Well, hello again, and a very happy Pride month to you all. Hasn’t this month just been glorious!? I know us Brits are renowned for talking about the weather and (more often than not) complaining that it’s never quite right, but I’ve actually found these past four weeks to be the weather of my dreams. I love the sun and especially like being able to sit out in it, at home or on the beach and not feel chilly when catching the breeze. I do like a breeze, especially when it is dry heat like this, but I am also ridiculously quick to feel the cold, so this has been perfect conditions for me… warm in the shade, just like being abroad! How have you been finding this heat? Have you managed to get yourself a fan to help you survive the inevitable heatwaves? And are you a fan-off or fan-on for sleep kind of person? I know that keeping cool and getting a good night’s sleep can be really tricky, so do take a look at www.goodto.com for some tips and tricks to try if you’re struggling.
Just a brief update on my role for anyone currently going through the Programme. I’ve recently taken a step back from the Wellbeing Coach role to focus on more creative pursuits at home and to spend more time with my family. I am, however, continuing to write blog posts for Inside Isorropia and will be helping the Media team create posts to go out across the social media platforms. I will also occasionally be supporting the team in workshops throughout the busy summer holiday period and any other times when cover is required. I look forward to reconnecting with some of you face-to-face really soon.
It has been busy, busy on the Wellbeing Programme this month with lots of workshops happening and members graduating following The Gift. Many of our Wellbeing Coaches have been undertaking training in the delivery of The Gift Foundation Course. I always think it’s so interesting how different coaches deliver things in their own special way, bringing a unique touch of personality mixed with appropriate elements of lived experience. This is what we feel works so well at Isorropia Foundation when we work with our members; we are able to offer educational content around wellbeing alongside the rawer, more personal stuff, which helps to foster a great sense of trust and empathy between the members and our team.
Here’s a thought for our Graduate Members – What key parts of your Gift experience stand out in your memory now, and how do you feel your facilitators contributed to any takeaway messages you carry with you still today? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments…
National Volunteers Week
As is the case every year, the 1st-7th of June was National Volunteers’ Week.
This was the perfect time for us to shine a light on the vast benefits of becoming a volunteer, the diverse range of opportunities out there for people wanting to offer their time to volunteering, and is also a time for organisations to pay tribute to and offer thanks to their loyal volunteers. It is something that I first became aware of when I was training to be a volunteer with Homestart back in 2018 (find out more about my own volunteering journey in an upcoming post on charities).
We are so thankful to all our existing volunteers and new mentors who are such a valued part of the Isorropia team. Due to some organisational changes, this Volunteer’s Week has fallen during a time of transition for our volunteers. We acknowledge the strength and resilience they have shown throughout their time with us so far and look forward to seeing them continue to grow and thrive.
Volunteering offers a fantastic platform for personal growth and positive change; this holds true regardless of how many hours you give or what skills and attributes you offer. Each and every volunteer has something special to bring, and we are so lucky to benefit from ours.
If you are considering taking up volunteering with us in the future, then you will be happy to hear about some very exciting new opportunities coming up soon. Keep an eye on our social media platforms for further details on this, and Isorropia members will also be kept updated via our monthly newsletter, ‘The Navigator’. Please do take a look back at May’s blog post for local Island opportunities for volunteering if you’re eager to get started right away. There you will find a link to the wonderful ‘Isle of Wight Volunteer Centre’ website. So many great opportunities; check it now, as I wouldn’t want you to miss out!
Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering has so many benefits, but the resounding thing we have found within the team here is that it was through volunteering that we were able to get back into employment following periods of ill health. Having mentioned to the team about the significance of Volunteers’ Week and wanting to mark it in some way, I was delighted to be able to share with you some of the stories of how volunteering has helped us to get to where we are today both professionally and in terms of our own feeling of wellness.
The Isorropia Team’s Volunteering Stories
Becky – Wellbeing Coach
Becky volunteered within NHS Secondary Care, having spent a period of time as a service user. Becky was initially invited to sit on interview panels, sharing her thoughts on potential new staff members from the valuable point of view of a service user. Following this, Becky began co-facilitating group sessions alongside a mental health nurse. Both opportunities helped Becky’s self-esteem to grow and her mental health to improve.
