Tallula Bentley - Mental Health Awareness Week

Some beautiful words from Tallula Bentley as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.  

 

Self unself

Undress ones self

I am clothed but my reflection is naked

I am forever a thin skinned child

Like water, I am soft

Always soft I stand

All the facets of my history rubbed raw

Exposed to myself

The undressing undoing of ones self

Reveals an unself

 

 

Phoebe's Story - Mental Health Awareness Week

As you may have seen we have been posting stories through out the week, however we were only able to record a small amount. While running this campaign I have been sent some beautiful words, I want to share them with you because I believe they are important. If you would like to also share your story we encourage you to use #storiesformentalhealth

Thank you so much for being part of a powerful movement! 

This story is from Phoebe Douglas, I cannot describe how overwhelmed I am by this writing. I known Phoebe for a long time, in this piece of writing you can see her honesty, understanding and light shine through. Inspiring in so many ways, one being that she is not afraid to admit the harder or angrier parts of her journey. She has put a unfathomable amount of hard work into make her life better. I am so proud and I love you lots Phoebe. 

I have always been an anxious person, I can’t remember my first panic attack because they have been so recurrent throughout my life, I have always been shy, I never made friends when we went away on holiday I would watch my younger sister play with other kids and feel jealous, and I have always been sensitive, I have never watched the moment Bambi’s mother died and not shed a tear. I guess that’s just who I am. But anxiety became a problem for me when I was about 16/17, I started to bunk off school a lot because I felt too anxious to leave my house, I lied and told my parents and teachers I had a stomach issue, for a while everyone thought I had IBS. But I got through school with reasonably good grades and it was presumed the natural progression for me was university.


The idea of moving to a new city where I knew no one filled me with dread, so despite all the advice I was getting, I decided to get a shitty job in a coffee shop and stay in London instead.
And that was the first-time depression reared its ugly head. I hated my job and the only relief I got from it was partying at the weekend. And partying of course involved sticking a ton of chemicals up my nose into my already fragile brain. I was young and naïve and it felt fun. Drugs would continue to feel fun for years, but the come downs got worse and worse, and my depression deepened and deepened.


Depression is the loneliest place in the world, its watching everyone you love and like move on with their lives and you’re left outside in the cold, frozen to the spot. My anxiety continued to get worse, to the point where I was signed of sick (I didn’t have a job at the time I was on Job seeker’s allowance) because I couldn’t even get to an interview. In 2015 I got into Goldsmith’s to study English literature and I thought I had stopped the rot. I was regularly going to the gym, I was excited about starting uni, I had plenty to look forward too. In the Summer before uni started I got into a very non-committal but very intense relationship with a housemate. Everyone told me this was a bad idea, but I think I’m a pleasure seeker through and through. I don’t think of the consequences to my actions and if something feels good I do it, no matter what. I started uni, the anxiety returned with a vengeance. I would walk into class and be unable to speak to anyone, I hated walking through uni most of all. Everyone was always in groups and I was always on my own. The relationship I was in became toxic very fast, it wasn’t really his fault, he was struggling with his own stuff too, but I did deserve better. I had to move out of my house and back into my mums. Moving back home was hard, but I think it was harder for my family. I was so horrible. People always tell you about the desperate sadness with depression but do they tell you about the anger? I was so so angry, with myself, with my family, with my mum most of all. She couldn’t help me, and I really needed help and I resented her so much for that. I would scream at my family, I’ve said and done awful things to them. Why does no one talk about the anger? I can’t be the only one. I remember wanting to be sectioned just so someone would help. During all this I was on very strong antidepressants, they seemed to be of little help and they constantly made me feel nauseous. I lost over a stone. (Sad but true; everyone kept telling me how skinny I was and I loved it!) I spent the Christmas break back in my student house (my old housemates had gone home and I still had a key) getting off my face. I would take a whole group of people back, someone (usually me) would suggest getting coke and so it would begin. I spent days without seeing sunlight drinking and snorting, and not one of the people I called friends ever once asked if I was ok. I let a guy stay in my house who sexually assaulted me in my sleep. When I told my friends no one really cared, I mean they said comforting things at the time but insisted I confront the guy at a house party and when I couldn’t well suddenly the blame for the assault was on me. Once Christmas was over the party house was over and so was the distraction. Misery set in really badly. I know the pattern of the textured wallpaper next to my bed better than the skin on my own hand, I would spend hours, days staring at it.


