Natalie Jacqui Phil Kath Sarah Maggie Sophie Lisa Noemia Dan
Hello Everybody! We have some great news to share with you in this edition of the Changes Newsletter. Our
average attendance at our meetings has gone up! This is not just down to our normal seasonal activity (the postChristmas period tends to be a bit quieter then picks up). The increased attendance rates have come about for a
couple of reasons. Firstly, they are positively affected by the hard work of a dedicated volunteer who has been
contacting GPs and Health Centres so Jason and Deb can visit them and tell them about our organisation - Thank
you Jonathan W! Secondly, the recent intake of new volunteer facilitators has created a more vibrant and upbeat
group dynamic across our meetings!
As well as increased numbers of
volunteer facilitators, we also have
a great, dependable team of admin
volunteers working in and outside
of the office! These include:
Our new facilitators who have
completed their induction training are:
Natalie Jacqui Phil
Kath Sarah Maggie
Sophie Lisa Noemia
Dan Sahar Jenni
If you would like to train as a
facilitator please get in touch with
Jason on 0117 9411123 or
Thom - who helps with statistical
inputting, computer fixing and
Mike - general admin
Kath - runs our Twitter account
Jonathan I - runs our Facebook
account and writes our Newsletter
Sam - runs our Facebook account
and writes our Newsletter
Jonathan W - office admin,
Richard - admin and IT
Additionally, Colette and Sam are volunteering to run our new
CreatingChanges group which is starting on 10th April and will initially run
every two weeks for Changes
members, with plans in place to
expand if demand is great
Disclaimer: Changes Bristol holds no responsibility for external links, events, services or organisations provided in our newsletter. Any information given in no
way represents endorsement by Changes Bristol or any of its affiliates. Any content provided is purely for informative reasons and all activities should be taken
at your own risk.. This newsletter is distributed not only to Changes members, but members of other organisations or interested parties. Please bear this in
mind if you are writing a contribution for the newsletter and wish to maintain your anonymity.
Develop your skills and gain work experience or just enjoy making a contribution and being part of a
We are developing 3 different pathways for volunteers at Changes, each with a programme of training
and support. You can commit to as little as 2 hours a week and we try to fit in your interests with our
At the moment there are these vacancies:
Help plan a big fundraising event for Changes
Join our friendly office team for a few hours a week basic office tasks
For more information contact Deb on 0117 9411123 or [email protected]
Second Step are delivering the Peer Support Training course again which will start on Thursday 18th April
2013 at 9 Brunswick Square, BS2 8PE. This is a 6 day course which is spread over 3 weeks.
This course is open to anyone who has personal lived experience of using secondary mental health
services and would like to move towards a volunteer role or paid work within housing related support or
social care sector (we can be flexible, so will consider applications where secondary mental health
services were not accessed).
There is an application and shortlisting process for this course due to high numbers of applicants. Closing
date for applications 12th April 2013.
For more information or to apply please contact Amanda Headley-White on 0117 9096630
Are you a single parent? Is your youngest child aged between 4
and 16? Do you live in or around Somerset (for example, in or
around Bath, Bristol, Swindon, Gloucester or Cheltenham)?
If this is you, and you're willing to give up some time to tell me your experiences of being a single parent
today (what with changes to benefits, rising prices and a harder job market), please get in touch. I am a
researcher at Bath University researching single parenthood in these challenging times.
Your experiences will help make policy suggestions that will have a positive impact. Each participant will
also be entered into a Prize Draw with a chance to win £80. Email me (James Canton)
[email protected] or phone on 07837 957633 and I will send you more information about the
Who is it for?
All Changes members,
past, present, male and
People who do not
believe they have any
People who want to chat
in a supportive, friendly
People who are worried
about chatting but would
like to spend time in the
company of other people
(you don’t have to chat
and you won’t be made
to feel different if you
What is it?
When is it?
Where is it?
