We have had the opportunity to offer animal therapy through Noahs ART in October 2023 and November 2023 with a third planned in for December. Noahs Art highlight the benefits of the human-animal bond to improve mental health and wellbeing across Greater Manchester. These sessions have been beautifully received by our members who have had the opportunity to experience something new and therapeutic to support their wellbeing.
Here is some feedback from our members:
"I cannot overemphasise how beneficial this session was for me and so many other members... the atmosphere was so calming and it was nice to see so many smiles together in one room! I was able to learn about and handle (play with) animals id not come across before (bearded dragon). It helped me to reconnect with the members id not seen for a while and meet new ones. I had some time away in hospital last year and it helped me to just get out and do something different. I really hope this is something that could become more of a permanent fixture as i think the others could also really benefit from animal therapy. The staff / volunteers were fabulous and knowledgeable about the pets as well as patient and encouraging when people may have been apprehensive about some of the pets. Thank you it was really enjoyable and helped me in so many ways."
"I think this session was brilliant, it does have a positive effect on my self and my mental wellbeing. It has helped me to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people as well as animals"
"I cant thank you enough, Im so emotional today has been the happiest day in my life for years. Wonderful, fantastic, im so overwhelmed. Playing with the gorgeous Zeke, stroking him, doing his tricks with him and then asking him for a kiss and he licked my face i was in heaven . It made my day and im so grateful to everyone involved. I met the bearded dragon and a guinea pig - but meeting Zeke was the highlight. I really hope it can continue as it would help my mental health and help me to cope until I can hopefully have a dog of my own again. Its shown me that dogs truly give me a reason for living"
As the Service Delivery Manager here at the Creative Living Centre, seeing the emotional impact on our members was incredibly rewarding. We work hard to offer a variety of therapies and wellbeing activities here at the centre, with person centred counselling, Music therapy, Art therapy, psychodrama and holistic therapy available. Animal Therapy is something we have wanted to explore for a while but needed to do some fundraising for. Luckily, we have been able to fund 3 sessions and would like to continue this again next year.
If you would be interested in supporting us to offer animal therapy to members in the future, or to support any of our other activities, please see our donations & fundraising page and how to help to the CLC.
Thank you for reading
Our Take part coordinator Tom Wild spent some time on and off site in September at various events promoting the centres services for members, recruiting new volunteers, networking with local and national organisations and raising awareness of Creative Living Centre.
We kicked the month off by attending a job fair at the Bury Millgate job centre, there were many organisations involved and it was a great opportunity to recruit volunteers, give out information about the centre and build potential partnerships.
This was followed by attending a volunteer fair organised by our friends at MACC, it was well attended and it was wonderful to meet some potential volunteers and hear about other organisations volunteer training and work in Manchester.
Part of our regular outreach is to attend monthly volunteer forums hosted by Salford CVS and Bury VCFA, brilliant organisations offering support, training, information and skill sharing to volunteer coordinators across Manchester.
Sunday the 8th October took both Tom and Shelley to the Prestwich Makers Market where we were covered in paint for tile painting. A great day full of creativity and laughs, seeing some regular faces and meeting new people. Talking about all things mental health and wellbeing in addition to some volunteering enquiries.
On Wednesday 20th Tom was able to attend a taster session at RHS Bridgewater with the therapeutic gardener Ozichi Brewster in their wellbeing garden. The event was attended by a variety of professionals including members of staff from colleges, clinical/educational psychologists and other charity organisations. It was a wonderful experience and insight into the wellbeing sessions that are available to organisations and individuals. We foraged fruit, herbs and vegetables, planted some wild strawberries and even did some dancing in the rain! – Massive thanks to both Ozichi and Kerry who organised the day. We are now looking at taking some of our members over to the gardens in the near future.
We ended the month with an open day at the centre for potential volunteers and counselling students looking to undertake a placement with us. The day was well attended and supported by our current wonderful volunteer team. Huge thanks to all those who helped make the day a success, we couldn’t do it without you all! New volunteers will begin training on the 18th October and we look forward to welcoming them all to the team.
