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  • Do you want to write creatively but you don't know where to start? Get advice on journal keeping, play with rhymes and build poems with people who appreciate your point of view, or simply find the sparks to light up your life stories.
    Come and try our two-hour sessions hosted by poet and diarist Steve Urwin, a versatile published performer who is passionate about wordplay as a tool for personal wellbeing.

    We’ve successfully delivered our first session on 3rd October.

    “A huge thank you to Steve Urwin http://steveurwintalkingpen.blogspot.com/ for coming along to our Open Door session on 3rd October for our first Ways with Words session. I think I can safely say, not all of us thought we could write, but some real talent was unleashed and we’re really looking forward to the next 5 sessions.”

    We'll deliver 5 other Creative Writing sessions in our Open Door group in Jarrow in October.

    If you’re a South Tyneside resident why not join us on World Mental Health Day on 10th October, or for one of the future sessions to explore your inner talents and have a few laughs in relaxed company. The session takes place at Jarrow Hub at 1.30-3.30pm.

    Just pop in, or contact Lisa Taylor for more information on 0191 4774545, or email lisa.taylor@tynesidemind.org.uk.

    No referral is required, you just need to complete a Registration Form when you attend.

  • Kris McGough and his family at the Great North Run 2018
    Caption: Kris McGough and his family at the Great North Run 2018
    Kris McGough Desert Island Challenge T-shirt
    Caption: Kris McGough Desert Island Challenge T-shirt

    On the 1st of October 2018, 6 men will be travelling to Sirobate, a remote Indonesian island, to complete an 8-day challenge in an adventurous attempt to collect funds and raise awareness on mental health called the desert Island Breakthrough Adventure. Kris McGough, a family man with 3 kids aged 3-20 and happily married, will be leaving his family for this time to participate and face his fears in support to Tyneside and Northumberland Mind.

    The journey there consists of three planes, a car and a boat. The first flight takes the men to Dubai where they will catch their second flight from to Jakarta. From Jakarta they will then fly to Sulewesi where a car will take them to a boat which will sail them to the unknown. Each man has had their fair share of mental health issues which has qualified them to go on this trip abroad where they will fend for themselves the whole time. One of these men has shared his story with us.

    Kris McGough, a family man with 3 kids aged 3-20 and happily married, will be leaving his family for this time to participate and face his fears. Kris has lived with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety brought on by physical health issues. Due to a bad back he was put on antibiotics to help the pain. These antibiotics have brought on a diagnosis of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) which has impacted his life greatly.

    Kris is now anxious about basic everyday situations that the average person deals with just fine. Things like getting a bus or a trip to the park with the family could become stressful for Kris due to not knowing whether his IBS will take its toll.

    Kris’ family has a history of mental health issues bringing this challenge even closer to home for him. Not only does he experience struggles of his own revolving around poor mental health, but his brother and dad also are sufferers with his brother having depression and his dad having bipolar.

    With kids, a wife, a brother and his dad all looking to him for support the time away completing this challenge will not only be a great achievement and chance to face his mental health issues head on but it could also be a chance to get away and relax, well once he’s caught his tea each night and built his shelter for the week.

    The people who will be completing the challenge alongside Kris are also sufferers of poor mental health, so it is an opportunity to meet people who he can relate to. Men tend to not seek help for mental health issues more so than women for various reasons. Sometimes being because of pride and dignity or in fear of losing their manhood and feeling like a liability on their wives and kids.

    The stigma around men and mental health issues can be a real problem in a lot of cases and sharing his story is a step to breaking this stigma. A problem shared is a problem halved.

    You can support Kris by donating on his Justgiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/krismcgough

    Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

  • Poster creative writing session in October

    Do you want to write creatively but you don't know where to start? Get advice on journal keeping, play with rhymes and build poems with people who appreciate your point of view, or simply find the sparks to light up your life stories.

    Come and try our two-hour sessions hosted by poet and diarist Steve Urwin, a versatile published performer who is passionate about wordplay as a tool for personal wellbeing.

    We'll deliver 6 Creative Writing sessions in our Open Door group in Jarrow in October.

    If you live in South Tyneside, come and join us for one or all of the sessions. They are FREE for and run for 6 weeks every Wednesday from 3 Oct-7 Nov at 1.30-3.30pm at Open Door Jarrow, Big Local Offices, Jarrow Hub, Cambrian Street, Jarrow, NE32 3QN

    No referral is required, you just need to complete a Registration Form when you attend.

    Contact Lisa Taylor at Tyneside & Northumberland Mind to book a place.

    Tel: 0191 4774545 or email lisa.taylor@tynesidemind.org.uk

  • 14 August 2018

    Out of the woods

    Simon Lowe Photography - Out of the woods

    Simon Lowe is a photographer based in Whitley Bay. For World Photo Day, he shares some of the ways in which photography has helped his mental health.

    Before photography became my profession it was my safe place.

    Although I’ve been interested it since I was a boy, I first took it up as a hobby 12 years ago. Having lived with periods of low mood, mild depression and anxiety for a while, I realised I needed something to distract me, so I bought a digital SLR camera. Once I’d worked out what most of the buttons did, I started photographing nearby landscapes. Living near the coast, I had plenty of subject matter to choose from: St Mary’s Lighthouse, Tynemouth, Seaton Sluice were all within easy reach of home.

