I am currently providing Volunteer Peer advocacy support in children’s centers around the Borough this includes libraries and other events where we get the opportunity to speak to parents and hand out literature promoting the service.
The Volunteer Parental Peer Advocacy service is operated by Mind in Croydon and funded by Comic Relief. The purpose of the project is to empower parents of children aged 0-18 who may be experiencing mental health problems by sign posting them to the agencies who may be able to assist and advise them on the problems they are facing. For instance I was able to assist a man I met at a dad’s group that was experiencing anxiety and had issues around benefits, housing and antisocial behavior. With the assistance of the Parenting Advocate Nichola I was able to sign post him to the appropriate benefits advice services such as Mind in Croydon. I also provided contact details of Hear Us, as they are able to assist service users with filling in forms.
I feel the most stressful job in society for me is being a parent. It does not come with a manual. There are many experiences as a parent that can cause a previously well balanced parent to suffer mental health problems, such as divorce and the isolation and loneliness that accompanies becoming a single parent. Financial problems; it is very difficult trying to manage a tight budget especially if you are a single parent and your child wants the most expensive pair of trainers or mobile phone due to peer pressure and you do not want your child to be socially excluded because of poverty.
Other issues may arise for parents if their teenage children experience peer pressure and truancy when a teen age girl or boy refuses to go to school and the parent is called to a meeting with the educational welfare officer and told to make sure the child attends school or face prosecution. These issues may cause conflict and stress in the relationship between parent and child which only increases anxiety, not only for the parent, but also for the child. There is little wonder that so many parents experience mental health problems and there is a very real need for the parental peer advocacy service.
The reason I was motivated to become a voluntary peer advocate is because I have experienced many of the problems mentioned above and I want to help parents in a similar position. Life circumstances left me bringing up five children as a single parent following my marital break up.
For me there was a light at the end of the tunnel, Nine years on my children are now well balanced young adults, three of my daughters are married and I have three grandchildren and my son now has a responsible job working for the local authority and no longer requires medication. I am very proud of my children.
By John Holmes Volunteer Peer Advocate for the Parenting Advocacy Service Mind in Croydon.
One of the activities run by Mind in Croydon’s ‘Active Minds’ service is horticulture groups for those who have a green thumb and enjoy being outdoors.
The horticulture groups are an opportunity to learn gardening skills, grow fruit and vegetables and meet new people with the shared interest of horticulture.
As a volunteer for Mind in Croydon, I went along to help at the South Croydon allotment; weeding and watering, growing and gardening, pruning and tidying. I was surprised at the number and variety of plants, fruit and veg being grown at the allotment; from plums, apples and grapes to sweet peas, rhubarb, runner beans, French beans, broad beans and potatoes – to name just a few!
The horticultural members were extremely dedicated and knowledgeable about all the different things growing at the allotment, as well as being passionate about maintaining a fruitful allotment and enjoying working outdoors. Working in the outdoors has a proven uplifting effect on your mood (especially when the sun is shining!) I can certainly say I enjoyed the fresh air which made a nice change from working at a desk in an office. What’s more, I gained a sense of satisfaction from removing unwanted weeds (which is also surprisingly therapeutic!)
Working in the allotment can act as a stepping stone to work, through building confidence and experience, or simply a way to start a hobby or nurture an existing interest in gardening or horticulture. However, undoubtedly the best part about the horticulture group is reaping the rewards of all the hard work and effort being put into the allotment by harvesting (and most importantly eating!) what has been grown – and enjoying a cup of tea at the end to refuel energy.
To find out more about horticultural groups or other activities offered by the Active Minds service, visit our website http://www.mindincroydon.org.uk/active-minds.asp or call 0208 253 8205/6
Mind in Croydon’s ‘Active Minds’ service
At Mind in Croydon’s allotment as part of our ‘Active Minds’ service
Apples growing at Mind in Croydon’s allotment as part of the ‘Active Minds’ service
Apples growing at Mind in Croydon’s allotment as part of the ‘Active Minds’ service
Mind in Croydon offer an ‘Active Minds’ service which provides a taster of activities to stimulate new interests, promote a healthy lifestyle and improve confidence for those with mental health problems.
‘Active Minds’ offer numerous activities from Boxercise to relaxation sessions, ‘Cook and Taste’ groups to swimming, Table Tennis to Horticulture Groups and more!
As a volunteer for Mind in Croydon, I went along to an ‘Active Minds’ Yoga class which uses breathing and stretching techniques for gentle relaxation.
After introductions from the other members and the Yoga instructor, Su, we were led through some gentle breathing exercises to use full breathing capacity and increase the oxygen flow in the blood and to reach both sides of the brain. Such breathing exercises aid relaxation but also reduce negative feelings. There were a surprising number of additional benefits, such as help with sleeping issues, thyroid problems, sore throats and strategies to help with panic attacks and remaining calm when stressed or anxious.
After breathing, we moved on to stretching exercises to help with strength, flexibility, dexterity, blood circulation and alleviation of pain such as lower back pain or neck problems. Gentle stretching also reduces stress as they relax tense muscles. One stretching exercise even had benefits for weight loss! What’s more, because stretching is a gentle exercise, it gives the same endorphin-boosting effects, improving mood.
The instructor carefully explained and demonstrated each exercise and told us how the activity benefitted our minds, body and wellbeing. Alternative positions and exercises were demonstrated if people struggled or if they had problems with their backs or necks.
Some exercises let out anger, increased happiness through laughing and rebalanced the 7 bodily pressure points. The Yoga session ended with a wellbeing prayer for good health and happiness.
I left the Yoga session feeling relaxed and calm. I discovered Yoga is a brilliant way to exercise gently and help soothe the body and mind. The class size was small, allowing individuals to get to know one another and adds a personal touch, with the instructor knowing everyone’s name and being able to help people individually with exercises.
Plans for the Positive Steps charity walk in Lloyd Park, Croydon on Saturday 25th May 2013 are shaping up nicely!
The walk marks Mental Health Awareness Week and aims to promote mental health and well being.
Walkers will lap the five kilometre route around Lloyd Park three times to make a total of 15km – however, we simply want people to get involved so walkers can do as little or as much as they can manage.
We will also be running other activities throughout the day:
But if all that hasn’t got you excited enough to register, an unmissible opportunity …
Ronnie Corbett officially opening the walk at 10am!
Registration is just £10 and £5 for children. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an appropriate adult. Registration will be available on the day, however, spaces are limited. Alternatively, download a registration form on our Positive Steps page; http://www.mindincroydon.org.uk/positive-steps.asp#.UW_6akogjh4
Please note that parking is restricted on the day, so please use public transport.
If you have any questions, please call Mind in Croydon on 020 8668 2210.
With thanks to…
Liverpool Victoria our main sponsors for the event.
Fit by Sonic: http://www.fitbysonic.com/
The Sushi Experience: http://www.thesushiexperience.net/
County Paramedics Resources: http://countyparamedicresources.com/
Cheap Leaflets: http://cheapleaflets.co.uk/
These are two new banners for raising awareness for our Independent Parenting and Volunteer Peer Advocacy Services, held at our drop-in at Croydon Central library.
See here for more info; http://www.mindincroydon.org.uk/advocacy.asp#.UW_3EEogjh4