One night I arranged to see my old housemates, it was the first time I would see them since moving out and so of course I was really anxious. I desperately still wanted them to like me despite how I had had to move out. My mum offered me a lift, I agreed. I got in her car and we started arguing. I don’t remember over what. I was screaming at her as she drove round Lewisham roundabout and she had to drive round it twice because the first time she missed the turning. We got to the house and were sat outside in her parked car. I was still screaming. And then I did something I will never forgive myself for I hit her. I hit her so hard, she was crying and she looked scared. I told you the anger was the worst. I got out her car ran to the house, banged on the door. My housemates let me in and I curled up in the hall crying. They were completely confused. I ran out the house and I just ran. I ran so far. I wonder what I looked like running through the night, tears pouring down my face, wild, incensed. Utterly bonkers probably. The first newsagents I passed once I had stopped running I brought a pack of paracetamol, and two bottles of wine. I brought more paracetamol at the next shop, and the next and the next. I don’t remember how many I went to. And then I sat in a park drank the wine and swallowed all the pills, and promised myself I would die in that park.

I didn’t (obviously) I ended up walking myself to A’n’E, hounding myself the whole way with thoughts like “you’re so pathetic, you can’t even kill yourself”. I stood outside Lewisham hospital for ages, unable to go in. Just crying on a wall. What happened next I have only fully explained to one person and for now I want it to stay that way. But a guy found me, vulnerable and at rock bottom, and he took advantage. I was sexually assaulted, I got away before it went too far, I ran back to the hospital and broke down at the reception. I wish I could say the A’n’E staff were great, they weren’t. They were stressed, and busy, and tired (it was 3am). I wasn’t a priority. I just wanted someone to tell me it was alright, they didn’t. A nurse shouted at me because I violently threw up in the sink rather than all over myself. I finally let them call my mum the next afternoon. I will never forget the look on her face when she saw me, I felt so guilty. I still feel guilty.

The shame was overwhelming, for days I didn’t go outside or answer messages. My mum had contacted two of my friends to see if they knew where I was, my inbox was full of concerned messages. Honestly I wanted them all to shut up, except one person. I had over the last and worst few months of my life been chatting with a male friend who I had known for a long time. For some reason, he seemed to genuinely care, and not only that understand. For some reason whenever I spoke to him I felt better, and not just like distracted better but actually better better. I didn’t get that with anyone else. I spoke to him first, and he’s still the only person I have ever spoken to about it all.


And that was it, that was my way out of the darkness. The light I needed was love. I fell madly, head over heels, in love. And he loved me back. Soppy I know and I wish I had something more concrete to offer, like do this and you will feel better but that’s just not how these things work.

My closest girlfriends confronted me a week or so after being in hospital. They wanted me to talk to them, they felt they deserved an explanation. They said it had been hard for them. I wanted to scream at them, what about me? It’s been harder for me! I did scream it at them. But in fairness to them it had been hard. Another thing they don’t tell you about depression; it has a huge impact on the people around you. I have made my mum, sister and dad cry multiple times, even though all they have ever given me is love and support. I have made the people who love and care for me worry and stress and become depressed themselves. Depression is like that, it’s an engulfing cloud, it swallows you whole, and it’ll try to suck in those closest to you. My friends had been impacted. But I wasn’t ready to talk and I deserved friends who understood that. I deserved friends who stuck by me despite the toll I had taken on them. Not all of my friends were those friends, but to the ones that stayed. And the new ones I have made since, Thank you.

