Over the Wall Applications are open! #25daysofkindness

I woke yesterday to find that Over the Wall had opened their volunteer applications and was immediately very happy 🙂 There may have been some singing of lemon and lime around the house 🍋

Over the Wall is a fantastic children’s charity and part of the Serious Fun Network. They provide free Therapeutic Recreation camps to families and children with life-limiting illnesses with “A place where kids can kick back, relax and raise a little hell” as put by Paul Newman.

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Over the past two years I’ve volunteered in Scotland and Staffordshire, at a health challenges camp in Perth and more recently at an Epilepsy Action family camp at Whitemoor Lakes in Staffordshire. I’ve been trying to find the words to properly describe my experience but nothing is quite enough. The children and families both taught me so much and I’ve never been part of such a friendly group of volunteers. I look back at my Warm Fuzzies whenever I need a reminder of the special place that is the camp bubble.

So what are you waiting for? Please consider applying, you can find the application form here and the dates for next year here. I promise you that you’ll never look back once you’ve experienced the magic of the camp bubble 🙂

In 2017 Over the Wall have two partnership camps, a Crohn’s & Colitis UK Family Camp and an Anaphylaxis Campaign Camper camp. If you know any children, young people or families who you think would like to go to camp please encourage them to apply here.

And to all my fellow Over the Wall volunteers & friends – Lemon and Lime…. 🍋

Reverse Advent for The Gingerbread Centre #25daysofkindness

Throughout the month of December I hope to complete an act of kindness every day. I hope to raise awareness of local charities and support those around us this Christmas who may be forgotten in the crazy rush that December can be. The first day of Christmas Kindness sees the beginning of the Reverse Advent Calendar for The Gingerbread Centre.

The Gingerbread Centre in Stoke on Trent provides support and accommodation for homeless families and single pregnant women. Throughout the year they provide supported accommodation for 22 homeless families, offer mental health support and education or workplace skills training. Catherine Court is also home to Gingerbread’s Young Parents supported accommodation unit, which provides support to pregnant or parenting teenagers ages 16-18 and their children.

The Reverse Advent Calendar is very easy to take part in. All that you need to do is add an item to the box each day and then get in touch when it is full and they will come and collected. These boxes will then be sorted through and distributed to those who need them most on the 20th December.

If you would like to find out more information about the Reverse Advent Calendar or would like a box to be delivered so you can take part click here.

Each day I will be updating with my #25daysofkindness act, please check back to see what I’ve been up to. It is all too easy to get bogged down in thinking you need more and more stuff to make you happy. My hope is that throughout this month I become more grateful for everything and spread a little happiness along the way 🙂

Time to Change Young Champions Training

In September I attended the Time to Change training weekend for Young Champions. The night before and most of the journey down I was very nervous about attending. Everything seemed to be trying to stop me from attending, from not being able to collect my train tickets, my contactless card not being read by the tube, going to a different station than I had planned and then getting lost. But having been to previous Time to Change events I knew it would be an amazing weekend and I was determined to get there!

From the moment I arrived I felt welcome and safe. I can’t describe what it feels like to be in a room full of 80 young people all with lived experience of mental illness. It is incredibly inspiring to hear other young peoples journeys through their mental illness, whatever stage they may be at.

As a Young Champion I will be sharing my own experience online and in schools, sharing posts about mental health and its importance and also raising awareness of the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

There were many tears and moments when  I heard other peoples stories and thought ‘I remember those days/that feeling’. But there were also so many happy moments and as a result I was able to reflect on where I am now and how I have got here. To be able to sit and eat lunch in the sunshine, chat about my experiences and listen to others stories. I also felt able to take 5 minutes out to get a cup of tea when I just needed some time. Both things a few years ago would never have happened.

Throughout October I will be posting updates about what I am doing as a Young Champion and how you can get involved so please check back 🙂

 

Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day. A day to appreciate and say thank you to all of the amazing women who have helped you to become the person that you are. I am very lucky to have many people who have inspired me as I’ve grown up, both family and friends.

