Volunteer | Change | Evolve

May 23, 2023 | 0 comments

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
Volunteering

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.’

Instagram @thomasandvisuals

 “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.

Change

Glanville

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.

Glanville Fritillary

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)

Population Locations

  • 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)

(wildlifeinsight.com)

Island Sightings

  • 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.

Instagram @tam.creates
Instagram @cm.writer
Evolve

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.

Instagram @gladyourehereco

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,

Lucy xx

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!

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