I’m still struggling, I believe I will struggle with my mental health the rest of my life. But the good days out way the bad now, there is far more light than dark. I started a vegan food blog, something I am passionate about and had been wanting to do for forever. I still can’t work, it’s something I’m working towards, and that’s pretty depressing, I’m 24 and can’t support myself. But a year and a half ago I had no passions, no interests, and no confidence to pursue anything anyway. I stared at a textured wallpaper wall. I was a pro at staring at that wall. Depression strips you of a future, you can only ever imagine the never ending, all consuming, sadness and anger. Now I can imagine and dream of a future again. So, I’m incredibly proud of how far I have come. I wouldn’t change it now.


If I could give one piece of advice it would be don’t listen to people when they tell you no one will love you until you love yourself. It’s bullshit. I didn’t love myself. Maybe you don’t love yourself, you and I still deserve love. We are still capable of loving someone and being loved, whether that be the love of family, friends, or a significant other. And through the other person’s eyes you will learn to love yourself, as I love myself now. Wow that is something I have never said… I love myself.

www.thedopeyvegan.com

Nick's Journey of starting Brighton Bricks - Meet the Live a Good Story Crowd

Since January we’ve been running two Live a Good Story groups, for people who are wanting to progress their stories, and turn their ambitions and ideas into a reality. With Brighton Festival now well and truly upon us, it’s been so positive to see some of the group expressing their creativity and progressing their journeys by being involved, or performing in their own shows. And with so much good stuff going on, we thought it’d be a great opportunity to introduce some of the Live a Good Story group and share a bit of what they’re up to.  

First up is Nick, who’s been working on his Brighton Bricks project. Brighton Bricks have their first ever Lego show on this Saturday 13th, so if you’re a Lego fan, do go and check it out. As part of the event Brighton Bricks are also giving the opportunity for people to donate old or new Lego to Brighton charity Rise, for children living at their refuge for survivors of domestic abuse.

Find out more about Brighton Bricks' Lego Show.

Here is Nick’s journey of setting up Brighton Bricks, with some sage advice sprinkled in, in his own words.

SYS: What is your story up to now and what are you're up to at the moment?

N: For the last few years I have been busy on social media as my alter ego Bright Green Penguin, and that is how I discovered Share Your Story....

SYS: Hang on, for the uninitiated, who is Bright Green Penguin?

N: Well this was my way of championing and connecting people, especially under the three 3 Cs - charity, creativity and community. So I tweeted about what great things people did, and tried to connect people where I can, hoping to raise awareness. I saw what Share Your Story was doing, and thought it was such a great idea but working in London I was never able to get to an event. I enjoyed being the Penguin, but I always felt a bit passive doing this, and wanted to do something more active, something which helps people. The issue I had was I didn't know what to do. So when I saw the Live A Good Story course, it really inspired me, as it meant sharing my ideas with other people, rather than just being a Twitter profile picture. That is what I wanted, to be in a group, the idea of attending monthly sessions - all things which would encourage me to take Bright Green Penguin to the next level.

SYS: And has the it been helpful? Where has this Brighton Bricks stuff come from?

N: The great thing about doing the course, is the fact it has helped me THINK, I know we think all the time, but really think about what I want to do, and how I can get there. My bigggest obstacle was Bright Green Penguin felt too wide spread, didn't have a niche, a hook I could develop, and being in the group, doing the excercises made me think. It made me consider what I really want to do, and in the background I had a Lego group for adults called Brighton Bricks, which has been going for the last 18 months or so, and just meeting monthly, but really developing. Then I realised I could use my ideas for Bright Green Penguin for the Lego group. The group didn't have to be just about building bricks on our own, but could mean building bricks for the community. And more and more I have been thinking I have been working out how I could develop Brighton Bricks.

SYS: And where do you hope Brighton Bricks will be in a few years?

N: My long term ambition for Brighton Bricks is for it to become something I could make a living out of. I want it to be something which involves the community, like the way our Lego show at Dice Saloon also has a charity donation element, where people can donate their old or new Lego to Rise, a local charity who deal with victims of domestic abuse. This Lego will go to their refuge, so the children have something to play with. I have ideas of doing workshops with local community groups, having team building events, having more and more exhibitions, having the bricks both be an opportunity and encouragement for people to play and be creative, as well as helping out with mental health issues, like how I find building Lego really helps with my anxiety.

SYS: Any advice for people who have an idea but unsure where to start?

