Tag Archives: Space2Create

Volunteer Responses to Space2Create (FreeSpace #3)

26 Nov



Volunteer Responses to S2C


I asked a few Space2Create volunteers to tell me what it meant for them to be involved with S2C, what volunteering did for them. As a voluntary led organisation we rely on volunteers but must also recognise that the volunteers are as much a part of the group as any of the participants. We want the group to allow individuals to deal with problems in their lives, to begin a positive journey. We hope that individuals will come to our groups and evolve then move on, this applies to participants and volunteers who we hope grow from the experience of being involved with the creativity we use as our tool to aid recovery and development.

J writes:

“Being involved with space2create benefits me individually in many ways. Firstly, as a qualified (though not currently practising) occupational therapist I recognise the benefits of creativity to aid well-being. In fact it is core to our profession and much research has been carried out around this issue. Secondly, the group allows me to use many of the skills I trained for. Working with individuals and groups but always recognising that everyone is unique with their own set of goals, aims, beliefs and desires. Thirdly, I love being involved in creativity on a purely personal level. It is a passion and interest of mine and I benefit from its therapeutic value greatly.

Space2create encourages creativity, individuality and self expression . It allows me and everyone involved to develop new skills, experiment, learn from others and this in turn gives me confidence to try new things and to encourage and support others to do so.”

C writes:

“The benefits to me of S2C are manifold, but primarily revolve around being an integral part of a self-supporting and enthusiastic team, and also in the satisfaction gained from delivering a valued service to participants and, in the case of flagship projects, to a wider public. The creative aspects to the role are valuable both in providing a focus for various therapeutic and communal energies which the charity helps to embody, and in providing a personal sense of achievement with the completion of each project or piece.”

K describes:

“Being involved benefits me enormously – It’s the one session of my week where I can be creative, safe, productive and satisfied.

Through creativity I can express my deeper feelings, fears, worries, joy, contentment,… In the safety of the group I can go from a giggling childlike woman to feeling, and exploring, my ‘troubles’ as an adult in the here and now!!

The creativity is a place from which to connect with all the other members of the group. We all have our different ‘issues’ but the feeling of the ability to communicate and find ourselves ‘all in the same boat’ is better than any therapy I’ve had in a long while.

It’s the best thing that’s happened to me this year and I am so grateful this opportunity has come my way. It’s not only a space to create, it’s a space simply to be.”



Ribbon and Wire by Mat JimDog

(‘the volunteers and participants of S2C entangling, supporting and merging’) 


All these people give their time to help individuals who are struggling to cope, are isolated and excluded. By their actions positive steps are forged to help these individuals move forward and begin to recover their lives from whatever distress they have been in. Volunteering is itself a tool to achieve this. There is nothing more powerful for one’s own well-being than to help another improve theirs. Creativity is our vehicle but it is the relationships, links and community that individuals come together to form that allow it to happen. Without the volunteers Space2Create would be nothing.


For more information on all those involved see:





logo1To find out more about S2C:


Twitter: @S2Cspace2create 

Facebook: Space2Create

Email: info@space2create.co.uk


Many thanks to Space2Create for sharing what you do and for sharing it with us.  Here’s to more collaborations between us!  Nicky

FreeSpace #1 Space2Create

9 Oct



Space2Create: Volunteer Power


When a small Mental Health charity called Workbase closed almost exactly a year ago it left around thirty vulnerable adults, ten volunteers and five staff devastated and without a place to go. The charity took on people recovering from serious mental health problems and helped them move on by using meaningful activity and training. Some went on to education, some to jobs and as part of the progression some moved from service users to being volunteers.

At the news of the closure a number of the volunteers decided to learn from the mistakes that led to closure and to start a creative group to help individuals struggling with illness to improve their mood and wellbeing. Space2Create was born.

A year on Space2Create is a thriving and rapidly growing organisation that runs drop in creative sessions for anyone, runs sessions on local mental health wards and delivers sessions to other groups and organisations. Always on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate, Space2Create works with the Lakeland Arts Trust, Cumbria County Council and other local groups to provide opportunities that are creative, fun and meaningful. Local events have been the stimulus for creative projects. A shed with a character living in it obsessed by shoes for Mintfest, and a comic and window display in a local shop for the Comic Arts Festival in Kendal.



The Shed created for Mintfest


Window Display for the Comic Arts Festival in Kendal

The Window Display for the Comic Arts Festival, Kendal


Space2Create firmly believes that creative activity brings people together and helps vulnerable individuals who are ill or facing isolation improve their well-being as part of their recovery. Space2Create is totally volunteer led providing a service by people recovering from serious problems for people recovering.

This is demonstrated weekly with the atmosphere of fun, mutual support, socialisation and creativity generated in the groups. Also the fantastic creative work produced. Space2Create does not put expectations onto people but lets them achieve what they can and celebrates that. People who have come to the sessions are now moving on and running activities for Space2Create, it is wonderful to see them growing in confidence.

