Friends, funds, blogs and an ATTIC

Hello.

The fact that I’m writing this blog post on Valentine’s evening is merely incidental. Love shows itself in a multitude of ways. After a brief spell of ill health a month or two ago, I’m reconnecting with things that I love…things that meant nothing when I was unwell.

Feeling better has enabled me to recommence work on Making Minds. Our first funding bid is about to go in and we have a project team on board. For me, they are two key developments that I’m pleased to have been able to achieve this early in 2013. I am incredibly grateful to those involved at this stage. Next, I hope will follow an informal gathering of people who have expressed an interest in volunteering for Making Minds in various capacities. If you are interested in attending – it’s likely to be in Cardiff in the next couple of months – let me know. This will precede any formal events, that we will be able to put on if the initial funding bid is successful. They will act as networking and scoping events, bringing together a cross section of people to establish the level of appetite for the ideas that we have and the potential to develop services, events, experiences, networks and other activities that will help to promote the role of art and creativity, as it relates to mental health, in a new way in South Wales.

Bit by bit, we are getting more support and that is so crucial when there is currently so little time available to us to work on Making Minds….that will come. I should say, that when I say ‘we’ or ‘us’ I mean Making Minds as there are now a number of people involved. When I say ‘I’ or ‘me’, I mean myself…Mark Smith. Sorry to confuse, but it’s been difficult to separate the two identities at times. I’m making new friends by working on Making Minds. Most are people with an admirable approach to life and a willingness to help, without really knowing me, my background and my aims for this project. That’s quite humbling and has renewed my faith, at a time when others have failed to live up to expectations.

I’m also getting more involved in the Time to Change Wales campaign. I’ve taken on the role of official blog champion for the campaign that is tackling mental health stigma and discrimination in Wales. So, if you have an idea for something that you’d like to write, on a mental health theme, let me know. I’m here to help you tell whatever story or opinion you have.

While I have numerous contacts in mental health, business support and the Welsh voluntary sector, I’m less engaged in the arts sector. However, I’m playing catch up at a rate of knots and have Sara Annwyl and Julia Thomas of the Cardiff ATTIC project, to thank for an insight into the world of art, scientific research and mental illness. They are working together on the project, that is based in the attic space of mental health charity Journeys Toward Recovery from Depression. I attended the recent launch of ATTIC’s ‘Rapid Cycling’ programme, which will see a number of artists exhibiting work, giving talks and exploring themes around mental health, illness and others, with art as a vehicle for dialogue and exploration. I hope to be giving a talk during the Rapid Cycling season, on how music has been a constant throughout my experience of mental illness, both in good times and bad.

The ATTIC experience has been just one of a number in recent weeks, where young and proactive people are rolling their sleeves up and showing to the world, what it is about art and creativity (in all its forms) that has a bearing on mental health, understanding, social good and inclusion.

For me, this is incredibly heartening.

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