Northern Ireland | Alex's Update
Hello to the new members of Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters - I'm thrilled to say we now have 220 members in Northern Ireland. For those of you on Facebook, I’d like to tell you about the regional Northern Ireland BoB/BoS page; it’s a great network for communicating with your fellow members and keeping in touch with one another, so if you're interested in joining, please do get in touch.
We kicked off the month with visits from two colleagues based at Phoenix House: Lucy Wray, BoB and BoS Manager of the North, and Elizabeth Hancock, Lead Psychological Wellbeing Adviser. Elizabeth hosted a ‘Compassionate Mind’ introductory session which encouraged participants to review why we think and behave in a certain way. It was a thought-provoking theory and I hope it was of great benefit to attendees. During their visit, Lucy and Elizabeth linked in with other ex-service organisations and met with local BoB and BoS which proved very beneficial.
The Fellowship Photography Project has had a very busy month. On 4 April, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council kindly launched the Veterans Photography Exhibition which examined aspects of mental ill-health recovery. The impressive exhibition at Mossley Mill was attended by photography group members and their families, Mayor John Scott and other councillors, and staff from an ex-service charity. Members displayed their beautiful and emotive images, and explained what each photograph personally represented during their own recovery journey. The exhibition has now relocated to Antrim Castle Gardens, where it remains until 30 April. I highly recommend a visit!
The group also enjoyed a trip to Ballycastle on 13 April. Between the wet showers and hot chocolate breaks, the group explored the harbour and beach, which provided ideal locations for seascapes. They continued their teaching sessions at a local studio on 20 April to further enhance their photography skills and technique.
No previous experience (or a camera) is required to participate in the photography project. If you're interested in joining the group, just get in touch.
The end of April sees a trip to Phoenix House for some North Team training with colleagues. It's always great to visit the Recovery Centre – it’s such a welcoming, interactive and motivational venue. BoB and BoS are most welcome to make use of the wonderful activities and courses available at the Recovery Centre and I would encourage all members to visit and test it out.
I'm looking forward to two great events in May: a lunch in Portstewart and a round of mini-golf for all the family. Please get in touch if you'd like more information.
Scotland | Gerry's update
Hello to all BoB and BoS in Scotland!
My first month as your new Regional Coordinator has passed by so fast I don’t think my feet have touched the ground. In my first week I was lucky enough to attend a couple of the Focus Groups - it was good to hear what members were thinking and what everyone wanted to see happening.
I'm currently arranging some regular get-togethers for members in as many of the areas as I can, so you can meet up over coffee and cake to have a chat, make new friends and get support. Eventually, there will be a large calendar of events up and running over the year, including family days, activities, pamper and wellbeing days, craft events, sports and so on. Plans are well underway, so please look out for them, and if there are any that appeal, do get in touch.
Coming up in May
- Monday 1 May – Friday 26 May | Stand Easy Productions Theatre Project, Dundee
- Thursday 4 May | Coffee Morning in Lothians Veterans Centre, Dalkeith
- Saturday 13 May | Wheels to Water Para Water Sport & Para Cycling Event, Castle Semple Centre, Lochwinnoch
There will be the opportunity to see the opening night performance on Friday 19 May and the following week there will be performances in Community Centres in the Dundee area. Look out for an email with the details.
Other Events in May/June
There are going to be coffee and cake get-togethers in a number of areas during May and June. Events are being planned as we speak - we'll send the details out via email soon.
I'm very excited to be given this opportunity to support everyone. If you have any ideas or questions, please let me know - if I can't help, I'll be able to signpost onto someone who can. Just drop me an email.
North East | Harriet's update
We kicked off the start of the Leeds half term with a visit to the Royal Armouries. We had our own private tour around a section of the gallery, learning about the history of armour through the years and how it has developed. Not sure I would have offered to wear any of it in battle, mind. We then managed to get our hands on some of the artefacts, including swords, shields and body armour. The chainmail was so heavy I couldn’t even lift it off the table!
On 5 April we made our way to Bradford for an evening of bowling. I did notice a slightly competitive side to one or two of us! Thinking back to the last time we all went bowling, I was soon regretting not putting the bumpers up either side of the lane to stop our bowling balls going into the gutter. But we had a fantastic time meeting some new friends.
Easter arrived and so did the Easter bunny here at Phoenix House. We had a fantastic turn out of over 60 children (and plenty of big kids!) We started the afternoon with hands-on chocolate nest making, Easter basket making for our Easter egg hunt later on, and the traditional card making. Needless to say by the end of the get together there were a lot of smiley chocolate grins.
We have plenty more get togethers coming up next month, so keep an eye on your emails.
If you think you may not be receiving all of our emails, please let me know, or give me a call on 01748 834148 so we can get the issue solved and make sure you're not missing out on any activities or events.
North West | Kevin's update
Have you ever been invited to an art exhibition when you know absolutely nothing about art?
Well, I was invited to the Art of Recovery Exhibition hosted by Slater and Gordon in Manchester and welcomed by David McNeill, the H4H Head of Recovery North.
The event was a showcase of art and woodwork created by H4H beneficiaries at Phoenix House. It was great to meet the artists, see their creations and learn about their stories of how art had helped in their recovery.
The exhibition is open to the public for the next couple of weeks. If you’re in Manchester, just drop into Slater and Gordon on Mosley Street to have a look.
A week later, we held a small BoB/BoS meeting at Slater and Gordon so everyone could see each others' artwork. It was also an opportunity to invite the volunteers behind the scenes to meet the BoB/BoS, and thank them for all their hard work in fundraising and building awareness so these events can take place.
Have you ever been ten pin bowling and been hoodwinked by a shark?
We had an afternoon of bowling which was immense fun. I realised I played better with the barriers up! One of the BoBs threw four strikes in a row. Game on. I attempted curve balls, speed balls, and some moves you couldn't name. My last bowl of the day was poetry in motion. Strike! There was no victory dance, but inside I danced like nobody was watching.
Having my passport stamped in Preston
It was great to finally get to Preston and meet a couple of BoB/BoS for a quick catch up. We had the opportunity to meet at Dig In which is a great Veteran project looking at gardening as a form of recovery.
What veterans say about Dig In
“I would highly recommend if you're around Preston during the week to pop in and have a brew and say hello to the Dig In Team. They have family days as well, just for partners and kids.”
“We were invited into the man cave. This cave was a place where you could work with wood and metal to create objects. The team are all Veterans and it’s a really chilled atmosphere with no pressure to even lift a shovel.”
It’s been a great month meeting so many BoB/BoS, hearing their stories and taking their feedback on how we can develop our fellowship in the North West. The highlight of the month has to be the Art to Recovery Exhibition. There's loads planned for the near future, so keep reading the mailings and giving me your feedback.
If you need any support, please email me.Back to Bandstand