CreatingChanges is a
brand new group
aimed at providing
opportunities in a
10.30am - 12.30pm
Wednesday 10th April
2013 and then two
weekly at the same
time on Wednesday
starting from 1st May
The Changes office at
Barton Hill Settlement
41-43 Ducie Road
Tel. 0117 9411 123
What will happen when I get there?
You arrive at the office and you will be greeted by a
volunteer. The volunteer will sit down with you and ask
your name, whether you want to chat or just quietly get
on with an activity. You will be asked a few questions
such as which group you go to/went to, which drink
you would prefer and how you like it made. You can
then pay the £2 fee for costs and materials and select
which activity you would like to try! Drinks are available
on arrival and throughout the session. We may even
Anything else I might like to know?
Although the group will initially be for Changes
members past and present, we hope in the near future
to expand our remit to include people who hope to go
to Changes meetings but are not quite ready to make
this step and members of other mental health oriented
Books from the Changes library will be available to
browse and borrow. If you are not computer or internet
literate, help will be available to show you how to
access social media such as Facebook, Twitter or
instant messaging applications so you can widen your
options for social interaction.
What kind of activities are there?
The activities available over the weeks will include
sewing, knitting, painting, paper crafts, fusible beads,
jewellery making, macramé, weaving, making items
from recycled materials and colouring in for grown-ups!
You are also very welcome to bring in your own
creative activities from home.
There will be a focus activity each session which you
can try or you can choose an alternative activity. There
will be opportunities to learn how to make your own
repairs to clothing etc; just bring in your items in need
of repair and we can help you fix them!
You don’t have to worry about getting an activity
finished within the session; you can work on a project
over a number of weeks and we can store it for you.
You are welcome to just turn up on the day but our
space and places available are limited and priority will
be given to people who book in advance. You can do
this by emailing your first name and group to
or texting 07970197582
What is social phobia?
Social phobia is an extreme form of social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder involves intense fear in social situations
causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some parts of daily life. Social phobia involves all this
plus actively going to extreme lengths to avoid social situations in a typically ‘phobic’ response. Social phobics have a constant
feeling of being judged and criticised by others.
How and when did your social phobia begin?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t affected. I can remember at age 3 being left at Nursery school and standing by the door for
4 hours waiting until my Mum returned to collect me. The staff assured her that “they always calm down when you leave” but in
my case I never managed to settle and participate in Nursery activities like the other children. Social phobia can have a genetic
component but in my case an upbringing which others see as abusive is the very obvious basis of many of my problems.
How does social phobia affect your life?
Quite comprehensively, there is never a moment when I am totally unaffected because even in the most peaceful and nonthreatening situations I have the dread of something happening to change that. Sometimes I find having a “label” is useful, but
often telling someone I have social phobia or social anxiety disorder gets the response “I’m shy too.” To me, shyness is to social
phobia what feeling sad is to clinical depression. I’d like to give some examples of what social phobia has meant to me
throughout my life as a way of explaining that it’s more than shyness. It has involved:
Falling into unhealthy relationships, enduring violence and abuse for over a decade because of my dependence on a partner
to help me with the day to day social interaction life requires.
Having a partner who was ashamed of me, who made excuses why I couldn’t attend things with them because they were
embarrassed by my ‘weirdness.’
Walking12 miles in the rain because I can’t take a bus as I’m unable to ask where to get off.
Struggling with serious medical conditions and at one point risking cancer because I can’t face the social interaction involved
in getting these things addressed. The constant stress of potential social interactions also causes many physical health
Not living to my full potential, doing things well below my capabilities to avoid interaction, and watching others live my
dreams and ambitions.
Watching the funeral of someone I love through railings from a distance.
Being without hot water for 6 years and counting because I can’t deal with all it entails to get it repaired.
The double bind of feeling the guilt of either rebutting people’s attempts at conversation due to my panic, or feeling the
rejection of people not trying to make conversation with me due to my social phobia.
