Photos : Stars and Stitches supports people to live their lives to their full potential through community arts , sport and environmental activities ; Sow the City , based in Moss Side , works to empower communities to grow and live more sustainability .
community support projects , and people who have directly benefited stood up and told their stories . It was inspirational to hear about the grassroots activity taking place , and the huge impact this is having . Here are just a few of the case studies that were shared :
STARS AND STITCHES
Stars and Stitches is a community interest company based in Bolton , run by trainee therapists , and supporting people to live their lives to their full potential and overcome their difficulties through community arts , sport and environmental activities . Through funding provided via the asset fund , Stars and Stitches ran several projects for people recovering from addictions . Projects included :
• A fashion show – featuring headdresses made by the group from recycled materials , and Bollywood dancing – which was filmed and exhibited at the P5 Gallery at Bolton station .
• Wellbeing sessions involving activities such as needle felting and ‘ junk journaling ’, a process of creating a personal journal from recycled and creative materials .
• Creative art sessions at Honeysuckle Lodge , a women ’ s mental health inpatient unit .
One participant said , ‘ At my very first session I was really nervous , but everyone was so friendly . It made me feel seen to meet people with similar experiences as me . I am really proud of myself – my headdress turned out amazing . I really liked the dancing and getting to see everyone on the final day .’
THOSE ON THE MARGINS OF SOCIETY ( THOMAS )
THOMAS delivers a range of recovery-focused services which take people from within prison or hospital , through detox and residential rehabilitation , into community-based support . Susan * was referred to THOMAS via the Achieve partnership . At the time , she had a 13-year history of harmful alcohol use . She had a reluctance to engage with support offered and had withdrawn in the past . THOMAS admitted her to their residential rehabilitation accommodation . There , a structured timetable of groups and activities created a therapeutic community where Susan could work with herself and others on her recovery .
After some initial reluctance , Susan began to grow in confidence to voice her opinions , challenging herself and others . This enabled her to see the benefit of having supportive relationships . She developed new , fulfilling hobbies , such as baking and art , and she developed coping strategies and
new behaviours to support her in all aspects of her life .
Susan ’ s husband received carer support from Achieve , and together they discussed her ongoing needs following discharge . Her relationships with her sons also improved . Susan reported that living at THOMAS broke down the stigma of addiction for her . She was able to develop a strong support system that enabled her to continue on in her recovery .
She has now taken on a peer mentor role at THOMAS , offering support and guidance to others with similar experiences . She is positive about her future , and plans to continue to live a fulfilling life practicing abstinence .
* Name has been changed to protect anonymity .
SOW THE CITY
Sow the City is a social enterprise , based in Moss Side , Manchester . It works across Greater Manchester
Karl was one service user who took part in the Sow the City project : ‘ I ’ ve always enjoyed plants but never thought I ’ d feel the pride that I have in growing food . Previously people would have laughed at me for engaging in something like this but I don ’ t care because being involved in the project has given me a real peace for myself in respect to emotions .’
to empower communities to grow and live more sustainability .
In 2022 , it received funding to develop the gardens of two THOMAS sites . The benefits of nature are well known , and include improved mood , reduced anxiety , improved sleep quality , better cognitive performance , and increased energy .
Throughout the project , Sow the City ran therapeutic gardening sessions with residents , teaching them to grow their own food and improve their horticultural knowledge and skills . Residents worked together on the gardens – which are now a pleasant area to tend , relax and socialise – and some have gone on volunteer at other Sow the City community gardening projects across the region .
Dr Jonathan Dewhurst is consultant addiction psychiatrist at Achieve Recovery Services , Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust .
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