Wool@J13, the Midlands No 1 Wool Show, is planning to build a wall for this year’s show on 16th & 17th May and they think they’re going to need a little help from their friends.
‘Stitch a Brick’ is part of Wool@J13’s aim to promote mental health awareness in 2020 and is the brainchild of Ingrid Wagner, co-organiser of the show and two of the show’s volunteer team and keen crafters, Fiona Beech and Gill Slater. All three women have travelled journeys of depression of their own and they came up with the idea for a wall constructed out of stitched bricks, in a brainstorming session last year.
‘We’re good at building walls around ourselves,’ says Ingrid, ‘to protect ourselves from whatever kind of hurt we are facing, and sometimes we build them so high that we can no longer see over them and, crucially, no one else can see us hiding behind them. We become cut off from the care and love we all need in order to grow and we need to find ways to take these walls down.’
‘Stitch a Brick’ is calling for anyone and everyone to stitch their own brick in knit, crochet, felt or weave (the patterns are provided on the show’s website) and then embroider/sew onto one side the name of the difficulty they may have faced/be facing – it could be any mental health difficulty, bereavement, a job loss for example, anything that is seen as a barrier to getting on with life. And on the other side of the brick, the team are asking for the positives which may have helped or be helping them through that difficulty. The bricks can be sent in to the address given below and the team at Wool@J13 will use them to build a wall with negatives on the one side and positives on the other. The wall will be displayed at the show itself.
‘Everyone can join in,’ says Fiona, ‘regardless of age or ability. This is a personal brick which won’t be judged and is something to be proud of. Every brick is the start of someone’s journey and we would encourage everyone to share their journey with us.’
‘Let’s see how we have overcome our barriers ‘“ if we have.’ she goes on. ‘We may just help others to break down their own walls by sharing theirs.’
The Team are not alone in realising the calming & therapeutic effects of the crafts on mental health and as part of the show’s aim for 2020, they will also be welcoming the mental health and wellbeing Staffordshire based charity, CARE (Chase Aqua Rural Enterprise} to work with them over the weekend in the ‘Take 5’ safe space provided for anyone needing to take time out or simply to talk to someone about any mental health issue which they might have.
CARE’s programmes of meaningful, therapeutic activities link damaged lives with the nature around them in their safe, countryside farm location, where everyone is welcomed and supported as individuals to develop their own potential, grow in selfconfidence and improve their personal wellbeing, through the teaching of skills in animal care, gardening, woodwork, art & crafts, cooking and angling.
Carol Parkes, Director of CARE says ‘We are really happy to be supporting Wool @ J13. The diversity of interests that the show brings together is amazing. I firmly believe that together we are all stronger and it’s great to know this strength will be focused at the 2020 show on mental health and wellbeing’
Joining Carol at this year’s show will be Gemma King from Don’t Stop Keep Going who offers counselling, life coaching or craft therapy following or during a life event, life transition or finding life a challenge.
‘During life, events happen,’ Gemma says, ‘whether big or small, that often throw us off balance and cause turmoil in our minds as we try to move forwards. The impact of our struggles can affect our health, stress levels and abilities. I help people to understand themselves better, to find their feet rather than just asking them to put shoes on and expecting them to walk.’
‘Wool@j13 is doing a great job,’ she goes on, ‘highlighting in a very practical way, the brick walls of emotions that can turn our lives upside down. I have a strong belief in the power of crafting to help the healing process, so I’m very happy to be part of the ‘Take 5’ safe space at this year’s show.’
You can download the patterns for your stitched brick here https://wool-j13.uk/whatson/
Please send your stitched bricks to Wool@J13, Silkmore Children’s Centre, Exeter Street, Stafford, Staffordshire ST17 4EG
Fiona’s story can be read in the Family Action Family Monsters Project https://www.family-action.org.uk/our-voices/category/real-stories/
Gemma King https://www.dontstopkeepgoing.co.uk/