Years letting my self-care slip due to not being able to go to the hairdresser, the dentist, the optician etc.
Staying up until 4am to go food shopping because that’s when I’m least likely to meet anyone.
Spending Christmas, New Year and Birthdays alone.
My throat hurting from saying a few sentences because I’ve spent so long without anyone to talk to that I’ve hampered my
physical ability to speak.
Not being able to answer my phone or my door, and feeling sick when these occasions arise.
Being perceived by others as aloof, stand-offish and unfriendly.
What helps you?
I’ve occasionally been told by well-meaning people it’s ok to be ‘introverted’ and solitary and I agree; it is! I am however, not
introverted and really like having friends and being with people; I just have difficulty with the social interaction involved. Over the
years I have found a few ways to bridge this paradox:
I have managed to get to know a few people very well through communicating online. This has enabled people to get to
know me as a person without the barriers caused by face to face social interaction. I have even been able to meet some of
them in real-life and still managed to get on well with them as they knew what I was really like underneath my phobic
I made a real-life friend who genuinely didn’t mind whether or not I was able to speak when we met, assuring me she would
just enjoy the peace and quiet if I sat in silence and would not find the experience uncomfortable. Without the stressful
expectations of interaction, I was actually able to relax enough to be myself and built up a good, supportive relationship that
negated the need for the abusive partner I had at the time.
Dealing with social interactions as they arise rather than spending time dreading them and letting my anxiety build up is
usually helpful but is an extremely difficult strategy to implement. It is much, much easier said than done.
CBT has taught me to have a degree of acceptance of my limitations. Working within these means I don’t put so much
pressure on myself, resulting in less anxiety and a greater chance of achieving more that I thought I could.
Attending Changes meetings, though very stressful for me, led to becoming more involved with Changes behind the scenes.
This has given me opportunities to become a useful member of the organisation and I’ve even made new friends.
Do you have bi-polar disorder or psychosis? Could you share your mental health experiences with our readers? You could write about them
yourself or arrange to be interviewed either in person or via email/Facebook for future issues. Please contact
[email protected] if you can help.
We asked for pet photos. We got them. Enjoy!
My beautiful Ruby.
Luis is 15
This is Billy. Billy knows when I am unwell
before I do. He doesn’t leave me when
I’m crashed on the sofa.
This is Tommy Thomas. We call him Psycho!
If you have any pet photos please send them to
The growing season is upon us once more - so why not come down to the
Changes Allotment in Fishponds to get involved?
Growing vegetables has been widely shown to improve people's mental
health, and it's not surprising why. Working outdoors, getting fresh air,
doing something productive, being close to nature - all these things can be
I plan to go down to the
weekends and some
weekdays, so if you'd
like to join me just call
me on 07903 053 228
Access is via
Hawkesbury Road, just
off Fishponds Road.
We have a hidden group on Facebook and once you have attended three
meetings you are very welcome to join. There’s chat, news and updates about
Changes, links to mental health articles, copies of all the modules available to
download, files to help with ESA forms, as well as motivational and thought
provoking concepts and ideas.
Once you have joined the group, none of your Facebook friends will be able to
see you are a member or see that you have posted or are involved with the
group in any way. We particularly encourage facilitators or anyone who could
represent their group to join up so they can feed back any useful information to
To join our TOP SECRET Facebook group simply go to the web address
“www.facebook.com/bristolchanges” and add as a friend. Upon approval, you will
receive an invitation in your notifications to join the group. When you have joined
you can then delete your new Changes friend if you wish to remove any traces of
your involvement with Changes on your Facebook account. The group will be
accessible by clicking on the name of the group that is found on the left hand bar of
your newsfeed page like this...
There will be no Bedminster meeting on Friday 29th March or Barton hill meeting on Monday 1st April due
to the Easter break.
The next newsletter will be out on Thursday 18th April, the deadline for submissions is Friday 12th April.
Please email submissions to [email protected]