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I have just completed the Community Reporting training delivered by Cat from People’s Voice Media in Wakefield, with funding from the Health Foundation’s Q Exchange. All I can say is the revolution starts here in terms of building the power of the people’s voice in relation to our creative approaches. At Creative Minds we have always believed in the people’s voice and luckily, as a charity hosted by the NHS, the voice of participants from our projects has shaped and progressed our development. We have had individuals come forward and tell their stories over the years and it has always been filed away under soft and fluffy; just one person’s story. This will all change as I feel we will now build a massive collection of stories that will be heard.

It was really heart-warming to be part of the group working this way

It was such an incredible privilege to be with everyone in the room at the training, all working together and helping each other to become responsible community reporters. Everyone came together with a real passion for the wellbeing benefits of creativity and all believed in the power of telling your story. Everyone had something to contribute and Cat’s empowering approach meant we truly co-produced the training and led the way forward together. It really was heart-warming to be part of the group working in this way; everyone completely comfortable in sharing their stories and having them filmed by their peers.

I met some truly inspiring people on the day, people who said that creativity is incredibly important to them, but sadly until recently it had not played much of a role in the mental health care. People who had found a passion and talent that they did not know they had and the confidence this had given them was truly life transforming. People who had lived on the edges of society unable to find a place where they belong, but creativity opened up a door that made them feel welcome and un-judged. A strong message that emerged was that we are all vulnerable to fluctuations in our mental health, everyone has a story to tell and we really need to look after each other.

We believe that the people’s voice will make a real difference in changing hearts and minds

I am really looking forward to the next stage of the project, which will be us all getting together again to start to decide on the themes and curate the short stories into longer films that will reveal our key messages. We know as outsiders in the system we do need to work extra hard to get our messages across, we believe that the people’s voice will make a real difference in changing hearts and minds; “the revolution will be televised”.

We really hope that more people will see that creative approaches are not just soft and fluffy but can make a serious contribution to wellbeing, recovery and transform lives.

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