N: The more I am thinking about Brighton Bricks, the more know I think of new ideas, and for me one of the struggles was having too many ideas. So what I do know, is brain storm and list lots of ideas, but then pick one, work on it, see if it has legs, set myself deadlines, speak to people, make it real (want to do an event - put date in the diary etc), as well as making sure I breakdown these ideas into small chunks so I know I can complete the tasks. I still enjoy Bright Green Penguin, but this course has made me realise, things can connect, and also you shouldn't feel bad for picking something which feels easy and fun, which is why I never thought too much about Brighton Bricks. It felt too much fun, and work should be hard!?

Cheers Nick – and good luck for the event!

For more information about the Live a Good Story group, and how to join future groups, head over to the Live a Good Story page.

Share Your Story: Adventures and Expeditions. A review. (words: Lucy Maddox, pictures: Cedar Shaw)

I was so pleased that I had powered through after a bit of a stressful day and made the journey from Bournemouth. Share Your Story events definitely have a community vibe and this night's event on adventure and expedition was attended by a good amount of like-minded people. We all squeezed into the relatively small space, many sitting on tables along the edge of the room, but everyone content and eager to hear tales from the night’s speakers.

Throughout the evening we travelled to Africa, the Arctic and the Amalfi Coast, and at times we weren’t allowed to know where we were going (big up to Unknown Epic and their creative business idea), and there were some clear threads that bound all the speakers together.

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes

Each of the speakers had done, and continue to do, some admittedly pretty epic stuff but it was reiterated several times that adventure has many guises. It can be as simple as walking out of your front door and waiting to see who you’ll bump into or jumping on a plane to some far-off land. As one of the speakers, Cedar, said: “with an inquisitive interest in the world you’re always going to have an adventure.”


For your own dream of adventure to come to pass it requires a level of passion and determination

What each of the speakers at the event has achieved did not come easily for any of them. Whether it be taking 20 months of planning for a one month trip, sowing the seeds of a business venture whilst working full-time and desperately seeking investment or persevering after a failed attempt to persuade governments that tourism is an important part of conservation, these individuals were driven to carry on through adversity by their passion and shared love of adventure.

Simplicity can result in a more satisfying life

A mutual love of nature definitely shone through in everyone on this particular evening and the realisation that getting back to basics can result in more peace, more joy and more satisfaction. What is evident about the Share Your Story community is that they are not afraid to challenge the status quo and live their lives by their own design rather than by the design of others. Sometimes less is more.

Adventure changes you

Adventure can be freeing and can help to shift and change your perspective on things, which was the most hopeful and powerful message of the evening. Don’t be afraid to go against others expectations because your unique adventures will grow you in all the right ways.

If ever you get the opportunity to go along and hear people’s stories at a Share Your Story event, I would recommend it. The events leave you with plenty to think about and a new community to be a part of.

Living a Good Story - the big and small pictures

With less than a week to go I’m feeling very excited about our Live a Good Story 2017 programme. But what do we mean when we say Live a Good Story? For us, it can be lived out in the big picture or on a very simple everyday level.

The Big Picture

Quite simply, on a broader level living a good story is about recognising that we are the authors in our own unfolding story and it is up to us whether we live out a good story, something worth sharing and talking about, or something that is far less satisfying. At our events and on our podcast we hear from people who have done all kinds of interesting and inspiring things – some of these are big things, some much smaller, but they have lived with an approach and an attitude that has made things happen. It might be a project they’ve started, a relationship they’ve invested in, a way they’ve responded to a challenge or difficulty or simply living with a lot of heart and love. We never wanted Share Your Story to just be about hearing good stories, but about encouraging people to go ahead and live a good story, in their own way, in their own context. This doesn’t mean doing something big or always succeeding, in fact, it may be doing something quiet and unseen or simply facing up to a big challenge. But it is about moving towards that thing, that approach, that posture.