    These places and the pursuit of photography effectively became a refuge, an opportunity to escape from my troubles. An hour watching the light change at sunrise or sunset and trying to capture the scene helped my state of mind greatly. Worries slipped away and tensions eased. I would stop talking to myself - often a reliable indicator of my anxiety - and I’d focus on what was in front of me.

    Photography is a very mindful process. Especially landscape photography. I learned very quickly that my best photos came from becoming completely aware of my surroundings - absorbing the sounds, colours and shapes of the landscape I stood in helped me see patterns and create compositions. The way a wave washed over a rock, the lines of light and shadows through a stand of trees. Despite our best efforts, the weather and light on any given day are never predictable, so any disappointment at the results wasn’t worth mulling over. Instead of chasing some elusive concept for a photo, I learned to appreciate chance moments. The photo I’ve chosen to accompany these words is one of those chances.

    I took this photo in the depths of Kielder Forest in Northumberland. At the time I had been poorly with low mood and anxiety. And after several false starts on previous days, I had finally forced myself out and into the car, knowing that the fresh air and a change of scene would do me good.

    It was a bright October day and I’d been walking through rows of dark pines for a while. The path turned west and rose and the low autumn sun cut through the trees in front of me. I watched for a moment, took a couple of photos then moved on.

    It was just a brief moment, but I’d been there for it. The remainder of the walk was fairly unremarkable - a muddy plodge over a moor followed by a detour around some grumpy cattle to return to the car - but that moment stayed with me.

    At the time I took this photo, I’d been listening to the band Foals. Their album ‘Holy Fire’ had been on heavy rotation in the car and at home. When I looked back over the photos I’d taken and came to edit them, one track was running on repeat around my head:

    It's times like these when I'm on my way out of the woods,
    Never felt better than when I'm on my way out for good.
    It's times like these when I'm on my way back out of the woods.
    I'll never be afraid again now I'm out of here for good.

    The track, its sense of liberation seemed to chime with the image in front of me and my situation. There were possibilities, opportunities, things to look forward to.

    I’d be ok.

    © Image and Text: Simon Lowe Photography

    www.simonlowephoto.co.uk

  • The MIND Pool to Open Water Swimming Programme aims at helping people who face anxiety and depression as physical activity and open water are said to be beneficial. Jane Hardy, Community Sport Officer at ACTIVE Northumberland, shared her thoughts in an open letter about her last sailing and diving experience with the programme’s participants on the Northumberland coast.

    “What can I say? Yesterday evening couldn't have gone better. The winds dropped, the sea was flat calm - almost warm for the North Sea. There were no jellyfish and the sun came out.

    I told William Shiel, owner and Captain of Billy Shiel Farne Islands Boats, about the group we were working with and he went the extra mile to make sure they had an experience of a lifetime.

    He very kindly took the boat via Staple Island, so that we could look at all the birds (puffins, guillemot, razor bills, shags, cormorants...). He did this at the start of the trip when everyone was still warm and dry!

    The seals were fantastic as always. We swam in a protected area in front of Longstone lighthouse.

    The participants were amazing! They've come so far in their 8-week journey:

    • Week 1: They were nervous to go down the ladder into the pool & put their faces in the water.
    • Week 8: They were jumping off a boat into the North Sea 4 miles off the coast of Britain & swimming with Atlantic grey seals in their natural environment

    They were all radiant as they exited the swim and rightly so. They've all knocked down barriers and raised self-esteem.

    Then, the highlight of the trip! We were just about back in the harbour at Seahouses when William spotted dolphins in the distance.

    So, instead of steering us back into the harbour, William took us along the coast to the bottle nosed dolphins. We have bottle nosed dolphins as visitors in May & June when the salmon are running - it was a HUGE treat.

    Instead of getting us back for shortly after 7pm, we were still at sea at 9pm watching these majestic creatures riding in the bow waves and leaping giving us the most amazing display of wildlife.

    William had been up early and out at sea with divers all day, so we can't thank him enough!”

    Jane Hardy - Community Sport Officer at ACTIVE Northumberland

    Tyneside and Northumberland Mind would also like to thank:

    • Active Northumberland and Alnwick Town Council as funders of this project
    • Active Northumberland, including some dedicated volunteers who facilitated the project
    • A special mention to Jane Hardy and Christine Smith for all their support and energy
    • Costa Alnwick for donating some cups for use on the boat
    • Lewis fish and chip shop where we all ended up after the event for some well-deserved sustenance

    This wouldn’t have been possible without your support. A big thank you to All!

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Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, Wellbeing Centre, Dunsmuir Grove, Bensham, Gateshead NE8 4QL. Telephone: 0191 477 4545  Email: admin@tynesidemind.org.uk 
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Registered office: Tyneside Mind, Wellbeing Centre, Dunsmuir Grove, Bensham, Gatheshead NE8 4QL. Company Number: 7552434. Charity Number: 1140856.