Final update from the Good Mental Health Coop

For those of you who have been following our fortunes, you’ll be aware that the Good Mental Health Coop closed down all our activities at the end of March.

However we’re lucky enough to have found partners who will continue a lot of the work we’ve been developing over the years, so I’d like to introduce these enterprises again to you.

Please scroll down to find more info and links to the work of Creatful, Sanpau Creative Wellbeing, and Creative Mental Health – three enterprises which share the values and philosophy of the Good Mental Health Coop.

The weekly Nexus Women’s Creativity and Wellbeing group, which meets on Tuesday mornings, will be continuing through another social enterprise, Creatful. Nancy Fellows started Creatful a few years ago in the Havant / Waterlooville area. She will be overseeing the future development of ‘Creatful Buckland’ along with regular facilitator Jane Moody.

The women’s group will continue as before with the same format after the Easter school holidays, on Tuesday 16 April, and you can click here to see the Creatful programme of activities for April.
To keep up to date with the latest news from Creatful, you can sign up on their website here:

Sandy Walker was a co-founder and leading influence in the direction and value of the Good Mental Health Coop.  She has started a new community interest company, Sanpau, with Paul Williams, and they have now moved into the Good Mental Health Coop office base at the Buckland United Reformed Church in Portsmouth.

Their programme of workshops is based on a similar philosophy to the Mental Wealth Academy programmes we ran previously – promoting creativity in different forms as a path to good mental health and wellbeing. Sanpau are keen to seek funding as well, and to work with other organisations in the city to deliver support accessible to all. 

To keep up to date with the latest news from Sanpau, you can sign up on their website here:

Sarah Haskett is a long standing partner involved in projects with the Good Mental Health Cooperative. Her enterprise is called Creative Mental Health, and she has hosted our Mental Wealth Academy workshops and courses as part of her website, as well as creating an online exhibition to showcase the work of our Stories of Asylum project. This online content will continue to be available, and Sarah also plans to redevelop the Books Alive! initiative in the future.

We’re delighted to let you know that Sarah is on maternity leave right now with her baby boy Jacob. However if you’d like to keep in the loop for when Sarah gets back to work, you can sign up to her website here:

The Good Mental Health Cooperative has now ceased trading as of 31 March 2024.

Handing over and moving on

Following the Mental Wealth Festival in October, and the celebration of a decade of projects delivered by the Good Mental Health Coop, it’s sadly time for the organisation to close down. Last week we held our Annual General Meeting, and Coop members were able to hear three proposals from other local organisations to take on some of the work we have developed.

This is an extraordinarily difficult time for community support services of all kinds, and many small organisations like the Good Mental Health Coop are finding it a big challenge to fund the core costs needed to run a professional and effective service. As ever though, there are new models and ways of thinking being developed, and these are the initiatives which will be taken forward in 2024:

The Nexus Women’s Creativity and Wellbeing Group – the running of this weekly group will be taken over by Creatful CIC. Founder Nancy Fellows already runs groups and events in the Havant and Waterlooville area, and she will be getting to know members of the Nexus group in the New Year with a view to taking over the group fully in April.

The Mental Wealth Academy – Co-founder of the Good Mental Health Coop, Dr.Sandy Walker, has set up a new social enterprise Sanpau CIC, with partner Paul Williams. They plan to use the Buckland United Reformed Church as a base with a continued focus on self-management, creative, skills based and personal development courses and workshops. These will be delivered by community groups and social entrepreneurs outside of the formal health and social care services.

Books Alive! – Sarah Haskett of Creative Mental Health also has a long association with the Good Mental Health Coop, and has developed innovative online approaches for mental wellbeing. Sarah is keen to develop Books Alive! as a livestream podcast of people sharing their stories, and also find ways to use Playback Theatre as an exciting way to use drama to bring stories to life.

Mental Wealth Trialogues – these discussion events were a regular feature of Coop activities across Hampshire from 2015 until the pandemic. Creative Mental Health would like to continue this form of open dialogue communication using video conferencing with groups, potentially across the world.

Stories of Asylum from WW1 – Creative Mental Health will also continue to host this innovative exhibition and associated creative activities on her website. This includes a short film inspired by Emily, a novel written by one of the researchers on the Stories of Asylum project, and Sarah is keen to encourage more film making and other art forms inspired by the exhibition in future.

To view more of the work of the Good Mental Health Coop over the past 10 years, click here to watch a short You Tube video commissioned for our Mental Wealth Festival keynote event.

The Good Mental Health Coop may be closing down but we feel good that the values, principles and ideas that we have developed will continue, and morph into new creative projects. Wishing you all the best of mental health!!

Mental Wealth Festival in October

This year is the 10th anniversary of the Good Mental Health Cooperative! So we couldn’t miss the opportunity to celebrate.

As the Good Mental Health Coop, we’ve organised three previous Hampshire Festivals of the Mind – in 2014, 2016 and 2018. It’s been five tumultuous years since our last Festival, and this one will be focused on Portsmouth, showcasing the work that goes on in local communities to build resilience, tackle social isolation and contribute to reducing health inequalities.

