In September 2015, following an exciting and informative planning meeting, Apax staff and residents attended the Lewisham Mental Health Conference 2015, an event co-sponsored by Equinox Lewisham and Quo Vadis Trust.
The conference was a huge success, with nearly 200 people coming together to share experiences of mental health, partake in workshops, discuss ideas, and to offer each other support. Attendees included a mix of service users, carers, professionals, councillors, community groups and local people.
Throughout the day, speakers from various organisations addressed delegates on subjects including mental ill health, recovery and caring, which were a big hit with everyone. The interactive workshops were also very popular and included sessions from SIRS and JCP on benefits and ETE for those with mental health needs; a MindKit young people’s wellbeing and resilience session; and an empowerment and self-esteem session by Quo Vadis Trust, to name a few.
Our staff and residents particularly enjoyed two workshops: one run by The Reader Organisation, an award-winning social enterprise, which believes that the power of shared reading can result in helping individuals to make changes to how they feel about themselves and how they relate to others. The other workshop focused on individuality and creativity and was coordinated by the Arts Network. Attendees were encouraged to explore their creative sides in the ‘Art & Self-Expression Zone’. Our staff and residents were able to relax, learn new creative skills and talk about mental health in a calm and supportive environment.
A good day was had by all, with many finding the topics covered by the organisers valuable, educational and inspiring. We were pleased to see that our input at the planning stage was welcomed and appreciated and we hope to be even more involved next time, with our staff and residents co-producing some informative and motivating workshops of their own.
This is such a fantastic event for raising awareness and educating people on mental health; the success stories are a true inspiration to many and it felt very empowering to be a part of something that can prove to be so life-changing. We are keen to implement our learnings from the 2015 conference sessions and look forward to taking part in a bigger 2016 conference later in the year!