Group takes on new well-be­ing pro­ject

Halifax Courier - - This Week In Court - By Tom Scargill

Cre­ative arts com­pany verd de gris is em­bark­ing on a well­be­ing pro­ject to help im­prove the men­tal health of women in Calderdale. The not-for-profit group, based in Heb­den Bridge, re­cently won the Arts and Cul­ture Award at the Courier’s Com­mu­nity Spirit Awards. Part­ners Sharon Mars­den and Jeff Turner, from verd de gris, are look­ing for around a dozen par­tic­i­pants to take part in their health and well-be­ing pro­ject, which aims to help women who may be suf­fer­ing from low self-es­teem or low con­fi­dence. Be­hind The Mask fol­lows on from their suc­cess­ful Land Be­neath My Feet pro­ject, which in­volved a group of Mus­lim women us­ing art, po­etry, writ­ing and dance to help in­crease their con­fi­dence and self-ex­pres­sion. Sharon said: “On the back of the suc­cess of the Land Be­neath My Feet pro­ject we got re­peat fund­ing from Calderdale Coun­cil’s Adult Health and So­cial Care Di­rec­torate to re­peat it - this fund­ing has now been matched by Big Lottery Awards For All. “We thought about women in the wider com­mu­nity and thought it was re­ally rel­e­vant for them too. “No mat­ter who you are, what­ever age or back­ground, that per­sona that women have to put on, the mask women have to wear, is in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful. “Women are con­stantly hav­ing to put a mask on to their fam- ily, their hus­bandd or part­ner, their work­place, to wider so­ci­ety. “And we felt that cuts across all com­mu­ni­ties. So we’re do­ing a pro­ject withh Mus­lim women and another with the wider com­mu­nity.” Par­tic­i­pants for the Mus­lim women’s el­e­ment will come from dis­cus­sions with com- mu­nity out­reach worker, but verd de gris are ap­peal­ing for par­tic­i­pants from the wider com­mu­nity for the sec­ond part of the pro­ject. “We’re hop­ing to work with women who are strug­gling with self-es­teem and low con­fi­dence and those is­sues will come up as we’re work­ing,” said Sharon. “Women have come so far but it’s still in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult for women to be all things. Hope­fully we’ll get a mix of women from dif­fer­ent back­grounds but who share com­mon themes, which would be a pos­i­tive be­cause we like to look at what makes us the same and what we all share. We use a lot of cop­ing strate­gies which can help peo­ple to learn to deal with any is­sues they have. “We look at breath­ing tech­niques, pos­i­tive think­ing, ways of try­ing to help peo­ple take a dif­fer­ent look at the sit­u­a­tion they’re in and make changes.” The pro­ject will run from Septem­ber 11 un­til Christ­mas, with a weekly two-hour ses­sion at the Women’s Cen­tre on Sil­ver Street in Hal­i­fax town cen­tre. “Once the pro­ject fin­ishes we’ll a as­sess it and we may think about

ru run­ning a sim­i­laNa lar pro­ject in the New Year if there are more women in in­ter­ested,” said Sh Sharon. “W “We’re very in­teres ested in tak­ing th the de­bate to more women so we might look at go­ing into high schools. “This is a mas­sive is­sue with young g girls so we’d be in­ter­ested in do­ing cre­ative de­bates where, if the women we work with were con­fi­dent enough, could be part of cre­ative work­shops with schools.” Sharon is keen to en­cour­age par­tic­i­pants from all walks of life to the pro­ject, and says women shouldn’t be dis­cour­aged if they are not cre­ative. She added: “We do cre­ative art, po­etry, cre­ative writ­ing, but ev­ery­thing starts with a sim­ple start­ing point so that peo­ple who don’t feel they’re very cre­ative or they’ve never been able to write are given the con­fi­dence that what they have to say is im­por­tant. “Some amaz­ing things do come out of these projects. It might just be a phrase or a paint­ing or an im­age. “Ev­ery­body can re­spond cre­atively - that’s the ba­sis of what we do. “What’s im­por­tant is what peo­ple have to say, not nec­es­sar­ily how the say it. “There might be some women who have a men­tal health con­di­tion or oth­ers who con­stantly feel anx­ious or low in con­fi­dence. It’s open to any­one.” If you are in­ter­ested in tak­ing part in the Be­hind The Mask pro­ject, email sharon@verd­de­

The per­for­mance that marked the cli­max of the Land Be­neath My Feet pro­ject (above). Be­low: Sharon and Jeff col­lect their Com­mu­nity Spirit award.

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