Our keynote event is on 12 October at Oasis – the Venue in Arundel Street, Portsmouth. There’ll be free workshops, a creative doodle trail with Seekers, a Books Alive! stall, trips around town with Cycling Without Age, and stalls from many of the community based groups in the city. We welcome the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress to open the event, and also our guest speaker Jill Manthorpe CBE from Kings College London. There will be refreshments and lunch provided.

For more information about Festival events and activities, and the keynote event on 12 October, click here

Autumn activities

Next week sees the start of our autumn programmes on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Buckland United Reformed Church. On Monday 4th September, our ChitChat Club will be starting up again after a break during August. We’re delighted to welcome back volunteers from Cycling Without Age who will take people out on mini-trips around the local area (optional of course).

The ChitChat Club meets every Monday from 10am to 12noon. You can drop in at any time for a cuppa and a chat, and each week there’s an optional exercise activity to help with health and wellbeing.

Click here to see the ChitChat programme for the next couple of months.

Then on Tuesday 5th September, our Nexus Women’s Creativity and Wellbeing group starts up again, this time meeting for a Wellbeing and Photography Walk around Hilsea Lido. The facilitators are Charlie Johnson who leads wellbeing walks around the city for Portsmouth City Council, and Paul Williams who is working on a photography project to celebrate the contribution of trees to wellbeing. Photos taken on the walk can be sent to Paul and will be included in his Lungs of the City exhibition in October.

Click here to see the Nexus programme until December.

Soon to be launched is more information about a Mental Wealth Festival we’re organising for October, with a special keynote event on Thursday 12 October at Oasis – The Venue in Arundel Street.

Drop in and be creative this summer

During August, our Monday ChitChat Club will be taking a break, ready to start the autumn programme on Monday 5 September when we welcome back Cycling without Age!

We will continue with our Tuesday Creativity and Wellbeing sessions. These are usually for women only, but during the summer holidays we open up the sessions for men and for children of regular members.

The Tuesday sessions run from 11 – 12.30 at the Buckland United Reformed Church and we do have some guests coming along to offer optional arts/craft activities. You can also bring your own creative project, or just relax with some collage or lego building, a cuppa and a chat.

Click here to see more details about the August sessions.

Lungs of the City

One of our sessions during Mental Health Awareness Week was to join a Wellbeing Walk and photography workshop set up in a collaboration between Paul Williams (independent photographer), Charlie Johnson from Portsmouth City Council, and the Good Mental Health Coop. This was part of an ongoing project set up by Paul to highlight the benefits of trees in particular for our wellbeing, and using creativity through photography to illustrate this.

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What difference does it make?

Sometime ago, working with members of our Nexus women’s group, we developed a wellbeing check-in for people to complete at the start and end of group sessions. The idea is to simply pay attention to how you’re feeling that day, in the moment. To assess levels of positivity, members are asked to score how Loved, Understood, Motivated, Energetic, Healthy and Cheerful they were feeling. To assess levels of negativity, members are asked to score how In Pain, Lonely, Neglected, Angry, Anxious and Tired they were feeling.

Open Day for Men’s Wellbeing

Coming up this Friday, 31 March is our celebration event to mark the success of the With Men in Mind workshops programme that has been running weekly for the past 6 months.

The Open Day for Men’s Wellbeing is based at the Community Cafe in the Buckland United Reformed Church, PO2 7LP, between 11am and 3pm.

There’ll be creativity and wellbeing workshops in the upstairs Bembridge Room which is fully accessible via a lift. Downstairs there’s a number of stalls with useful advice and information about support and activities for men in the city. Click here for more details.

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth will be joining us at 12 noon for an hour, and we have a special launch of a new photography project ‘Lungs of the City’ which will offer a chance to ‘open our eyes to the power of nature on our doorstep’.

It’s International Women’s Day!

Yesterday, on Tuesday 7 March, the Nexus Women’s Creativity and Wellbeing Group hosted an event to celebrate International Women’s Day which is officially today, 8th March. The themes of International Women’s Day are always around celebrating inspirational women and promoting equality and inclusion.

The Clock Community Cafe in the Buckland United Reformed Church, Fratton.

This year the United Nations have promoted the theme of DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality. World wide, less women than men have the skills or resources to access information technology, less women have the opportunities to work in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) yet by 2050 75% of jobs will be related to these areas.

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Stories of Asylum – Portsmouth Bookfest Special

During 2020-21 a team of researchers from the Good Mental Health Coop pulled together an incredible online exhibition featuring real peoples’ stories of mental health treatment at the Portsmouth Borough Lunatic Asylum, later St James Hospital. Inspired by 100 year old medical records from the Portsmouth History Centre, and the stories of the people who spent time at the hospital, Christine Lawrence wrote a series of monologues and then a novel called ‘Emily’ based on the real stories she researched.

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