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The Time to Change Village visited Norwich on Saturday the 1st September outside the Forum in Norwich. The event was a huge success and it was estimated that over 2,000 people engaged in a conversation about Mental Health during the event. The Time to Change campaign is about challenging the stigma and discrimination associated with Mental Health through engagement and talking with the public. The event was organised by Oz Osborne and Sarah James who both work for Time to Change. I thought they both did a fantastic job in organising such a successful event. There is so much work which goes into organising these events which often go unnoticed, they both worked extremely hard.
Quote from Oz Osborne ‘The Village is a ‘pop-up’ community engagement activity, which creates interactive spaces for volunteers with lived experience of mental health problems to engage with the public. Each of these ‘social contacts’ are designed to facilitate positive changes in attitudes and behaviours towards people with mental health problems.’
The village includes a Cinema showing Time to Change Films, a Post Office where you can post a postcard to a friend, a Tea Room where you can get free Teas and Coffees, a Surgery offering lots of information about Mental Health and organisations, a library – The Human Library where books are people and when you borrow a book to read, the book is a person who you have a conversation with. It also has a Village Green and Newsagent. There were many activities at the event where people could learn more about the Time to Change Campaign and interact and have conversations about Mental Health. These included Face Painting, Painting and Drawing, Singing/Musicians, Making a Bracelet, Plant Potting and Photo Pledging for Time to Change.
The Village also had some Street Theatre from the Chalk Circle Theatre Company. Quote from Suzanna Coppolina Company Director ‘Chalk Circle is a newly established professional theatre company working in collaboration with local and international theatre practitioners. Our aim is to create contemporary, innovative, challenging and cutting-edge theatre in Norwich and the surrounding area. This year we will be producing 4.48 Psychosis written by playwright Sarah Kane. Sarah Kane is one of the most powerful and controversial playwrights of our time and her plays have been widely performed in Europe and South America. We, at The Chalk Circle Theatre Company would like to support and raise awareness of mental health and aim to host panel discussions, rehearsed readings, art exhibits and workshops based around the subject matter within the play.’
There were around 70 volunteers who helped at the event who were people with lived experience or carers. Time to Change also employed some co-ordinators for the event so I was thrilled to be asked to be a Time to Change Co-ordinator for the day. I would like to thank Time to Change for employing me which is very kind of them. Although I was nervous about taking on this role initially, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and although very tired by the end, I was so pleased I had been given such a fantastic opportunity. Volunteers and co-ordinators were also offered training before the event which was very informative and helpful. Time to Change are very supportive and caring about the people who work with them and the volunteers. They made me feel so welcome and valued and that I was actually doing something positive to help challenge attitudes towards people who experience Mental Health difficulties. It really helped me with my confidence, it takes quite a lot of courage to go up to people and start a conversation but the more you do it the easier it gets and I met so many amazing and interesting people on the day.
The Village had a Cinema where people could watch a showreel of different Time to Change films which I helped to produce and has been used all around the country, something I am very proud of. I was asked to be the co-ordinator of this part of the Village and thoroughly enjoyed talking to people and encouraging them to watch the films in the cinema. I had some very interesting and emotional conversations during the day. The overwhelming favourite film was the speech bubble one about the bipolar date, people really liked this and they liked the humor. Several people who work in mental health and education even wanted a copy of the showreel.
It was fantastic to see Maggie Wheeler who is the Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and the Chair of the Service Users Council Stephen Fletcher visit the Time to Change Village. I also saw many friends including my good friend Rachel who I have known for many years.
The day was a huge success and I can’t wait for the next Time to Change Event. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, it was fantastic. I spoke to so many people, who were all very positive about the event and I talked non stop all day to the point that I ended up with a sore throat and was exhausted the next day. I had so many amazing and inspiring conversations with people, which at times made me feel quite emotional but also gave me an overwhelming feeling of inspiration and wanting to help and reassure people. It has made me realise just how much I love talking to people and helping them in a small way. It also gave me a much needed huge boost to my confidence. I met people who had their own mental health difficulties, people who knew nothing about mental health or TTC and I also met quite a few professionals who work in mental health. A nurse, someone who works on the Waveney ward at Hellesdon and a paramedic and someone who worked at Rethink. All the conversations I had were positive and obviously a few were emotional. Even people who did not have time to stop were courteous and very friendly and often would just take a postcard or leaflet from me.
I thought the Village and whole idea of interacting and engaging with the public is brilliant. All the activities, the singing, cinema, teas and coffees and volunteers were so effective. I also think that having it at the Forum worked really well. The steps provide a place for people to sit down and watch and also enabled me to go up to quite a few people to talk. The atmosphere was great, really buzzing and electric.
Thank you and well done to everyone involved in such a successful and rewarding day. And lastly a lovely picture of Sheila, Paola’s friends dog. Animals are part of Villages and dogs have mental health too and Sheila clearly enjoyed having her picture taken and visiting the Time to Change Village – good for her wellbeing.