At the start of a new year there is always much talk of new year’s resolutions. We know all the classics. But very often these ‘resolutions’ are left abandoned, a disappointing and possibly guilty weight that we leave behind somewhere before the middle of January. These ideas, our struggle to do the things we really want to, the collective (and very human) desire to live a better story and the desire for community led us to start Live a Good Story 2017. We have 9 people signed up so far, a lovely little group of fellow travellers, each very different but each on the path to living a better story. This Saturday we’ll join together for a day workshop as we consider the key elements that make a good story and what they mean for our lives:

-          Facing up to a challenge.

-          Changing for the better.

-          Making a difference in the world.

-          Involving other people.

-          Achieving something real.

After the all day workshop we’ll meet monthly for coffee to support, encourage, dream, plan and have some accountability about where we’re at on the path. It will be interesting, inspiring, reflective, challenging and a lot of fun. We’re looking forward to getting started. But while we’re thinking about the big picture, living a good story can also be lived out on a much smaller level...

The Small Picture

My wife drew this for me after so that I wouldn't forget to live by it... It sits next to my bed now.

My wife drew this for me after so that I wouldn't forget to live by it... It sits next to my bed now.

A few years ago I was in Holland with some friends walking alongside a canal in the countryside and we came across a group of teenagers and young students jumping in from the bridge. It was a hot day and it looked like a lot of fun. But I didn’t have anything to swim in or a towel, I didn’t know any of the people jumping and it felt like as a grown-up I should probably be beyond this… In a very classically ‘me’ move, I decided that it wasn’t practical to join in, and besides it was easier not to.

I’d spent the last few weeks thinking (and talking to anyone who would listen) about the idea of living a good story, and my wife took this opportunity to shoot me with my own gun. “What’s the better story here”? There was only one answer. Instead of this day being a pleasant but forgettable one I’ve instead got a treasured memory of great fun and living the better story. I stripped down to my boxers and, joined by one of my friends, jumped into the Canal from the (deceptively high) bridge. It was as it looked – great fun and refreshing, and it also made a connection with some local people who I would never have met otherwise. I spent the next twenty minutes jumping in and clambering my way back up the wooden bridge to do it all again.

Other people smiled and laughed as they walked past. Doubtless some of them wished they could join in too but had a reason not to. And I had a great time.

It would have been easier to walk past. But that would have been the end of it. Asking the question ‘what’s the better story here?’ can be a useful tool in the day to day. Does the story go better with walking past that homeless guy you see everyday or with sitting down with him over a coffee? Is it a better story to go to that new class, or start learning that new skill, or to buy that new instrument or with deciding that it’s easier not to? Does the character in the better story pursue the love of their life, or remain silent in hope something pans out somehow?

We make some big decisions in life, but much more often we make lots of small decisions. So I’d encourage you, next time you aren’t sure what to do, or you do want to do something and that part of you says ‘it’s easier not to’, ask yourself the question – which of these is the better story?

----------------------------

Live a Good Story starts this Saturday 7th January, 9.30am at the Happy Startup School in Brighton. There are still 3 spaces available and it’s not too late to sign up. Will you join us and take the next step in living a good story?

Live a Good Story 2017 - Meet Emma

Next year we are gathering a small band of fellow travellers to journey through the year together as we seek to each live a good story in our own lives. To give you an idea of who will be joining us on the journey we're sharing their stories to date and their hopes for what's ahead. This week we're hearing from Emma, who signed up a couple of weeks ago. Will you join her, and us, on this adventure?

Tell us a bit about you: 

I'm someone that has always been very dissatisfied and unimpressed with how this modern world works. Privilege, economics, power, nepotism, narcissism and exploitation winning against those who live on the opposite spectrum, by opposite standards. I am someone that will always stand up to injustice and fight, even when it feels like you're banging your head against a brick wall. I live by my ethics, passions and my politics as much as modern day society will allow me to. I work only for charities that strive to support and empower vulnerable and marginalised groups of people. But this could equally be expanded to sustainable environmental organisations/ social enterprises or arts based organisations that use creativity to generate socio-political impact and change. They are all equal passions and interests. I've spent a very long time being angry at capitalism and the government, only recently realising that the only person it was hurting was myself. The last two years has been an incredible journey of self-awareness, away from negative patterns of self-harm and towards reflection, self re-evaluation, motivation, and attempting to finally realise my potential and confidence. It's a long and frustrating road, but I know I am heading in the right direction.