To my family,

Thank you for…

Being there when I needed someone to chat to, about my happy day or what is on my mind.

The time you’ve given up to chat to me over coffee and your understanding heart.

All the hugs you’ve given me and all the happy time we’ve shared.

The meals out, the holidays, the days out and the big family meals together.

The times you’ve held my hand when I’ve been scared and for being my voice when I needed it.

And the way you’ve supported me, helped me to grow and never given up on me.

Thank you for always being the amazing, loving and caring people that you are ❤

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Autumn Adventures

Over the past few weeks I have had the chance to take part in some amazing adventures through volunteering. I will be posting more about them individually over the upcoming weeks but I wanted to share my happiness 🙂

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Recently I’ve taken part in 2 residential volunteering opportunities. Both are very different to each other but have brought me so much happiness and I am proud to say I was part of both of these. One thing the children and young people on these camps remind you is that anything is possible. That is something I always take away with me and I always leave happier than I arrived.  The photo is of a thank you that I received from Barretstown that reminded me why volunteers are so important.

Fireworks:

Yesterday I went to a Firework display in my local park. It was absolutely amazing and great to spend time with people who are important to me. We then went out to KFC which was a lovely added extra.

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I’ve recently joined this fantastic group called Happy Mail on Facebook. Everyone in the group is so friendly and I have met some
great people because of it. I have sent a few parcels to people and have afew more to send over the next few days. This is a photo of a beautiful parcel I received earlier in the week which made me smile lots!

Family time:

The only downside to all of this is that it means I’ve not spent much time with my family over the past few weeks. When I am away I miss them loads but I got to spend some happy time with them again this evening. I’ve also been very lucky to have a few lazy days with my boyfriend recently which I have absolutely loved ❤

A year since the start of my Team v adventure

It was a year ago that I was on the train to London for Team v’s welcome and induction day, how quickly has that gone? After only completing my interview two days before I was caught up in a whirlwind of excitement and it hadn’t quite sunk in that I had been successful. To get to the point where I was accepted was a success in itself for me and did not come easily.

Fast forward a year to now and I am happier, healthier and more confident than I could ever have imagined a year ago. I’ve completed tasks I never thought I would able to do such as running workshops in schools and talking on the radio. In the past year I’ve visited London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Coventry and Swindon.

This new found confidence has helped in all areas of my life. Academically, Team v has helped me to progress too. I am now studying a Health and Social Care course, I will be taking part in a 3 day first aid course which starts tomorrow and next week I begin my BSL course. This wouldn’t have been possible without the Team v Scholarship. I am happier than I have ever been, partly down to all of the amazing opportunities I’ve taken part in and also because of allowing myself to feel the love my family have for me.

Volunteering wise, I have taken part in residential camps for children with serious illnesses and with children who are deafblind. Both of these have been inspiring and I can’t wait to volunteer later this year with some similar organisations. My CV is now full of experience and finding new opportunities is so much easier.

I think it is important to look at how far you’ve come occasionally. It’s too easy to get caught up in chasing your dreams that you forget to look at how much has changed already. A big thank you has to go to my amazing family, I wouldn’t be doing what I am now without their support and encouragement. As well as the Team v staff who believed in me and supported me throughout the programme.

Next week I will be taking part in vInspired Ambassador training. This is something I am very excited about and will be writing more about over the upcoming weeks. I have loads of new and exciting opportunities over the next few months and I am sure this next year will be even better than the last.

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StoryCamp #1

On Thursday I will be attending StoryCamp, a day of workshops organised by the charity Time to Change. Time to Change is a charity tackling mental health stigma and discrimination. Everyone has mental health, just like we have physical health. However, often people do not talk about their mental health and struggle to get the help they deserve, through misunderstanding and fear of what other people may think. One in ten young people will experience a mental health problem.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to meet many young people who are also interested in mental health and hearing their stories. I will be sharing my own experiences, something which will be new to me. I know it will be a fantastic day and my nerves will pass as soon as the day begins.

