Committee meetings of the officers in between our quarterly meetings of the Network.  We also hope to have guest speakers at future meetings to cover topics such as ‘Men and Gambling’, ‘Homelessness and Men’ (hopefully with someone from The Big Issue) plus someone from one of the Clinical Commissioning Groups in Leeds so that we can hear how they may be commissioning services for men in Leeds, and as always we are open to ideas for topics from members.

We are currently planning for The White Ribbon Campaign 16 days of action around the 25th of November 2013 (this aims to get men to address issues of domestic violence by men) and we hope to have a city centre walk starting from the White Ribbon Tree in Park Square.  We further hope to have a celebrity from Emmerdale Farm joining us on the walk and there may also be a seminar on men’s health at the Centre for Men’s Health, Queen Square, following the walk.  We will as usual also be encouraging voluntary groups to do something around The White Ribbon days of action and we hope to get schools, libraries and children’s centres to do something such as wrapping a tree with white ribbons which they have done in previous years.   We hope to finalise our plans very soon and for further information on The White Ribbon Campaign see

Also for anyone interested, ‘Leeds Let’s Get Active’ has just been launched and this is aimed at people who may not do any physical activity and there is free use of Leeds City Council leisure centres during selected activities.  See or e mail:

Finally our next meeting of the Network is on Wednesday the 4th of December, 2.00pm at Leeds Civic Hall and anyone interested in men’s health is welcome to attend.  You can also join Leeds Men’s Health Network which is free by just e mailing me at:

With best wishes, Barry Ewart, Secretary, Leeds Men’s Health Network.

Spotting the signs

hatterMost people enjoy a cuppa and tea parties hold a special appeal for many, the ritual of making it, the paraphernalia that some insist upon, a damask tablecloth, cake stand, teapot and knitted ‘cosy’ ‘real’ china , a favourite mug….I remember a valued friend who wherever  possible preferred using loose leaf tea and a strainer for his brews,  it did seem to add some extra magic to a ceremony which universally serves as both refreshment and therapy, but imagine how it would be if we were unable, because of sight impairment to appreciate it’s  visual charm, or indeed to easily make that cuppa , I was surprised to learn, that yearly in UK approximately 23,000 people lose their vision and current cuts to services and benefits,will see many of these people lose as much as 5 hours support a week, this may have the biggest impact on their ability to engage in the simple social events most sighted people take for granted, going to a cafe or a friends home for a cuppa, the implications  to their emotional wellbeing  are obvious.

The eyes are  the only transparent part of our body, a window on our general health, having regular eye tests enables the optician to detect early signs of not only  eye problems which might lead to  significant sight loss but early indications of other potential health risks.

The Yorkshire Action for Blind People will be holding a Readathon on the 11th October, as part of  the Read for RNIB’s  national campaign, themed on the ‘mad’ tea party, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,  the aim, to raise funds to provide vital services, it will take place on the concourse of Leeds Rail station between 8am and 6pm, volunteers will be reading aloud  excerpts from Lewis Carrol’s ‘Alices Adventures in Wonderland’ to commuters, there will be an information stand, texts will be available in different size formats and for kindles, I plan to be there on the look out for the white rabbit!

The Leeds Vision Consortium is a collaboration between  Action for Blind People, The Wilberforce Trust and Leeds City Council.

Local contacts for the campaign and wellbeing promotion workers are, respectively Rachel Moore 0113 3862888 and Sherieda Joseph, 07720 946342


In researching more about what’s commonly  referred to as the mad Hatters party, I discovered  that the author of  Alice’s Adventures, Lewis Carrol, did not use that  term with sole reference to the Hatter’s character, more with reference to the  bizarre  repetition of the eternal 6pm teatime proceedings,  although the whole story and characters might be considered somewhat …zany? the party  story poses some impossible riddles, as a child I found Alice’s Adventures  too foreboding, but now as a grown up ‘kid’ I appreciate it’s nonsensical dark tale and it’s back on my to read pile.

Carers Week 2013

WHO TAKES CARE OF THE CARERS? WE ALL CAN! but reading groups could be an interesting project for aiding their wellbeing in Leeds

The Reader Online

Carers-Week-2013-logo1This week (10th-16th June) is Carers Week 2013, a UK-wide annual campaign that has the aim of raising the profile of carers, recognising and celebrating the contribution of the nation’s 6.5 million carers to the people they care for, their communities and society, and helping the public to identify themselves as carers, accessing the support they need.

Carers are amongst our hundreds of readers enjoying Get Into Reading groups across the UK each week. Sharing reading with others offers carers the chance to relax, take a break and enjoy some much needed time for themselves, with the company of others. Benefits of our Get Into Reading groups include reduced social isolation, stability and support, and increased personal confidence, all of which are of significant value to the lives of carers.

As well as being able to come along to our open community groups, we currently run a number of groups…

View original post 521 more words