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!
4 responses to “Volunteer | Change | Evolve”
So interesting about the Glanville Fritillary and that it’s flight period is NOW. I shall be keeping my eyes peeled! Thankyou Lucy x
Exciting times, Lucy, thanks for the amazing blog as ever! 🙂 I’ve started volunteering with Vectis Radio and it is very enjoyable and rewarding. It’s made me feel more confident and I’ve met some lovely people so far.
Hi everyone, and welcome back to Inside Isorropia – The Blog.
I have been enjoying all the little pops of colour that have appeared in and around MVC over the past few weeks. Spring flowers are such a blessing; there is nothing quite like bright yellow daffodils to spark joy and optimism after a long, grey winter. I adore hyacinths, too, as they smell absolutely divine, so I was more than happy to venture onto a rather soggy lawn to catch a photo of this pretty pink one.
It is difficult to resist snapping pictures here at Medina, especially on a sunny day; at every turn, there’s something that seems picture-postcard-worthy! What things do you most like to take photographs of? Do you find yourself using your phone to capture images when you’re out and about or do you prefer your time in nature to be device-free?
Celebrating successes, no matter how small they may seem, is a pivotal part of wellbeing. This is a message we continually share with our members and why, as a team with lived experience, we make a special effort to role model this. We know many find receiving compliments or celebrating themselves deeply uncomfortable. This is often due to negative core beliefs that have developed throughout a person’s life. On the Wellbeing Programme there are workshops available which challenge negative beliefs, including ‘Inner Critic’, ‘Mastering Anxiety’ and on The Gift Foundation Course. We also provide opportunities within ‘Wellbeing Planning’ and ‘Gift Follow-Up’ sessions to share member successes and celebrate them within a safe, familiar environment. This is a gentle way to facilitate a change in established, unhealthy thought processes and a development of ease around self-love and the acceptance of praise.
March was jam-packed with activities at MVC, each providing a perfect opportunity to welcome new people and organisations to Isorropia. The first Isorropia Bake Off competition took place at the Easter Wellbeing Fayre with member, Kez, being awarded first prize for her Sugar-Free Cheesecake and Saffron taking second place with an Easter Carrot Cake. Many congratulations to both, and a huge thank you to all the other entrants who provided delicious baked refreshments for the event attendees.
The fun didn’t stop here on site, either. Out in the Island community, the Vectis Radio awards were held, and it was wonderful to see our Community Engagement Lead, Tasha West, being so well supported by friends and family as she was celebrated for her valuable contributions to our Community Umbrella and our monthly newsletter ‘The Navigator’. Congratulations, Tasha, you are amazing! It has also been a very successful month for our wellbeing coaches, with Laura passing her Corporate Wellbeing Coach course with a Distinction and Molly getting a personal best, despite injury, in the Southampton Half Marathon (whoop. whoop!!)
Last but not least, we had our first Team Wellbeing Day of 2023 at the end of March. There was a team-building challenge in which we were tasked with creating something to ensure the safe passage of an egg when dropped from the top of a ladder to the floor! With minimal equipment, including paper straws and string, three teams planned, made, and tested designs with a strict limit of only two eggs per team. A great deal of fun was had by all, and I’m thrilled to report that I was on the winning team along with wellbeing coach Laura Crew, Supporter Relations Lead Tom Ferguson, Volunteer Co-ordinator & Community Manager Vicky Shaw-Yates and our aforementioned volunteer Tasha West. Our prize, first choice from a selection of mini chocolate eggs, yum! Obviously, we opted for the Cadbury’s classic (do any other mini eggs actually need to exist?) Our approach to the task was a combination of a (not-so) snug-fitting paper straw basket, paper straw snippings to pad out the excess space, Sellotape padding, an additional paper straw as an outer buffer, followed by excessive quantities of scrunched-up tape to create a large ball effect. It was finished off with a decorative smiley face. And why not?? 😊 See below for a few photos of the team having a blast. If you’ve ever taken part in any team building exercises/lateral thinking tasks that you think we could attempt to try, pop your ideas in the comments, and we could well be doing it on one of our upcoming Wellbeing Days.
Whilst there is a great deal to be said for teamwork and pulling together, Isorropia places a big focus on Empowerment and encouraging our members to take hold of their own lives and their own futures. As such, I’d like to share some more details about how we do this for our members in a way that ensures they still feel safe and held.
Throughout our Wellbeing Programme members will be reminded that they themselves have the power and, oftentimes, the answers needed to move themselves forwards and out of any difficulties they may be experiencing. The workshop content aims to raise people’s self-awareness, and it is this which allows for personal growth to begin to take place. The psychologist Nathaniel Branden suggests that positive change can happen when a person first develops awareness and then masters acceptance (linkedin.com – ‘Self-awareness is the first step towards personal growth’ 27/05/2021). At Isorropia, we often refer members back to our 3rd Key to Wellbeing ‘Embrace Acceptance and Letting Go’, acknowledging the importance of these wellbeing/life skills.
Wright State University highlights that by learning and knowing as much as possible about ourselves, we can gain a better sense of who we are and create a vision of who we would like to be. This then allows for plans to be put in place for a person to work towards reaching those ideals. We like to call this goal setting, and it is something our members do an awful lot of throughout their Isorropia experience. Even when they are thriving under our community umbrella, the opportunities remain for them to attend Wellbeing Planning sessions, Gift Refresh courses and, for our volunteers, the invitation to attend training sessions, reflective practice, supervisions and team wellbeing days. This all contributes to that ever-growing knowledge of self that is so important to develop and maintain for ongoing wellness.