I will be posting an update of the day on here next week but if you’d like to follow us on the day please check out #StoryCamp and this StoryCamp. This is the start of a new journey, a new range of blog posts and hopefully I will learn a lot along the way.

Talking about mental illness can be difficult, as can supporting someone through their journey of recovery. It can be incredibly scary at first and full of ‘what if’s…’. What if I’m not good enough? What if I am too fat/too thin? What if they think badly of me? I am sure everyone knows these questions.

So here is a little quote to remind you that you are enough & you are amazing 🙂

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Always be a little kinder than necessary…

It’s been a very long time since my last blog post, summer has flown by and been full of fantastic opportunities. Over the next few weeks I will hopefully be updating regularly about my summer and all of the exciting plans I have for the next few months.

My summer in short has been full of birthdays, family time, volunteering, meals out, reading, courses and of course more family time.

But for now here is a quote that has been on my mind a lot lately and something I am trying to achieve every day 🙂

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I am enough…

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At the start of July I spent a week in Scotland, volunteering as a Team Mate on Over the Wall’s Scotland camp for children with serious illnesses. Over the next few days I will be writing more about my experience of camp and what I have learnt but this seemed the perfect place to start.

I learnt a very important lesson at camp – I am enough. I am good enough to chase after my dreams, to make a difference in peoples lives and I am worthy enough of friendship, love and happiness.

On the last night our Team Leader asked us to write down a fear we had at the start of camp, both the campers and volunteers and asked us if anyone wanted to share. At that moment I wasn’t ready to share but I am now. My fear before camp was that I wouldn’t be enough. That I wouldn’t be good enough for camp, that I wouldn’t be able to support the campers like they needed, that I wouldn’t be as good as the other volunteers as I am not as loud and confident as them. How wrong was I?

Learning as much as I did wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the amazing Blue Girls volunteer team who not only encouraged and allowed me to be myself but reassured me that what I was doing was important and that my individuality was needed. I felt safe to try new things, push myself out of my comfort zone, sing silly songs as we walked around camp whilst wearing face paint and have the most fun I have ever had. A huge thank you to you all and to all of the Over the Wall volunteers and staff I met that week.

Please check back over the next few days to see more of the exciting adventures of camp and how it has changed my outlook on life. We can all do whatever we want to do and be who we want to be. But most importantly always remember to do whatever makes you happy and that you are always enough.

P.S. Always remember – You are amazing!

Day 7/100 of Summer Happy

Today has been filled with sun, colouring, ice cream, walking in the park and even more sun 🙂WP_20150607_002

In case you hadn’t guessed I love spending time outside in the sun. It makes me happy almost immediately and with
my new found hobby of colouring I can do two things at once that make me happy. What’s not to like? Adult colouring has taken off recently, with many people now spending a lot of money on colouring books and expensive pens. For me, colouring is a way of staying calm and releasing stress. It is something I can do almost regardless of my pain levels which makes it very useful on bad pain days. It is also teaching me about patience, of which I have very little! It is something I am working on and hope to improve over the next few months. Here is a photo of my latest piece, I have spent roughly 2 hours on this already and it probably still has at least another hour or so until it is complete.

This afternoon I went for a walk to the park with my boyfriend which I always enjoy. But today was extra special as I packed us a surprise picnic and we sat on the grass, ate lunch and ice cream too. We must have spent over an hour enjoying the sunshine and as soon as I got home I went straight out in the garden to soak up yet more sun!

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I’ve had a wonderful weekend and can’t believe I am at the end of week 1 of my 100 happy days of summer posts. This summer is going to fly by but I know I am going to meet some amazing people, create lasting memories and learn more about myself and those around me. I am excited 🙂

P.S. Always remember – You are amazing!