Space2Create is now ready to expand in further directions with planned groups for creative writing, photography and sessions for deaf people led by deaf artists.


logo1To find out more about S2C:


Twitter: @S2Cspace2create 

Facebook: Space2Create

Email: info@space2create.co.uk


You can hear and see more from ‘ Space2Create’  on Tuesday 14th November via their 2nd ‘FreeSpace’ contribution. 

Weekend Showcase: Mat JimDog (Artist)

17 May


Every Friday, 1 artist/painter/poet/writer, letting their work speak for itself.


Mat JimDog


>>>>>The Complexity Of Self Loathing” 2013, Oils on canvas.


This picture sums up my work. I have an attraction to complexity and chaos, yet a knowledge that it all has a structure and order. The intertwining, overlapping, tangled, twisting is something I see in biology and the natural world around me and so impose upon that inner world of thoughts. My thoughts are like this, many, complex and at times contradictory. In my pictures each individual thread represents a single thought.

Then there are the eyes, a very common theme in my work. All my life as long as I can remember there has been that other presence in my mind. It watches me and influences me and at the worst moments takes control. But then there is the real physical sense of eyes, that my eyesight in recent years has been in very serious danger through my appalling lack of self care. Diabetes over a long period of time attacks the body in different ways. One of my eyes is now very damaged and the other is under attack, so this too is represented in this picture.

In the end it is a statement about all the complex reasons I have to hate myself, the consequences of that self loathing, yet a colourful image that demonstrates how my creative actions hold that self loathing at bay. When you look at this image, remember that for me it holds every single thread of my hatred, it holds them securely and they cannot hurt me.


A short(ish) Bio!

There are four key elements from my childhood that define my life and it’s course. A strange relationship with my parents that was, and is, never neglectful but not loving. We exist alongside each other almost like strangers with no emotional attachment. As a young boy starved of somebody telling me they loved me it left me vulnerable. The man who filled the void was in every sense the manipulative, secretive, grooming paedophile. From the age of eight till twelve he owned me, abused and left me utterly confused about sex, love and who I was. I read research recently that linked childhood diabetes with trauma so it seems unsurprising that aged eleven I was found to be a type 1 diabetic with absolutely no family history of this. When the abuse came to a sudden stop, as the family moved to a different part of the country, I was so bereft that I searched for more and picked up men in the local area until one day a violent sexual encounter and beating scared me so much at nearly fourteen I retreated inwards. I went to school and then avoided everything else.

The next ten years were a roller coaster ride of getting somewhere, then crashing out. I then found myself on a teaching course and discovered I was good at it. I met my wife, somebody who told me they loved me and actually meant it. I had a few good years but depression and diabetes are not a good mix and the consequences of poor self care began to cause me problems. The past was always too much of a burden and I was constantly questioning myself. I had a severe episode in 2003 that left me unable to carry on teaching but the warning signs were not really heeded by the medical professional in terms of diabetic care or mental health. By 2005 I was a real mess and attempted suicide, my diabetic care so bad that I was admitted to hospital in a coma with a blood sugar so high it was a record at their A&E to be so high and still living.

In hospital my wife brought me pencils and a pad. At that moment, having never drawn for myself or attempted any kind of art beyond school, I found a voice. A way to communicate to others. I found I can draw how I am feeling and communicate the problems in this way. More importantly I found I could make sense to myself the stuff in my head. Talking about it did nothing. But the act of committing to paper made make sense to me.

I still struggle daily with my mental health, I suffer very serious consequences from the thirty odd years of poor diabetic care. Now, however I can cope. I have this thing called being creative that lights my way and has given me hope. I have been lucky to survive, and it is through my painting and helping others who suffer through creative activity, that I prosper.



If you want to find out more about Mat and his art you can do so here:




Space2CreateYou can find out more about Space2Create a group which Mat co-ordinates which offers creative sessions for the improvement of mood here:



Do get in touch via the Comment box or @ArtiPeep if you would like to be showcased. You’d be welcomed!


Bunny Hops: ArtiPeeps Update

1 Apr



It’s been a little while since I’ve given everybody an update of what’s afoot with ArtiPeeps, so I’m taking this Easter Monday as a cue to do so. I am trying to embody all the energy of the hare above at the moment but not the speed- slow and steady is what I’m aiming for; trying to build something solid and meaningful in the long term. All of what you’ll find below is part of that trajectory.

Today is the launch of the new ArtiPeeps logo that you’ll see to the right at the top of the sidebar. It has been designed by artist and illustrator Gary Caldwell and Gary and I have been working on it for a number of months. The logo’s aim is to embody all that ArtiPeeps stands for in a clear and precise way and to communicate the notion of collaboration visually. There is also an explicit nod to another one of ArtiPeeps’ concerns -well-being. We’re going to use the logo on all our official documentation and business cards etc. It will also be the logo I use for my various social media profiles. It’s one of the stages in our professionalisation, so it feels good, and Gary has been a great collaborator. Artipeeps likes Gary.