How do you envision your story unfolding in 2017? What are your hopes and what challenges might you face? If you don't fully know it's totally fine, just give us a guess...: 

I am passionate about tackling food waste and reducing household consumer waste and want to set up an unpackaged grocery shop/ cycle delivery service.

I want to encourage people to make their own furniture/ sculpture/ accessories out of reclaimed materials, and remind them that not everything has to be bought brand new from non-renewable, unsustainable, unethical resources. I especially want to start crafting my own pieces out of reclaimed wood.

I believe in like-minded groups of people coming together to effect humanitarian or environmental change, either locally or overseas. In particular, this would involve changing the perceptions of some communities who hold a much more conservative, xenophobic or culturally ignorant mind-set. (Welcoming refugees into the UK for example is very much at the forefront of my thinking and enabling communities to understand the positive benefits this would bring)

I want to one day stand up in public and perform my own spoken word poetry and/or sing in a band, and encourage others to do the same.

Overall, I want to overcome my deep-set, deeply ingrained fear of failure.

What do you hope to get out of being part of the group?: 

Sharing of ideas, connections, networks, reflection, motivation, pro-activism, development, personal growth, learning from mistakes, understanding of how ideas and projects grow, confidence, how to write a project plan, how to launch a project, an opportunity to be part of helping someone else realise their dream, new friends with depth, resolve and passion.

-----

Whatever your journey, whatever your story, if you want to join a group of like minded individuals all wanting to move forward positively in their life then why not join us for Live a Good Story 2017

First Summer of Better Stories Grant...

Delighted to start sharing stories from our Summer of Better Stories micro-grant programme with Upstream Ideas. Applications are still very much open, so please do apply and take the first step in your own story now. Head to our Summer of Better Stories page to learn more.

Our first award goes to Emily, read on to learn a bit about her and what she'll be using her £50 for.

SYS: Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Emily: Hello. I am 32, have lived in Brighton for 2 years, prior to which I have adventured extensively, returning back to the UK from 6 years in South Africa to start a Masters. I am also an artist and musician and have just released my first track with band Fresh School Buddha

SYS: What would you like to use the £50 for? Who will benefit from it - it could be just you or other people:

Emily: I have just finished my degree and feel a desperate need to reconnect with visual art. In the past I have focused on sculpture, creating large pieces of work based around bodies and the spaces between us. I am keen to reconsider the medium of painting, having recently dabbled a couple of times I feel it will be hugely therapeutic for me to apply myself to this medium. I hope to buy an easel with the funds, and generally like painting on found objects and waste! (such as off cuts of plaster board..) It will be just me who benefits, (well I guess those around me to as I will be in better spirits! and they can see the work!) Longer term, if I am any good, or have enough confidence, I would love to work towards an exhibition, maybe next years open houses.

SYS: How does it fit into your story or what story are you starting here? (It could be just your story or include other people's stories too):

Emily: I have worked in some really challenging environments and at time felt as though my wings have been clipped and I need to stretch out and remember the other elements of my identity. I feel that the use of an easel will help with this, letting me unleash the thoughts and feelings that are muddling about inside me. I did an undergrad in creative expressive therapies and have the utmost respect for the power of arts for personal transformation, so I hope to transform.

-------

We're so glad to be able to help out Emily, and hope to help out lots more people in the coming weeks and months, as well as following up on hearing on how some of these stories unfold as time goes on. Why not head over to our website to apply for your own micro-grant and start living a better story today...

We want your input on Share Your Story's future. Let us buy you a coffee.

Hi. Dave here. 

We've been so pleased with how Share Your Story has taken shape since our first event back in September. With generous funding from Upstream Ideas we've been able to hear from some amazing speakers without having to charge a set price for the events, making the evenings as accessible as possible. We definitely plan to continue running these events on the same basis and are so pleased with how they are going.