Ultimately, Becky successfully gained employment within the NHS, having been out of work for many years. Volunteering had left her feeling able to push herself out of her comfort zone in an environment where she felt valued, safe and supported:
“I hadn’t worked for years so was incredibly nervous. The staff and manager were so kind and were really keen to hear my feedback on the interviewees. I felt really included and part of a team for the first time in years. I felt my self-esteem grow where there had been none for a long time. I enjoyed it so much. 6 months of volunteering gave me the confidence I needed to get back into work. Volunteering saved my life I’m sure of that, it’s one of the best and most scary decisions I’ve ever made and I’m so glad that I did!”Becky Grice-McGrath
Tom – Supporter Relations Lead
Tom credits volunteering as a major part of his personal recovery journey. Like Becky, Tom also volunteered within the NHS initially, following a 4-year period as a service user. Tom began by offering his time: 2-3 hours, a couple of times a week, before taking on the role of Volunteer Service User Representative. Through this role he met Isorropia Foundation’s CEO Vicki Haworth and was subsequently invited to join Isorropia as a volunteer.
“I wasn’t sure I was up to the role (self-confidence and self-esteem still at the ‘work in progress’ stage!) but I came to see what Isorropia did and meet the team. I knew I wanted to get involved somehow. It felt special and in tune with my own values around wellbeing. Volunteering led to me getting the brilliant job I have now. I no longer require medication; and my life is full of family, friends, hobbies and soul-nourishing wellbeing.
Volunteering was one of the essential stepping stones to overall wellbeing. Without it, I wouldn’t have become the whole, healthy, happy person I am today. At the time I saw it as giving my time and skills for the benefit of others – which it was – but I also gained massively from the experience on a personal level too. As the expression goes: ‘it is in the giving that we receive’.”Tom Ferguson
Charlie – Deputy Lead
After two bouts in recovery from drug misuse, Charlie began volunteering for Isorropia Foundation, which eventually led to employment as a Wellbeing Coach, gradually moving upwards into his current role as joint Deputy Lead, working alongside Natalie Streets.
“Volunteering for Isorropia allowed for me to build my confidence around full-time work at my own pace, and it’s only thanks to this opportunity that I eventually got given the opportunity to join as a member of our wonderful team.”Charlie Stevens
June – Administration Lead
June currently volunteers for Beavers when her son attends, usually supporting on walks. In September, June hopes to transition with her son up to Cubs and continue offering her time and energy for this brilliant cause. Previously, June volunteered in her local community, at Sunday School and Church Choir for a few years when her daughter was involved. June arranged drinks and biscuits for everyone, which I am sure was always hugely appreciated!
“I wasn’t unwell, yet I had gone through a tough time with my ex-partner and the comradery of this volunteering and having a purpose to do good (as my job was a nightmare at the time!) was really felt to give me good vibes and made me feel I was worth something again.”June Kinnair
Lisa – 16-25 Transition Co-ordinator
Lisa volunteered for the Richmond Fellowship as a support worker until this organisation underwent operational changes, re-opening as Safe Haven. Lisa played a big part in helping to design the service crisis team and, subsequently, Isorropia Foundation.
“On returning to my wellness, I volunteered for Richmond Fellowship, Safe Haven and Isorropia Foundation. This gave me an opportunity to get into my wellness quicker.”Lisa Fennessy
It’s a Process
One thing I will say is that no matter how ready we may feel to get back to work after illness, it isn’t always that simple. I know that following my own spell of psychotherapy and group work with CMHT I felt absolutely ready and quite impatient to get started back on a career path of some description. It took me several more years and various different volunteering opportunities before the timing was right, and I eventually found ‘my place’ with Isorropia Foundation. I personally believe that things happen in perfect timing, and with a more spiritual approach to life now, that everything happens for a reason. I do, however, struggle when I can’t quite see or understand what those reasons might be, but I try to take comfort in ‘trusting the process’. I’d love to know where you stand on this. Are you a believer in allowing things to unfold at their natural pace, or do you like to grab the reins and make things happen? What do you think are the benefits, if any, of both approaches?
“To trust the process means to know and have faith that there is a divine plan moving through you and your life in any moment.”Connie Chapman
If any of you reading this now, graduates or non-members, are thinking back to a time when you have volunteered, we’d love to hear about it. What one thing has been the biggest benefit to you since you began volunteering? Or are you someone thinking that volunteering might be something you’d like to dip your toes into and that now might be the perfect time? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We love finding out how members have been keeping busy since graduation and are always eager to know what else is going on in the Island community. Imagine how many people you could inspire by sharing your story.