Thanks go out to Nas, Julie, Andrew, Rachel and the rest of the team at Bury Millgate job centre, Grace & Claire at Salford CVS, Tony & Neville at Bury VCFA, Barkery at MACC, Ozichi & Kerry at RHS Bridgewater and all our volunteers at the CLC.
Forever Manchester ‘Connecting Communities’ Walking Event August 2023.
On Wednesday 31st August our regular walking group ventured to Hollingworth Lake for a 4 mile walk around the beautiful scenic lake, accompanied at times by swans and ducks! Alongside our four volunteers were 11 members of the Creative Living Centre, who were able to enjoy the sunshine (after what felt like 2 months of rain!), connection, conversation and company!
We couldn’t have organised this event without the support of Forever Manchester and their Connecting Communities funding which helped pay for our transport to/from the lake. So a HUGE thanks to the team!
When the walking group returned to the creative living centre many shared lunch in our sunshine café at our regular lunch service which happens every Wednesday. There were many excited conversations about the walk and how good it was to go somewhere new and get out for a long walk!
Walking Group – Wednesdays 11-12.30
Lunch Service – Wednesdays 12.30-2.30
A massive thank you to our volunteers Jane, Evan, Helen & Craig who helped on the day
Take Part Co-ordinator
Art room clear up begins!
On Tuesday 18th July we welcomed external volunteer Helen to the centre, Helen works for a global recruitment company. She gets to give time back each year to a charity/cause of her choosing and we are happy to say she chose Creative Living Centre!
Diane one of our volunteers who supports the ‘Arts for all’ sessions on Mondays at 11-12.30 had noticed that a lot of our art materials were in a mess, there was a lot of empty paint pots, blunt pencils, disorganised drawers and unusable brushes! Therefore, we decided a clear up was needed and Helen came along just at the right time.
Helen and Diane spent the whole day removing old unusable materials, sorting & sharpening pencils, pens, brushes, paints, scissors, cleaning and tidying. You can see from the photos what a great job they have done in order to work out what materials we have and what we might need to support both our Arts for all group and our Art Therapy sessions facilitated by Anne-Marie on Mondays & Wednesdays.
We want to say a massive thank you to Helen for giving her time on the day and to our volunteer Diane for coming in for an extra day and for all her efforts week in, week out for the centre.
There is still some more work to do to complete the job so if you have some time spare and would like to get involved, please get in touch with our Take part coordinator – Tom Wild by contacting email@example.com
The one thing I’ve learnt since starting work at The Creative Living Centre is that no 2 days are the same!
Reception is the hub of The Creative Living Centre, it’s where all our members come into the centre, as well as volunteers, visitors and staff. I have met so many lovely people during the short time I have worked here – the main challenge has been to try and remember all the members’ names, which I think is such an important part of my job. I’ve tried to create a friendly warm welcome for members when they come into the centre. New members can be a bit nervous on their first visit and not know what to expect, but the staff and volunteers here are all very welcoming and the atmosphere within the centre is warm and inclusive.
We have a wide variety of activities and Workshops throughout the week. Wednesday is a very busy day, as our Café is open to members for a delicious home cooked lunch and the centre is always full of lovely cooking smells – not great for the diet! As I’m writing this, I can hear our Singing Group in full voice and it does cheer you up on a wet Thursday morning!
The charity feels like it’s in a really good place with lots of exciting things planned for the future. I’m so pleased to be a part of it.
Anne - Office and Reception Administrator
My journey at CLC started 15 years ago
I started on a placement from college as I was doing a two-year NVQ 3 in health and social care and a counselling course.
I have through my life looked after and cared for family members and friends who was diagnosed with having mental illness including myself, ranging from depression, bi-polar and schizophrenia.
I have experienced first hand what effects of having a mental illness is, I feel this gives me insight to relate and understand what and how mental illness is and coming from a personal experience the University of Life not just text book scenarios.
