Last week was an eventful week for The Stress Project, as they joined in with the Community Centre Week celebrations. For those of you that aren’t aware, Community Centre Week is an annual event run by the Octopus Community Network. It’s all about everyone who runs, works in and volunteers at the centres in Islington, coming together and sharing what they do and love about their communities. The event is now in it’s 5th year and this year’s theme was all about being neighbourly.
What better way to be neighbourly and take full advantage of the sunshine than to have a BBQ! Which is exactly what The Stress Project held on Tuesday 24th July. It was a fun and entertaining afternoon, with staff and volunteers providing a warm (literally) welcome to regular service users and local residents. Everything was generously provided for and it was really nice to see everyone come together to relax in the well-loved garden over some yummy burgers and live music. There was even a raffle. Passers by dropped in to join us in singing along to some Beatle’s and Elvis classics - I’m sure they were partly enticed in by the wafting smells of the BBQ.
When the heat got a bit much there was always the coolness of inside to retreat to. This gave me an opportunity to chat to some of the regulars who have been going for a while, about their experience. It was interesting to hear how it wasn’t just the services and treatments available that they valued. It was being able to come to the drop-in sessions to have a chat and get a bit of break from everything and the difference this has made in their lives.
The following day there was a celebration of Community Centre Week at Islington Assembly Hall. Several of the community centres were there with loads of info about what they offer. Carol, The Stress Project Centre Manager, gave a short presentation on how they’d been working together with Octopus to reach out to young people, helping to break down the stigma of mental health. Afterwards, we were given a mini mindfulness taster session, taking some lovely deep breaths and getting present to our surroundings. I definitely felt a lot calmer and more peaceful after. I have tried mindfulness in the past and know from experience this is just some of the many benefits.
Things then got quite a bit more active, with chairs being moved to the side for some disco dancing, zumba and line dancing. I’d definitely underestimated my coordination skills when it came to the line dancing but it was a lot of fun. Everyone got really into it and the instructors were great. The activities didn’t stop there, there was a performance from the Nags Head Community Choir and stalls for watercolour painting, Henna, face painting and chair massages. It was great to see all the community centres getting to connect with people who are just discovering what is actually going on in their area. I had no idea there were so many different classes, events and support available.
There seemed to be quite a few who’d come in support of the centres they attend. The Stress Project had previously conducted an interview with people to find out what they most valued in their community centre. The feedback was that the people were the most important, being able to come together and it feeling like home. That was definitely the feeling I got the past few days.
A bit of extra news: we've some new therapies at the Tuesday drop-in (10.30am to 1pm). We've now got Reiki, Massage and Reflexology.