Update on Community
With a touch of nostalgia, we bid farewell to a few of our cherished social groups that concluded their journeys this past month. Vicky-Shaw Yates (Community Co-ordinator) will, however, be continuing to explore options to find and access specific, funded community groups for our members, such as the hugely successful Fishing Group that is currently taking place, courtesy of Black Rock Fishing Charters.
These changes have occurred following extensive engagement events and feedback forums with members, graduates, volunteers, and our team. We are confident that our new approach will give more consistency and reliability. Additionally, these changes will create closer links with our local areas and communities.
Our New Approach to Activity Groups
- Our member’s voices will lead our approach, and we will achieve this through a variety of engagement forums.
- We recognise that having social and activity groups are a fundamental need, and we will be investing our time into finding funding to facilitate these groups consistently and reliably.
- Some groups will be time-limited to ensure that as many people have the opportunity to experience them.
- Wellbeing days will become bigger and better. They will include our Island Community and will offer opportunities to link in with already established activity groups from across the Island. There will also be top-up sessions and a range of new activities!
The non-funded groups led by volunteers, including our sewing group and pain management group, will be moving into a new era whereby they are self-sufficient. The team at Isorropia continue to be excited and optimistic for the volunteers and members who have made these groups the wonderful spaces they have become, and we look forward to hearing all about what they are up to as they continue to grow in strength, confidence and numbers going forwards. You’ve got this peeps, so just keep going and do us, and yourselves, proud!
If any graduate members need more clarity around these changes, please check our Navigator newsletter for June via the closed ‘Isorropia Foundation Community’ Facebook page or by requesting a paper copy from the duty team on (01983) 217791. The same number applies to anybody curious about what we do here at Isorropia and all those wanting to work on improving their wellbeing (Isle of Wight residents only, I’m afraid). We have no waiting list and are eager to get you on board. Just think where you could be by the end of the summer! There’s no time like the present to make that call or drop us an email at email@example.com.
That’s all for now from Inside Isorropia, so have yourselves a lovely time in the sunshine, don’t forget your sunscreen and remember to keep hydrated.
Have fun and take care out there,
Back at the start of May, the weather appeared to be dragging itself incredibly slowly into Spring which was such a shame. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in feeling the need for jumpers and even coats too which seemed to be required far later into the year than usual. This past week May has finally brightened up with more warmth and more sunshine; goodness knows we needed it!
With this being our first year here at Medina Valley Centre, we are seeing and experiencing all that nature has to offer around the site with fresh eyes and no preconceived ideas or expectations. I’m sure you are all aware that April-May is bluebell season here in the UK. My favourite way to enjoy bluebells is in woodland, where the flowers create a beautiful, blue carpet; a magical, breathtaking sight, and almost other-worldly. Here on the Isle of Wight, I believe there are a few good spots to enjoy bluebells; the only place I’ve actually been to is Mottistone Manor, a National Trust property near Brighstone. I recall the Bluebells did not disappoint! I eagerly awaited their appearance here at MVC and, whilst they did put on a show, my photos sadly never seem to do justice to nature! If you’ve seen any beautiful bluebells whilst out and about on the Island or further afield, please do share in the comments. I fear it may be too late, but if you’re on the Island, why not get yourself down to Mottistone Manor and see if you can catch their bluebells before they disappear for another year?! (www.nationaltrust.uk)
We have had a quieter month in the community here at Isorropia Foundation but that’s not to say the organisation wasn’t busy doing other things. We held our first fully funded public Gift Course which was a lovely opportunity to show the wider Island community the amazing work we do day in and day out with our members. There will be more fully funded workshops taking place in the coming months so keep an eye on our social media pages to ensure you don’t miss out. This month also saw our first ‘after-hours’ workshop, a new initiative to ensure we are better supporting our members who have employment or caring responsibilities and those juggling the demands of childcare.
