Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week, a time dedicated to shining a spotlight on and raising awareness about the significance of mental wellbeing. This year’s theme is anxiety, and we’ll be sharing some stories and experiences from young people in Islington who are benefitting from transformative local programmes. Here, we caught up with four young people* who took part in The Stuart Low Trust (SLT) Nature programme and Art workshops.
Joseph’s story – overcoming loneliness and anxiety
“Attending the nature visits has helped a lot with my loneliness and anxiety. I’ve become more confident and find social situations easier to cope with.” ~ Joseph, Stuart Low Trust, Nature programme participant
Joseph describes his experience of attending The Stuart Low Trust Nature programme:
“I started attending the Nature outings and have been going on different visits once or twice a month. I wanted to meet new people and be involved in some activities. I wanted to keep busy and do something different. I enjoy interacting with people the most.
Attending the nature visits has helped a lot with my loneliness and anxiety. I’ve become more confident and find social situations easier to cope with. I have met lots of new people and have become more independent too. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming, and I feel a sense of belonging to a community. I like connecting and interacting with others, having cups of tea and chatting at the end of the visits. I like seeing the staff and volunteers too as they are very friendly.
Sometimes I find it hard to go because I am feeling low, but I always feel better for going along. I feel safe at the activities and feel better for connecting with others.”
Samina’s story – Breaking down isolation
“I value the nature sessions as it breaks the isolation which is the main reason for my depression.” ~ Samina, Stuart Low Trust, Nature programme participant
Samina describes his experience of attending The Stuart Low Trust Nature programme:
“I attended some SLT activities before lockdown. I then started again when face to face activities returned. I mostly take part in the Nature outings to Camley Street Natural Park and occasionally the Estorick Art workshops.
I value the nature sessions as it breaks the isolation which is the main reason for my depression. It helps to have some regular activities to look forward to.
The biggest thing I value about SLT activities is interacting with other people. There is no judgement from the staff. I enjoy learning about nature and having regular face to face activities.”
Ray’s story – Feeling more involved in the community
“Everything changes in life and it’s not always easy to acknowledge – illness, grief, loss of control creeps into your once contented life.” ~ Ray, Stuart Low Trust, Art workshops participant
Ray describes his experience of attending The Stuart Low Trust Art workshops:
“I attended the art sessions held at the Estorick Gallery which is held fortnightly. We have attended every art session since joining.
Everything changes in life and it’s not always easy to acknowledge – illness, grief, loss of control creeps into your once contented life. The changes and loneliness it brings are hard to forget.
Taking part in the art classes has helped me feel more involved. Socialising is so important as it encourages communication and laughter. I enjoy the journey to the venue, the cup of tea in the cafe, meeting our Estorick workshop facilitator and hopefully his volunteers, seeing cheerful faces making conversation and eventually into the gallery to do some art.”
Carlita’s story – A renewed a sense of purpose
“I feel that SLT’s approach is truly unique. One of the great strengths of SLT is that it removes the barriers to engagement”. ~ Carlita, Stuart Low Trust, Art workshops participant
Carlita describes his experience of attending The Stuart Low Trust Art workshops:
“The main activity that I regularly take part in is the SLT Art Workshop at the Estorick Collection. It is held twice a month and I generally book on each workshop.
I had been in poor health and was feeling low. Attending the talks/ workshops gave me back a sense of purpose. It was great to engage with others, who were experiencing similar challenges and from then on I started to sign up for more activities with SLT.
Taking part in SLT activities has inspired my creativity, has fed into my sense of independence, has raised my self-confidence and self-esteem and promoted my self-advocacy. I feel that SLT’s approach is truly unique. One of the great strengths of SLT is that it removes the barriers to engagement. I have always felt valued as a participant at SLT and, as a result, I’ve found a creative outlet that has really made a difference to my quality of life.”
About Stuart Low Trust:
Stuart Low was a young man from Islington with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, who sadly took his own life- aged 27. He couldn’t find the right support at the right time when he needed it most. Stuart’s death mobilised local residents to create SLT in 1999. SLT supports isolated Islington residents to connect through up to 200 free nature, art and wellbeing activities each year. *Names have been changed to protect identity.
Featured image: Body & Soul / Xuan Loc Xuan
Did you know that we are raising funds for incredible services and projects like the Stuart Low Trust to help young people in Islington access the care and support they need? Every donation, however small, will make a real difference.