Lasting Essence – an exhibition at the Arch Cafe

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I have a print of one of Peter Shillito’s paintings in my front room. It’s a bright, complex, abstract design that people often comment on, and the colours in particular (strong blues, greens, purple) are very beautiful. Peter is a genuine mystic, whose poems and artwork form a whole – two different ways of pointing toward the same truth.

His exhibition ‘Lasting Essence’ is currently showing at the Arch Café, (just off Dortmund Square, round the corner from the St. John’s Centre). As well as about 20 of his paintings, there is a book of poetry with the same title, which has images of some of the paintings in it. It’s a lovely little collection. The title poem ‘written soon after a mental illness had torn my world apart’, sets the tone:

Little Tree

A small tree may grow

Its branches reaching out

like the arms of a child

Touching a golden sun

Its leaves whisper

and flutter free

Like a dove on a wing,

out into Eternity.

The theme of finding light out of mental darkness, and discovering that ‘breakdown’ can lead to ‘breaking through’, is a theme that runs through Peter’s writing. It made me think of another English poet/painter mystic, William Blake:

“What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for a song? Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price

Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy”

Peter is a member of the Living Artists Movement, the group Ushawant Kaur began, which printed his book. He’s also a regular member of the Scattered Leaves group, where practising artists and writers share their work every first Tuesday evening at the Civic Hall. The Lasting Essence exhibition will run until the 18th of August.

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A Mental Health Information telephone line for Leeds? A recent focus group.

A few weeks ago I attended a Research Focus Group which had the aim of establishing  whether a Mental Health Information telephone line could benefit the people of Leeds.

We met in the head office of Age UK which is in a fantastic listed building.  It also houses the lovely Arch Cafe which is described as a ‘Cafe with a Conscience. ‘  All profits go to support Age UK’s work with older people. It is a great place to go for coffee and cake!

The research room had a positive feel and was fresh and bright.  I couldn’t help but compare this favorably to institutional or clinical environments, which are often the type used for mental health services.  But this is just an aside.

Back to the Focus Group….

It was a stimulating experience and I felt valued to be part of this research.  Members included Health Professionals, members of the public and those (including myself) who had personal experience of using mental health services within Leeds.

The group took the format of a discussion.  It was friendly and insightful.  We shared many of the same views.    A consensus soon emerged that we all thought an Information Line would be an asset and a worthwhile investment in Leeds.   However many questions and concerns followed this.

The information line would not be a Support Line, would it naturally turn into one? This then led to a discussion about the lack of places to go or call when in crisis. Who would run such a line?  We thought that the person should be empathetic and have either personal experience of mental health issues, or experience through caring for a  relative or have worked in this area.  It was important to the group that the telephone line must not be harmful to the person in any way, as all intervention counts and can impact the well-being of a vulnerable person. We expressed  the desire that the person must have an appropriate sensitivity when dealing with callers, that they are aware and that they ‘get it.’

Who would run this line? The NHS? The Local Authority?  A Third Sector organisation?  Most people seemed to think the latter!

Would the telephone line be backed up by social media, text, a website?  …

And the discussion went on…

It will be interesting to find out the outcome. Will Leeds eventually have an info line for Mental Health and if so what information will this provide?

Watch this space…

The research was conducted on behalf of Volition by StopHateUK.

Thanks for reading,

Vicky 🙂