One of the most delightful things I’ve seen since my last blog post was the Mellow Mondays group which is funded and run by Gift to Nature. Members were invited to an outdoors session here at MVC where they could create a hanging basket made entirely from natural materials. The end results are so unique and so pretty, each containing a little strawberry plant which, weather permitting, should thrive and provide an abundance of fruit. How lovely is that…all taking place within our beautiful setting, with the wonderful sound of birds all around and views of the river to boot! Bird identification cards were also provided (see photo at the top of this post), making the session informative as well as productive and fun 🙂
Did any of you manage to listen to the Island Stories podcast earlier this month when our CEO, Vicki Haworth, was featured? I’d highly recommend a listen. You can follow @islandstoriespodcast on Instagram. CLICK HERE to listen to Vicki’s episode.
“We are that bridge between someone seeing their GP and feeling like things are going downhill but not actually quite needing to be on medication…we are there to try and prevent people from becoming more unwell.”Vicki Haworth
The Big Help Out
How did you all spend the Coronation weekend? Did you do anything memorable with the extra bank holiday? King Charles III planned for it to be a day for ‘giving back’ to communities in some way, and it has been reported that 6 million people got involved! The campaign is ongoing, so why not check out www.thebighelpout.org.uk if you’d like to find out more; ‘Lend a hand. Make a change.’
“Your purpose in life is to use your gifts and talents to help others. Your journey in life teaches you how to do that.”Tom Krause
Volunteering is something we in the field of mental health recovery are very passionate about. As a team with lived experience here at Isorropia Foundation, we have numerous examples of how our team and graduate members have benefitted from volunteering at times of challenging circumstances in their lives, and who continue to give back in times of wellness too!
I look forward to next month’s post where I will be marking National Volunteers’ Week by sharing some of the interesting roles that our team have taken on and how they feel it impacted their own lives and the lives of others. This will be such an inspiring read so please do check back in for that.
Benefits of Volunteering
The Big Help Out shared statistics from a study of 7000 adults, highlighting that 73% of volunteers said they felt volunteering gave them more confidence, 73% agreed it gave them new skills/experience and 89% said they enjoyed it! These figures reflect our own experience here at Isorropia Foundation where volunteering benefits both physical and mental wellbeing. It is most definitely a win-win in my opinion. If this is something you are keen to explore, and The Big Help Out hasn’t provided anything suited to your needs/interests, there is also an Island volunteering service which you can check out www.iwvolunteer.org for opportunities specific to the Isle of Wight. Here are just a few ideas to set you on your path to greater fulfilment and better wellbeing:
- “Volunteer Photographer” – Social Heritage Ryde
- “Kitchen Help” – Ventnor Wellbeing Cafe
- “Land maintenance and fencing” – IOW Deer Farm
- “Various Roles” – IOW Donkey Sanctuary
I can’t see any negatives to getting involved with volunteering in your local communities. This ties in beautifully with Key 5 of our Keys to Wellbeing – ‘Connect to Meaning and Purpose’. I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this. If you’re a member of Isorropia and would like a chat with one of our Wellbeing Coaches about volunteering and taking that brave step out of your comfort zone, just give the duty line a call. We would love to hear from you.
After six and a half months based in our new office at Medina Valley Centre, the team were all feeling pretty well settled and at home in ‘Glanville’. But, as we like to remind our members on the Wellbeing Programme, ‘change can be a good thing’ and we very much like to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk here. As such, we were delighted to hear that sufficient progress has been made in the main building that we are now able to move out of the ‘outbuilding’ and into our new upstairs office, overlooking the river with even more beautiful views than those we’d grown accustomed to! This was always the intention from our first visit to look around the site back in September 2022 but various different things had to be completed and actioned prior to this move being made. It is a slightly different set-up, with a few smaller offices for us to occupy, as opposed to one large, open-plan space. This is an adjustment and there will always be little hiccups to overcome when things are changing, but the team is strong and they will most definitely find themselves settling in and feeling ‘at home’ again in no time at all, I’m sure.
We can learn so much from nature and our location here at MVC is absolutely perfect for this. You may not be aware, but Medina Valley is one of a few, very select UK locations that have been blessed with the presence of a rare butterfly called the Glanville Fritillary (our office namesake) Medina has a rich history of flora and fauna due to its riverside setting and concerted efforts to protect its habitats. The Glanville Fritillary is one of the many species that visitors to the site should be avidly looking out for, as it would be such a treat to be able to say that you have seen one. My online research provided clear evidence to support this view.