In terms of present and future collaborations our Transformations Poetry Project is going on a pace. It’s our 3rd month in and the quality of the poems has been extraordinary. Long may it continue!  You can find all the poems here, here, here & here. My aim is to also bring in artists into this project to contribute one painting, illustrating one book. We have two artists so far. If you are an artist and would like to get involved with this please do contact me. The poems and art will form an exhibition/collaboration next year and this will, in real terms, move the virtual collaboration into something concrete and tangible (which is an important intent); foregrounding all the creatives involved. The exhibition which hopefully will also include the poets involved will take place in Kings Lynn late next year; I will be crowdfunding for this exhibition starting in July (that’s the plan).

Our mental health ‘Recovery Project’ is also well under way- 3 artist (Ray Bentley, Jeremy Moseley, Hugo Smith); 3 poets: (Carol Robson, John Mansell and Rebecca Audra Smith) 1 audio visual artist, (Shaun Blezard) working on the theme of recovery *. You can find full details of the project here just last week the 3 poems were passed to the artists. Indeed, the first section of our piece ‘despair’ is already complete as is the soundscape for the whole piece written by Shaun . The artwork combined with the poetty will be ready by the end of April and then it will be a matter of combining all three sections into a whole of some sort in May and releasing it to the world. It’s an extremely affecting and powerful piece we’re creating, I can feel that already. We’re getting a mental health charity involved with us and I’m working towards placing the piece in some way within psychiatric hospitals and/or like-minded organisations.

In relation to the well-being aspect of ArtiPeeps, it is also my intention to create a sister site (ArtiPeeps Well-being) that is dedicated to supporting creative minds. The two sites will be interlinked, but there will be a very clear psychological imperative to the sister site using art, literature and poetry therapeutically and creating links with similar groups and organisations such as Space2Create (with whom we’ll be forging a firm link shortly).

We also have our first prose collaboration Hot Potato kicking off in the middle of April, where 8 prose writers (Ben Cooper, Gail Aldwin, aksania xenogrette ,  CJ Sullivan, AK AndersonLaura Besley, Gwendolyn S, Natalie Beech (over a period of 16 weeks, will be writing one short story sequentially). It’s going to be good. We’ve got great potatoes!! 

We have also found another visitor peep/artist in residence Kelly Occhiuzzo who will be with us for the month of May co-ordinating and taking part in a 4 artist project she has developed in which 4 separate new pieces of art will be created over the period of a month. We’re in the process of firming everything up at the moment. We’re so glad to have her with us!

My focus is still firmly fixed on building as many individual and group opportunities into ArtiPeeps as possible, and the well-being sister site will be developed steadily alongside everything as best I can. I have to admit that balancing the running of ArtiPeeps with actually doing what I need to do to develop it is difficult. Finding the time to do business plans, make connections etc. At present I am in the process of trying to find not only someone to help me with all the day-to-day computer work but also someone who can help me with the budgeting of my 5 year business plan which will act as the foundation of ArtiPeeps’ business equity and project crowdfunding plans. I am approaching CamCreative in relation to this….

In terms of individual opportunities, ‘Weekend Showcase’ is running smoothly every Friday with a new creative featured each week. Every creative showcased is then offered the option of taking up ‘FreeSpace’ (3 separate slots which can be taken up in a cluster or spread across months for mini-projects or for further platforming). James Knight has already done so and Koos Kleven (cartoonist) is also taking up this offer as has poet Oregon McClure. I am also starting up another mini-opportunity called ‘FullSpread’ which will offer creatives: a showcase, ‘FreeSpace’ and a guest blog. This could work particularly well for groups and organisations that want to not only communicate what they do but also want to foreground individuals and projects. We are in fact in the process of offering this to Space2Create.

In terms of features our usual ones,Frenzy’s Flash Feature’ (Greg Mackie), ‘Flash Fortnightly’ and ‘Classic Friday’ ( Nisha Moodley) are going strong, and we have now introduced a new monthly ‘writerly’ feature ‘The Tiniest of Things’ with poet Tiffany Coffman.

Last week ArtiPeeps was nominated by Ant DiMartino for the ‘Very Inspring Blogger Award’ which caused me a bit of concern because it’s not me that does all the writing and the contributing it’s you. As I said to Ant I’m thinking hard how best to handle this and I will only proceed if I can foreground creatives from within ArtiPeeps and its environs… and they might not want to participate…so we”ll see.

As you can see there’s a lot going on; things shaping and shifting in every direction. It’s all really exciting but there’s such a lot to do so it’s about being slow and steady whilst embodying boundng hare-like energy that moves us consistently forward. It’s a matter of stepping forward each day and leaning into every opportunity I can to develop ArtiPeeps and all those who sail in her.

I thank every single contributor and supporter of ArtiPeeps. You are growing ArtiPeeps by your sheer presence and that is an amazing gift, and if you want to get involved just contact me!



* “Recovery is being able to live a meaningful and satisfying life, as defined by each person, in the presence or absence of symptoms. It is about having control over and input into your own life. Each individual’s recovery, like his or her experience of the mental health problems or illness, is a unique and deeply personal process.” Scottish Recovery Network 2009

Recovery is not about ‘getting rid of problems’. It is about seeing people beyond their problems – their abilities, possibilities, interests, and dreams and recovering the social roles and relationships that give life value and meaning”Julie Repper and Rachel Perkins, 2002

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