Wednesdays at the successful Make and Bake group at Bath City Farm just got busier and busier over the last five years, to the point where the organisers of this mental health support group felt they just couldn’t give the mixed group the attention they all deserved. All members of the original Make and Bake group live with long-term mental health problems and found this group supportive and rewarding, boosting their mental health and helping break isolation.
So they decided to apply for a B&NES Community Wellness Grant to expand the group. Now, thanks to the grant for £1,998, the group can welcome an additional ten people, and the products they’re making and baking are helping raise funds for the Farm Shop, creating a virtuous circle.
Abigail has been coming to the Make and Bake group for five years to help with her own mental health and wellbeing and is now an active volunteer helping to run the sessions. “I retired from work on medical grounds after I was diagnosed with two serious mental health conditions. I was having six months off work every couple of years, I was so unwell. In the end my psychiatrist said I couldn’t work anymore and I was retired after 20 years of teaching. It was a relief in the end as I was so unwell but I miss the camaraderie of having colleagues, you miss the end of term do, the Christmas do.”
“I came up here with a support worker about five years ago. Here we have a Christmas meal together, volunteer barbecues, you’re volunteering but it’s like working, well the good bits (of working). Not only is it really interesting work, it’s like a little family, I come up here on a Wednesday and Thursday, I’m a key volunteer so I’m given more responsibility.”
Every Wednesday the new group are busy making beautiful things to sell in the farm shop. Group members can learn to sew, knit or felt, all while enjoying a welcome natter with other members over a cuppa.
From drawings to hair accessories and home decorations, everything they make raises vital funds so the Farm can support more people in need. The sessions are led by Alexia who is on hand to help with activities, give demonstrations and individual support.
Abigail has also been trained as a peer mentor by St Mungos and Avon and Wiltshire Partnership so she acts as a link between them and people who could benefit from coming to Bath City Farm to support their mental health and wellbeing.
“Coming to the group is about socialising, it stops us feeling isolated, some of the group would be really isolated if they didn’t come. People get two buses to come here, they love to come and chat with everyone, making friends, we do have a laugh,” Abigail said.
*Some names have been changed