Lifecycle of a Glanville Fritillary
- Eggs are laid on the underside of the foodplant Sea Plantain or Ribwort Plantain
- Emerging caterpillars are yellow/white with black heads
- Whilst living in silken webs the caterpillars undergo colour changes, developing a black body and brown head
- Glanville Fritillary caterpillars will hibernate in August, overwinter until early Spring when they become active once again
- By March/April caterpillars are fully grown at 25mm with a black body, red head, red/brown prolegs, black spines and white speckling
- In thick vegetation, pupation will then take place, with chrysalis attaching to a plant stem and butterfly emerging around 3 weeks later
- Peak flight period for Glanvilles is from 20th May until the first week of June (although they may be seen throughout June and into July)
- Flight period is affected by the onset of Spring (potentially meaning earlier or later sightings) and poor weather in June (bringing the season to an earlier end)
- The most significant population in the UK is on the South Coast of the Isle of Wight
- The Hampshire coastline is now also able to boast a small population
- Sand Point in Somerset is the only other recorded population of Fritillaries in the UK (although they are also found in the Channel Islands and throughout Europe)
- East Wight – Wheelers Bay to Horseshoe Bay
- West Wight – Compton Bay/Shippards Chine, Brook Green, Sud Moor, Chiltern Chine to Marsh Chine
Colonies of Glanville Fritillaries exist primarily on sandstone and clay exposures of undercliffs and chines, and on clifftop grassland above (www.hantsiow-butterflies.org.uk) Obviously, our habitat at MVC is quite different to that, so it is interesting to me that this species is still drawn to the area. However, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Butterfly Conservation state that during bumper years Glanvilles form transient colonies further inland, even reaching the northern coastline! So maybe this is what’s been happening in the past when MVC has hosted these rare creatures. I’m no expert! But I do think butterflies are amazing and incredible, going through so many changes within their life span. So many artists use this cycle to inspire creativity and particularly linking into wellbeing and how we, as people, need to accept that we evolve and change throughout our lives and that this is not a bad thing.
May 15th – 21st is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. This is very close to our hearts, being as Isorropia is a mental health and wellbeing organisation and we have a variety of helpful, thought-provoking posts going out on our social media pages. Do take a look, particularly if you suffer from Anxiety as that is this year’s theme. Don’t forget that we also run ‘Mastering Anxiety’ workshops for our members. If you are a member and would like to book a top-up, please do get in touch or you can book in the usual way via your Bookwhen link. If May has been challenging for you and your anxiety appears to be worsening, this could be the perfect time to reconnect with your fellow members and have a refresh of those tools and tips that we know can be so helpful when we remember to use them.
We at Isorropia Foundation are increasingly proud of the work we do for our Island community and, more than anything else, feel a sense of pride in the individuals who join us on the Wellbeing Programme and work hard to embrace change and show commitment in ‘Adopting an Open and Positive Mindset’ (Key 4). Our organisation is constantly evolving as we look to improve and adapt, ensuring we continue to provide the very best opportunities for our members. We may well have had the occasional bump to navigate along the way to get us where we are today, but this is normal for relatively new organisations as they grow and learn what works and what doesn’t. We do acknowledge wholeheartedly that change is not easy. But it is almost always worth it. We empower our members to overcome any difficulties they face in their day-to-day lives by using the tools they have learnt in the workshops to assert themselves and tackle any problems they face with an effective communication style. When we see our members managing their own wellbeing and pushing themselves further than they ever believed possible it is a wonderful feeling. It really does feel sometimes, as if we are watching people transform before our very eyes!
If any Islanders are reading this and are currently struggling with certain changes, or indeed challenges in their own lives, please do reach out. Our Duty line is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and we can have you signed up for the Wellbeing Programme within 2 weeks. We have no waiting list! Contact us HERE. To see the services that are available in your area CLICK HERE. Please know that you are never alone.
Until next time,
P.S. One small change to mention before I go: I’m actually going through a bit of a transition myself at the moment! For any members who know me as one of Isorropia’s Wellbeing Coaches, please be aware that I shall now be taking on more of a behind-the-scenes role within the organisation (which means I won’t get to see your lovely faces as much as before). Look out for next month’s post for more details of what I’ll be doing instead!