10/09/20 BLOG 14: TOGETHER ALONE SNAPSHOT -
WHERE ARE WE AND WHERE ARE WE HOPING TO GO?
It appears that the world is still moving gently through the seasons, despite all that we’ve been through in the past few months. The leaves are beginning to turn brown, the air is getting slightly chillier and it’s made me think about how times of transition can offer great opportunities for reflection and taking stock. We wanted to use this time of change as a chance to reflect on Together, Alone and the journey the project has taken so far.
We set up Together, Alone to discuss and explore the concept of self-care – what works, what doesn’t work, and – when self-care doesn’t go far enough – what needs to change in order to improve mental wellbeing support for women? We are some of the way along that journey now, but we are by no means done yet!
So, what have we found so far? Our recent Your Voice poll suggests that women still don’t have much opportunity to do the things they enjoy and that are helpful to their wellbeing. Evidence is also starting to suggest that alcohol and drug use have increased, both during lockdown and as restrictions have began to ease, and some are worried about a potential impending mental health crisis . All of this suggests there is still plenty of work yet to be done on a wider level, looking at service provision as part of a national conversation. We hope that Together, Alone will be part of that discussion, bringing the voices and wellbeing needs of women who sell or exchange sex to the table. Alongside that, as we discussed just last week on this blog, even the smallest of acts of self-care are political. We want to discuss all facets of self-care in this space, so let’s think about what we have we looked at so far together, alone.
Our blog has so far been a platform for a variety of voices to talk about different elements of self-care. We have had reflections on the links between self-care and creativity , thought about different aspects of self-care such as the “self” in self-care, self-compassion and collective connection and hopefully provided a place for discussion, exploration and support. These discussions have been trying to build up a picture of self-care as something we all deserve, but understandably don’t always have the time and capacity for. In exploring these topics, we hope to add more tools to your toolbox, giving us all more to draw upon when we feel we need it. We would like the blog to continue to look at what self-care is, provide regular updates, and be a supportive voice. We have some ideas for more blogs, including a couple of guest spots but would love to hear from you about anything you would like us to explore. Coming up, we’ve got Jo talking about the impact this time of transition might be having on us all, a reflection from Kathryn Rattray on what creating her Masterclasses has meant to her and her own self-care, and a discussion about boundaries as a form of self-care. What else would you find useful? You can let us know here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have so far linked with 2 artists as part of our Masterclass series, designed to explore the links between self-care and creativity and provide tips and tools to build up our skills and flex our creative self-care muscles. We hope that they can provide not only ways of representing self-care, but also opportunities to use the Masterclasses as a space for your own self-care. So far, we have focused on visual arts, beginning with Alice Dansey-Wright looking at doodle design, motif making and home printing. We have been sending out workshop packs to women with all of the materials necessary to try Alice’s classes out at home and still have some available if anyone else would like to give them a go! You can contact us here or on email@example.com if you’d like to have a wee go! We’ve also had some lovely reflections from people who have tried them out as part of our blog – the images below show parts of these creative processes.
Photographer Kathryn Rattray has recently taken us on a journey through the 5 categories of self-care, with her final masterclass on Grounding published last week. Kathryn will be back soon with a blog reflecting on what the process of creating these Masterclasses has meant to her and her own self-care recently so look out for that! I even made a recent foray into photography with my very own Comfort Flat Lay! We have had some beautiful pictures and words come in from women who have tried the masterclasses out, such as the images below. We love seeing your work and hearing about your experiences of doing the masterclasses – get in touch if you have anything you’d like to share. We have loved seeing images and hearing about what doing the masterclasses have meant to people – such as from Christine who shared the image of leading lines for the Movement Masterclass and said:
“It gave me time alone to get submerged within my local area and see the beautiful opportunities I have on my doorstep to create beautiful pictures.”
These two beautiful flower images are also from Christine as part of her series on Joy – something looking at the colourful images certainly sparks joy!
The next area of creativity we would like to look at is creative writing, with more masterclasses coming your way within the next couple of months. Is there anything you would find helpful around poetry, prose and the written word? Do you use writing as a form of self-care? Remember we welcome entries for the Together, Alone blog if so!
TIPS AND TOOLS
We are beginning to build on our tips and tools section, with suggestions coming in from both workers and women with lived experience. It’s currently a work in progress, but we have big hopes for how it might turn out in the future! Our main hope at the end of the Together, Alone project is to take everything we have learned, explored, and discussed together and turn it into a self-care toolkit. This includes tips and tools around self-care from a variety of voices – maybe including yours! We would love to hear from you about anything that you have found useful recently – what are your go-to’s for self-care? Have you picked up any new self-care tools that you would like to share? You can let us know all or any of this via our contact form, or by filling in our confidential RISE survey on Mental Wellbeing. We’ll continue to share things we hope you might find helpful as the project progresses.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
One of the questions we are hoping to address as part of Together, Alone is what happens when self-care doesn’t go far enough? We know that for many the ongoing pandemic has been a time of real struggle and a time during which self-care may not be touching the sides of the way that we feel. Mental health and support services are inundated, with many services having to look at new ways to provide support. We hope that Together, Alone can be a critical and reflective space for you to speak truth to power – exploring what works, what doesn’t work, and what needs to change in relation to mental health support. We would also love to hear from you on the questions or issues you would like us to be taking to the people making decisions right now, so that you can be a part of shaping the way mental health support is delivered in Scotland. You can fill out our RISE Mental Wellbeing survey, chat with us via our contact form , or drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are so looking forward to exploring this next phase of Together, Alone with you all!