Inevitably at each of the evenings those of us organising are always busy making sure that everything is running smoothly and trying to balance lots of different tasks. We manage to grab at brief conversations and often have lovely more in-depth ones in the pub afterwards. But we're aware that there is a fantastic community of people emerging who have come along to our events and we'd love the chance to sit down with you, get to know you a little bit and hear from you.

Looking ahead there are so many possibilities of how Share Your Story could move forward. The team of us running the evenings have floated all kinds of ideas and we regularly get excited about different potential projects but ultimately we want Share Your Story to be shaped by it's community so that we can have the most positive possible impact on those who come along. It'd be be helpful to know why you come along to the events, what you get out of them and if they've spurred you to action. We'd also like to talk to you about some of the ideas we've had, whether you think they're actually any good or not and whether you could envision them being of interest to you/others.

We did talk about sending out a online questionnaire but it felt too impersonal and we really want this to be a 2-way interaction and building on personal relationships, hence the invite for a coffee/tea. You'll probably be meeting me but it may also be another member of the Share Your Story team depending on availability and the kind of uptake we get on this. 

We are a friendly and laid-back bunch, so don't be nervous or intimidated about signing up. At the very least you'll hopefully make a positive new connection and enjoy a delicious free drink. But this is also an opportunity to input into some exciting and innovative projects and shape something that could make a positive difference in the lives of lots of people across the city. Please don't hesitate to sign up, we don't want to be just another group putting on events, we want to be a community of people living good stories together.

To sign up to have a coffee simply click here to get through to our Doodle schedule and choose a time that suits you. If none of the times suit you then send us an email at shryrstry@gmail.com and we can try and arrange something else.

This whole process might feel a bit out of the ordinary, but that's exactly how we want to do things :-) Look forward to meeting you soon.

Shirley's thoughts on Share Your Story Migration event

After our event on Wednesday 9th on Migration we're looking to hear people's thoughts and reflections on the evening. Over the next couple of weeks we'll be sharing those thoughts, which have come from people who came along to the evening as well as a couple of the speakers. If you'd like to contribute your thoughts post on our Facebook page or send us an email at shryrstry@gmail.com and we'll get them posted up.

Shirley O'Toole's thoughts:

We did not attend with any pre-conceived ideas about Migration other than what we had seen on the new and in papers It was heartfelt to listen to real stories from real people who had first hand experience of the terror of living in their own country What came across was plain - these people DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE THEIR COUNTRY, they do not want to come to a place that is alien nor leave the people they love and care for the most, but sheer terror has driven them out to all of our shores. When they finally do get here after spending hours in the sea, they arrive at camps which are based on the old prison system. We heard that before undertaking such a journey they stood and watched people they knew have their heads chopped off for standing up against what was happening in their country.

I cannot even begin to imagine, to hear a person explain that they stood upright in the back of a lorry up to their neck in flour, being told that they only had to be in there for 2 hours only to end up being in there for 7 hours and banging on the door of the lorry stating that they could no longer stay inside as they were going to die and being told to shut up and keep quiet and then, after paying the driver, not ending up in the place they paid to go to, left us thinking of how we could help? We thank god that we live in this country, free from oppression but we have to address the waste in countries and try and help those who do not have the same privileges.

Adam's thoughts on Share Your Story Migration event

After our event on Wednesday 9th on Migration we're looking to hear people's thoughts and reflections on the evening. Over the next couple of weeks we'll be sharing those thoughts, which have come from people who came along to the evening as well as a couple of the speakers. If you'd like to contribute your thoughts post on our Facebook page or send us an email at shryrstry@gmail.com and we'll get them posted up.

Adam Bates' thoughts:

After the astounding final talk, I approached him to thank him. I was keen to hear what gave him such resilience and kept him through his unimaginable ordeal. He said his determination never diminished because he has family still suffering back home who want to see him again one day.

It made me realise that if he can be so stoic despite suffering hell on earth for the last five years, then the spiral towards helplessness regarding the refugee crisis isn't warranted. What I'm thinking and feeling is comparatively nothing and I owe it to the thousands like him to never give up.