We emphasise throughout everything we do here at Isorropia the importance of social connection, and this is most often explored via Key 2 – Develop a Healthy and Balanced Lifestyle and Key 5 – Connect to Meaning and Purpose in Life. This is something I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, so check back if you are interested in reading a bit more about our awesome community.
There is much to be said for the personal benefits of being a positive, supportive influence on others – another huge factor in why our members experience so much personal growth during their time with us. As part of our volunteering programme, we encourage those graduates who thrive around this concept to consider becoming mentors for future members.
“Rarely, if ever, are any of us healed in isolation. Healing is an act of communion.”‘All About Love’, Bell Hooks
This quote from American author Bell Hooks was shared on Instagram by @selfcareisforeveryone to mark Black History Month, and I feel it encapsulates all that we could ever hope to achieve with and for our members here at Isorropia. The quote was accompanied by the caption:
“We are all in need of a caring community that truly sees us on our respective self-care journeys, in order to heal.”
This is backed up further by ‘The School of Life London’ who claim that:
“There can be nothing better than discussing things within a warm and sympathetic group of people who know all about troubles, who don’t judge and with whom we can feel less alone.”
I hope that this ‘caring community’ and ‘warm group’ described above is exactly what our members experience when they come to us, often from a place of isolation, so that they may feel assured enough to take those difficult first steps on an unknown path and continue on towards transformation, wellness and fulfilment. This is not to take anything away from the remarkable work our members do for themselves. Empowerment is huge for us as an organisation, and as wellbeing coaches, we are here to help facilitate change. Our members know that they are required to do the work – take the steps and put the ideas into action in their lives – we simply plant the seeds. They have to find the courage and confidence to proceed, and more often than not, they absolutely do!
“Your purpose is not the thing you do. It is the thing that happens in others when you do what you do.”@drcarolineleaf
One of the most rewarding parts of the work we do at Isorropia Foundation centres around the person we see at the end of the Wellbeing Programme, at the point of Graduation. This is when we get a clearer insight into the changes that have occurred for our members, from their own personal perspective and expressed in that member’s own words. We, of course, will have seen this transformation happening over a period of time, but it is a powerful moment for both members and coaches to have that opportunity to reflect back on the whole experience and to acknowledge just how far a person has travelled on their wellness journey. Often there are significant improvements in areas including health, mood, emotional stability, connection and stress. Some members may have reduced their medication, increased their working hours, or signed up for further education. Many members have described the steps they have taken towards recovery here at Isorropia as life-changing.
This is what it is all about! Check out this amazing feedback from one of our recent graduates:
“The skills knowledge and self-awareness I have learnt has truly been somewhat life-changing. Everyone I have met on this journey has been inspiring brave and resilient, and passionate to educate and encourage others to become vulnerable and their true self with no judgement. The Island is a brighter place thanks to Isorropia. I can not wait to see you continue to grow, inspire and create hope for many others on their journey to wellness. Thank you so much for helping me to become me again.”Feedback from an Isorropia Member
This is why we are here, and it is this that drives us forward… to continue making a difference in the lives of those who need it most and who are brave enough to take that initial first step, willing to give our ‘unique’ model for wellness a try. If you’re interested in finding out more about Isorropia Foundation, please do get in touch.
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members”
Last, but not least, I’ve been thinking about the question I posed last time around…’What brings you joy?’ Given the time of year, you might want to think of it this way… ’what puts a Spring in your step?’ (humour me, please!)
It has come to light over the past couple of weeks that our team and coaches have quite a range of different activities that they love to do for leisure and self-care. I know I have a pretty long list to pick from when I get the opportunity to unwind and do something for myself. It actually makes it really hard to choose! Sadly, this can lead to procrastination, and (I’m hoping I’m not the only one struggling with this) time often ends up wasted on scrolling through social media. So it has been lovely for me to see the things my colleagues have been doing in their downtime. Check out these photos of the following activities and lovely Isorropia members. Have a think about who might be behind these wonderfully calming, inspiring images. Can you work out which activity belongs to who?
(Names at the bottom of the post if you need some help).*
As always, it would be lovely to hear what it is you do to reset and bring your life back into balance. Why not give some of these activities a try? If you don’t find it easy to prioritise yourself, or like me, struggle to make the best use of your self-care time, maybe book yourself in for a Wellbeing Planning workshop or have a chat with one of our coaches about the activities we have going on in the community right now. *Quick Plug* We are delighted (and incredibly lucky) to be offering our members their very own Fishing Group (exclusively for Isorropia graduate members). This will be starting in May, courtesy of Black Rock Fishing Charters and made possible due to a Sport England grant which aims to support people to be engaged and active – so there is no excuse if you’re feeling curious or inspired to give fishing a try! If you’re an Isorropia graduate member, contact the team on 01983 217791 to find out more details. Non-members can contact Black Rock directly to find out more about the services they offer to the public, visit their website HERE.
Have a lovely few weeks everyone and make the most of the sun when it shines; it really is so good for you 😊
Until next time,
P.S. *Hannah, Molly, Maria, Jamie
One response to “Celebrate | Grow | Reset”
I think I need a reset! 🙌
Hannah – Fishing?
Molly – Horse Riding?
Maria – Mandala Painting?
Jamie – Baking?
I hope everyone enjoys all the Bank Holidays May has this year 🇬🇧 🇬🇧 🇬🇧
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