Making people feel welcome and relaxed at our venue is one of our priorities, for everyone who walks through the door. INTRA is a place to escape to, somewhere safe that makes you feel more like yourself and allows you to reset or get respite from the world. We’re certain of the important roles that art and kindness play in tackling health and wellbeing challenges, as we see this at work every day.
This was one of the reasons that we started our ‘Wave’ arts club for young people aged 15 to 24 who are at raised risk of suicide. We provide a safe space for young people with suicidal thoughts, or who are self harming, to socialise and feel understood. The activities they do are a lot of fun and something to focus on, but its the time they spend together ‘feeling normal for a couple of hours’, as they describe it, that is most important. Creative activities just make that easier.
We are hugely grateful to our two funders – Kent & Medway Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), and Rochester Riverside Community Board. In October 2019 they awarded us funding to run Wave for another year, and for us to make links with and take learnings from related groups. In August 2020 we received funding a third time from Kent & Medway STP Saving Lives Suicide Prevention Innovation Fund, awarded as part of their Legacy Fund, and this will take our project through to March 2021. Saving Lives was set up to support new or emerging programmes designed to prevent suicides, save lives and reduce self-harm across Kent & Medway. The funded projects will contribute to the overall Kent & Medway STP aim of reducing suicide rates by 10% by 2021.
The group has felt quite a sense of achievement from screen printing T-shirts with their own designs, making vinyl sticker drawings for a high street window display, and creating zines on all sorts of topics. But there’s no pressure to do any particular activity, and the group can request art supplies and equipment to be whisked out of cupboards for them to get creative with however they like. We have a tablet on hand to play music, and the group members line up the songs they want to play and save them to a Wave playlist. And they chat, with topics sometimes touching on their more difficult experiences, but often it’ll be about Disneyland, politics, horses, skateboarding or tattoos.
In the photo below you can see we’ve been playing with thermochromic inks that change colour with heat. We love it when the group requests things like this. Recently they went mad on shrink plastic, making it into jewellery – many pieces including mental health messages and reminders for self care.
If you or someone you know would benefit from joining Wave, please get in touch. Anyone based in Kent, aged 15 – 24, and who is at risk of suicide or self harming is welcome to join us. They can be referred by a parent, friend, care professional, or themselves. There’s a simple form to fill in (mostly contact details, food preferences / allergies, and basic details of any conditions they have if they want to share this), and on returning that to us they’ll be sent dates for the group. We meet twice monthly, one evening and one weekend day.
Also please get in touch if you run something along similar lines with young people, we’d love to hear from you.
Please email Xtina at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to Rochester Riverside for the write up about Wave on their website.