I have always been interested in the mind and how it works, realising just how powerful the mind can be by our thoughts alone and what we think has a massive effect on our life.
My aim was to utilise my own lived experience combined with my qualifications to enable me to support others to realise there own self worth in helping others to gain self-confidence and to empower them to reach their own true potential.
I loved the CLC as soon as I walked through those doors, there was an ENERGY that draws you in.
I love the holistic approach, seeing the whole person recognising we may be similar; However, we are all unique.
I love that the CLC work with our own body's healing mechanism and that the starting point is to share our humanity and compassion with each person that walks through the door and recognise people need time to be listen to and heard to go at there own pace to be encouraged and gently guided on their own journey to managing their own mental health in a more positive way.
It is the light not the darkness that most frightens us.
Remind yourself every day to be kind and gentle with you.
It was supposed to be the first day of the rest of my life, but instead it was nearly the last. On the day my first daughter was born my life took purpose and was nearly taken from almost immediately afterwards.
One week after I first walked into hospital I finally left. Life with a new baby is intense; particularly if, like mine, your new baby has colic and reflux and especially if you are breastfeeding. Every feed was a struggle for me to produce and my new-born would respond, in thanks, by throwing it back up over me again. We would repeat this dance all day and then spend our evenings with her constantly screaming out for something I couldn’t quite identify or seem to provide. I was plagued by intrusive thoughts, so much so I refused to leave the house most days as I was convinced my baby was going to die if we did. The house was no safer as I worried I might accidentally knock my baby’s head on the stone wall of our spiral staircase or that I might throw her against the fireplace and how her head might look after. I was convinced these thoughts meant I was a terrible mother so I hid them from everyone for a very long time.
It was when I became pregnant again that what I had been through reached crisis point. I was terrified I was going to die this time after my previous experience. I was classed as “high risk” because of my previous haemorrhages but this meant little in the way of medical reassurance and my concerns about my mortality were belittled or ignored. I spent my entire pregnancy feeling like a prisoner on death row until I started going to a pregnancy yoga class; it was the one time in the week where my brain was quiet of its questions and its flashbacks; where the panic didn’t stick in my throat causing me to feel like I couldn’t breathe, where there wasn’t a full time project that needed managing or a toddler who wanted snacks and me to play elaborate pretend games. It was my time for me and my baby. A moment; a pause in the chaos. A reminder to just breathe.
I was eventually signed off work with my anxiety in the lead up to my due date. I confided in my yoga teacher about my situation and it was she who mentioned post-traumatic stress disorder. Was that not just something people who had lived through wars had? Having a diagnosis, albeit a self-diagnosis helped me put my symptoms into perspective; I wasn’t crazy, I had suffered through a great trauma; I believed I was going to die and then this message was reiterated to me several times throughout the next few days. I was forced to confront my own mortality at a time when I was most vulnerable to mental ill-health already.
I still couldn’t control or see into the future but I could prepare for it. I started plastering positive birthing affirmations around my house; one on my bedroom mirror, one behind the hob. I spent ages on my hypnobirthing music, focusing on a smooth and easy birth. Whenever an intrusive thought sneaked in I reminded myself that my body was literally made for this. Knowledge was power and I knew what I needed to do this time from my own side to avoid haemorrhaging. There were things that I could take control of.
I never felt ready for what was to come but when my labour came I embraced it with my full force; employing all my techniques and tactics I had learned at yoga and through my own studies. I had a relatively easy time of it and text my friend after she was born proclaiming “she’s here; that was a walk in the park!”
I now think of yoga as part of my daily routine, like brushing my hair. At times I find motherhood difficult and some days remembering to exhale feels like a conscious act. Knowing that I have that time to breathe after they are both in bed can keep me focused on getting through an epic bedtime stand-off. When things are hard I hold onto something my yoga teacher once said to me: after a contraction there is always an expansion.