Volunteers meeting #1 – the main points

Thursday night saw the first Making Minds volunteers meeting take place. It was held at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff and attended by about 20 people.

After an initial ‘people bingo’ icebreaker, we got down to business.

Mark Smith, who has developed the Making Minds idea over the last eight months, delivered a Prezi presentation that looked at the story so far, along with details of how people can get involved and what needs to be done to help establish Making Minds as a social enterprise.

A series of guest speakers addressed the meeting, including Jacqui Rafferty of Cardiff-based mental health charity ‘Journeys Towards Recovery From Depression’, Jane Wycherley who was formerly head of the Mental Health Foundation in Wales, Kevin Jakeway of mental health arts organisation ‘Inside Out Cymru’ and Heidi Everett, who joined the meeting from Australia, on Skype. Heidi, originally from Abergavenny, runs a ‘music for mental health’ group in Melbourne.

Here are some of the key points and questions from the meeting:

– The business plan will continue to be developed, with priority given to market research (the business case / argument for Making Minds) and services.
– Charity status to remain an option, but social enterprise preferred.
– Need to consider how to manage demand, if drop-in self-referral is allowed.
– There will be a conflict of interest if you’re on the steering group / board and seeking to be a paid facilitator.
– Look into the work of the ‘Link Centre’ in Cardiff.
– Is there a need for some sort of directory or map, showing activities, groups and services that people can access?
– Scope of delivery could be much wider than people with a mental health problem. General public wellbeing, substance abuse / addiction services and homeless people could all be supported.
– Community delivery, as part of Mental Health Measure, appears vital.
– Making Minds approach helped by being set up by people with mental health problems and with a clear social purpose.
– Making Minds to put people / artists / participants at centre of plans. Open and democratic approach.
– Experience shows that you need to be as accessible as possible, partly due to the stigma that surrounds mental ill health. Not everyone sees themselves as having a problem, a label or diagnosis, but would just like to get involved.
– Important to capture people’s stories / qualitative outcomes, as much as the hard figures.
– While there is a need for Making Minds marketing materials, it appears that social media is doing a good job at the moment. Community media should be approached and ‘free’ press.
– One key piece of advice ‘be true to yourself at all times, when developing Making Minds’. ‘Don’t be affected by the views of others – do it from the heart’.
– Important that facilitators, volunteers are paid at every opportunity.

The next meeting will be held in the near future – more details online when available. It’s clear we have a great group of people to work with and some key issues and tasks to work on.

As someone said to us after the meeting ‘the doors are open now….there are too many people interested, wanting to get involved, to go back now’. What a great position to be in. Thank you.

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