This week we have a guest post by Beth from United Response, who contacted me recently about Postcards from the Edges…
Just a few decades ago many people with disabilities or mental health needs were locked away from the rest of Britain in institutions, their voices ignored and their stories unheard. United Response, which is now celebrating 40 years of challenging injustice, want to rectify that.
Postcards from the Edges gives anyone whose life has been impacted by disability or mental health the chance to speak to the world in a postcard – using words, photographs, art or anything that captures the imagination. The website (www.postcardsfromtheedges.org.uk) and hub of the project was launched at the beginning of February.
The postcards website is where all submitted postcards can be viewed and shared. It contains a variety of postcards demonstrating a vast spectrum of creativity; from political statements to doodles.
One postcard submitted was by an 84 year old man with mental health needs. He described it, simply, as capturing ‘what’s in my head’. Asked about its resemblance to the great Italian Lakes, he smiled and confirmed he had been to Lake Maggiore as a young man – this memory still clearly burning bright inside him.
Another postcard entitled ‘See the child’ shows a child having fun at a playground. Liz, the card creator and mother of the child, said she wanted it to show ‘the joy of the moment’. She longs for people to treat children with autism with as much compassion as they would a child with a more visible disability.
Matthew submitted a postcard called ‘Being disabled does not make me inspirational’. He said that he is frustrated by people seeing him doing normal things and finding them inspirational simply because he has a disability and uses a wheelchair.
Later this year, exhibitions in London, Bristol, Newcastle and Liverpool will showcase a selection of the postcards.
United Response is a top 100 national disability, supporting people to fulfil their dreams and to live as independently as possible. This year marks forty years of providing learning disabilities support and championing the rights of people with disabilities.
You can find out more about the project here: http://www.postcardsfromtheedges.org.uk/the-project.
You can get involved in this project simply by creating a postcard. Either request a postcard pack by emailing email@example.com or go to the http://www.postcardsfromtheedges.org.uk website and click ‘create a card’ to upload or create a card online.
Start in Manchester is an NHS mental health organisation with a bit of a twist. They are an art in mental health organisation, nationally recognised as a leader in its field, who offer therapeutic services based on the experience of creativity. Through art and gardening courses the team help to “maintain mental wellbeing, develop coping strategies and self-care skills, and regain the confidence to move back into mainstream life.”
Working with people experiencing long-term mental difficulties and distress Start offer a mix of skills to their students (all mental health service users) including visual arts, horticulture and occupational therapy. When service users join Start they usually have no or very little previous experience of art however they find their talents are drawn out through the creative, supportive learning environment. To find out more about Start click here.
The images displayed on this page are a selection from Start’s galleries, including drawing and painting, ceramics and mosaic work. Start not only exhibit their service users’ work but they have also completed a number of commissions which is my favourite thing about the project.