Staffordshire Care Farming Development CIC is a community interest company that run the WELLIES Project for adults recovering from poor mental health in the Staffordshire and Derbyshire region on the Midlands. Courses run on specific days of the week for 6 or 12 weeks and include therapeutic activities with animals, plants, creativity and the countryside.
Through the BCF project WELLIES has expanded its courses into a brand new area of woodwork and recycling activities. 40 participants have so far benefitted from learning how to use a wide variety of woodworking tools in the new Wood Shed. They have had Health & Safety training on a variety of machines – lathes, band saws, planes etc. and have worked in teams to craft and create a variety of wooden goods.
Early findings/feedback show that providing activities in this way help people make new friends and reduce social anxiety. They begin to work in teams, learning and growing with each other. This helps them feel valued and increases self-confidence by creating something that they are proud of. It encourages them to take up new enjoyable activities and learn new skills that are useful in everyday life. Many participants now meet up outside of WELLIES to socialise and plan their next woodworking project together.
Nick Platt, Project Manager said:
“This Project has really made a difference to our ability to measure the impact of what we do” he added “we are learning valuable lessons on things we can do and strategies we can develop to reduce loneliness and social isolation.”
Volunteers within the Project report a greater sense of belonging, community and that through helping others they help themselves.
A mid-40s male participant from Tamworth said: “WELLIES gave me hope when I was at my lowest and gave me reason to believe in people again. It’s a warm welcoming safe space, full of wonderful people most of whom have suffered with some sort of mental/physical health problems. When I first came I wasn’t well at all and I had no hope for my future. I can honestly say this project saved my life and gave me hope and reason again. As time has gone by my mental health has improved 10 fold, especially my social anxiety and depression.
“It’s also taught me so much, from arts and crafts to using the woodworking tools and machinery, to socialising again. I deal with a lot of loneliness as I am on my own and WELLIES gives me something to look forward to every week. I hope to give back as much as it’s given to me and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this through volunteering or anything else they want me to do.”