I'm starting a project that acts as a central location for raw videos recorded by volunteers on the ground. I'm looking for help from the kind of people who are yearning to get involved, but are tied down with commitments at home, but still wish to help somehow. If you can use a computer then you're qualified to help. Please get in touch at A.L.Bates@hotmail.com. I'd like to get in touch with any Arabic, Pashto and Farsi speakers as well.

Looking forward to hearing what other people took away from another incredible Share Your Story evening. Thanks again to Dave and Cedar for making it happen.

Dave S' thoughts on Share Your Story Migration event

After our event on Wednesday 9th on Migration we're looking to hear people's thoughts and reflections on the evening. Over the next couple of weeks we'll be sharing those thoughts, which have come from people who came along to the evening as well as a couple of the speakers. If you'd like to contribute your thoughts post on our Facebook page or send us an email at shryrstry@gmail.com and we'll get them posted up.

Dave steell's thoughts:

It was a profound subject and one that we need to give as much oxygen to as possible. In one sense there was nothing very new shared, we all know the system as it currently stands is inhumane, ineffective and unsustainable, but to hear stories that were so real and from so close to the source was a distinct reminder that we are all implicated in this mess and we are all compelled to play a role in being part of the the solution and not just remain silently complicit. I'll personally be looking at what I might do as well as encouraging the One Church community to do the same (although many already are). Thanks again, please keep doing what you're doing.

Ben's thoughts on Share Your Story Migration event

After our event on Wednesday 9th on Migration we're looking to hear people's thoughts and reflections on the evening. Over the next couple of weeks we'll be sharing those thoughts, which have come from people who came along to the evening as well as a couple of the speakers. If you'd like to contribute your thoughts post on our Facebook page or send us an email at shryrstry@gmail.com and we'll get them posted up.

Ben Szobody's thoughts:

We seem to be caught between two migration systems -- the stern, arbitrary, official one and the illicit, exploitative, shadowy one -- and both of them are profoundly dehumanising to the people involved, as systems often are. In this context, personal stories seem especially moving and apropos. I was struck by the way in which such systems especially fail women, children, the innocent and the vulnerable. I was inspired by the repeated observation that personal encounters change hearts. And I find it unfathomable that the very countries participating in the military chaos driving these mass migrations can be so slow to accept responsibility for the humans arriving at our doorstep. I hope these stories drive action.

We'd love to hear YOUR thoughts...

Hello lovely Share Your Story friends. We loved gathering with you all on Wednesday night - I found it to be a profoundly challenging, unsettling but encouraging evening, which is quite amazing when you think about the heaviness about some of the things shared. I'll write more about that in the coming days.

We're looking to kick the blog into action a little bit, to help keep the conversations flowing a little. Tish posted this on our Facebook account on Wednesday evening:

"Thank you for a truly inspirational evening. I feel quite overwhelmed and I'm sure it will take me a few days to digest everything that everyone shared - the stories, the emotions, the energy. I feel raw as if my insides have been shaken around, I'm intrigued to see what my realisations will be when everything settles back into place. I wonder if anyone else feels the same...? xx"

Jack Ahmad sharing on the evening

Jack Ahmad sharing on the evening

For one thing, I feel the same and I'm sure many others do too. It feels like we experienced something amazing and moving, but I'm aware from my own experience that it is easy to let it just be a story and that's all - the reality of it can drift away somehow. 

So I'd like to invite you to continue the conversation here as part of our blog. We would LOVE to hear your thoughts. It might be one sentence, one paragraph or something a lot longer. It might be your reflections on one (or more than one) of the speakers or a conversation or chain of thought that have come out of the evening. It might be your workings out, or it might be that you feel like some answers are starting to take shape. Your writing might be incredible or terrible, eloquent or clunky but that doesn't matter, I just think it can be helpful to think this stuff out a little. So we would LOVE it if you would consider writing something for us.

You can submit it to us at shryrstry@gmail.com (that's share your story without the vowels if you're confused!) or it's perhaps even easier to share it with us via facebook from where we can post it to our blog.

I've asked the speakers if they'd share a little of their thoughts, I'll be posting mine but we'd love to hear from you. Thanks all, looking forward to seeing what comes forward.

Dave

Photo taken from @bn1Community on Twitter