Feature: Life Shares Art

Lifeshare’s flagship CARDS Project works with people aged 16-25 who are marginalized or vulnerable, supporting them in their journey back to independence and wellbeing. Some of the greatest challenges our service users face include low self-confidence or self-esteem, and a feeling of powerlessness.

To the CARDS Project, we have therefore added a new stream, led by volunteer Darren Adcock, that addresses the service users’ needs for expression through creativity, be that in the form of drawing, writing, collage or any other artistic activity. We believe in allowing people to have a creative experience of themselves and enabling a healthy way to express their personality and circumstance. Furthermore, we believe that providing this opportunity will build self-confidence and esteem, and engender feelings of empowerment and an air of reinvention.

The nature of our clients’ circumstances, however, means they typically have limited access to art and arts materials, and they frequently have a limited history of being creative or feeling part of a creative community. We therefore now use our existing drop-in service as an opportunity for service users to take part in creative activity as a focus group, developing a cultural identity for themselves while breaking negative cycles of cognitive associations of their peers and support needs. Ideally, the project will promote self-direction and assist service users to transfer their new skills, motivation and confidence built up in the workshops to their time outside of the service.

Already, the project has attracted the attention and support of the Castlefield Gallery and the internationally recognized Koestler Trust, in addition to local art material suppliers. Following an invitation for our clients to attend the 'Snail Porridge’ workshop and exhibition of artworks by offenders, we anticipate further support from more local galleries as the project develops. We also look forward to engaging with local arts workers and agencies who share our interests and objectives.

The artwork produced by our service users will be exhibited and promoted via Lifeshare's online gallery and social media, with a view to producing physical media that can be distributed and auctioned.

This project is led by Darren Adcock, a Lifeshare volunteer with over a decade of experience in the creative industry, ranging from art and physical media to music.

Client Services

As most of you know, we provide three key services at Lifeshare: our flagship CARDS Project from the office on Houldsworth St; our Christmas Project from Dantzic St; and the Weekend Breakfast Project, also operating out of Dantzic St. Whenever we can find the resources, we aim to expand the range of services that we provide to our clients, and are delighted to announce one of the recent initiatives led by our volunteers.

Following significant interest from healthcare professionals who volunteered at our Christmas Project, basic healthcare and wellbeing services are now being provided on the last Sunday of every month. Not only does this enable us to provide additional support and basic treatment but, more importantly, allows us to assist service users in registering with mainstream services so that they can access healthcare throughout the year. Take-up of the service has been steady and much appreciated by service users, and we are indebted to the dedicated volunteers who have made this happen. Further details and a full acknowledgment of these volunteers will follow in due course.

In addition, staff members Judy and Tez have completed training in testing for sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Having such expertise among our staff will enable us to extend further the range of services we can offer to our clients who have difficulty accessing mainstream healthcare services.

Fundraisers

At Lifeshare, we try to make the best use possible of all of the donations we receive, including items we cannot give directly to our service users. On 29 June, volunteer Lorraine Booth led a stall on Ashton Market to exchange surplus donated goods for cash that we can reinvest into our projects. We are very grateful to Lorraine for this initiative, and delighted that the stall raised £242.

Lifeshare’s Team Leader, Judy Vickers, has been leading a similar sale at the Eighth Day Cafe on Oxford Rd on the last Saturday of every month. This event has not only raised funds for our CARDS Project, but also raises Lifeshare’s profile through exposure to, and engagement with, the public.

A fundraiser at the Northern Quarter's Kraak Gallery raised £45 to support the arts project, in addition to providing valuable exposure of the project among the arts community.

Sponsored Events

On 6 April, two Lifeshare supporters completed a gruelling Greater Manchester Marathon to raise funds for the work we do. We are very grateful to these two fundraisers, Craig Burke (raised £410) and Russell Barnes (raised £308).

The Great Manchester Run (or “Manchester 10k”) - always a popular draw for Lifeshare supporters - was held on a very warm 18 May. Among the Lifeshare supporters who took part were supporters Kelly Dee Leach (raised £240) and Emily and Fran (raised £305).

We are especially grateful to all those who support our work through sponsored events. The “unrestricted” nature of the funds raised means we can use the money where it is most needed.

Coming Up

Volunteers Melanie, Nicola and Mark (among others) from our Weekend Breakfast Project are making plans to take on the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing the three highest peaks in England (Scafell Pike), Wales (Snowdon) and Scotland (Ben Nevis) in just 24 hours! We wish them the best of luck in their preparations and hope to bring you a full report in due course.

Do let us know if you are planning to take part in any sponsored event on our behalf - we would love to help you promote your efforts through our website and social media networks.

Donations

At Lifeshare, we are always very grateful for the generous donations from our supporters, both corporations (such as Fred Aldous and H Blythe & Co who donated materials for our arts project) and individuals (such as volunteer Lynn who donated money with which we bought a brand new commercial freezer).

If you would like to make a donation, you can do so easily via our website, by direct debit, or via JustTextGiving (simply text LSUK00 £10 to 70070 to donate £10, for example.)

If you would prefer to provide goods, however, we welcome any donations of food or clothing at our Dantzic St premises (see the picture below for suggested donations). We are particularly running low on mugs at our Breakfast Project, and would be grateful for any items you can spare.

Volunteering

We begin our preparations for the Christmas Project in September, and begin taking applications from volunteers in October. (It seems like only yesterday since last year’s project!) Reminders will go out before applications open so that you don’t miss out.

Corporate Team Challenges

As well as welcoming donations in kind from individuals, Lifeshare is also proud to host team visits for corporations as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and in conjunction with Business In The Community.

On 21 May, one of Lifeshare’s most valued corporate supporters, The Co-operative, provided a team of workers to sort through our recent donations of food and provide some muscle for an intensive clean of the kitchens at our Dantzic St premises.

Following the intensive clean, a team from Kellogg’s completed their second challenge this year, spending the whole of 5 June repainting the kitchen and other areas of the building.

Finally, on 9 June a team from another long-term corporate supporter emptied our freezer store room, repainted the room from floor to ceiling, and installed four brand new chest freezers.

Dantzic St is certainly undergoing an amazing transformation, and we couldn’t be happier.

Coming Up

In the coming months, we expect to be hosting a number of teams who will be undertaking various decorating and refurbishment work on our premises both at Dantzic St and Houldsworth St.

If you, or someone you know, are involved in a Corporate Social Responsibility scheme that you think would like to work with us, we would be very grateful to hear from you. You can reach us by telephone on 0161 235 0744 or by email on office@lifeshare.org.uk

Welcome

This quarter we have had the pleasure to welcome three new workers in addition to several new volunteers to the Breakfast Project:

  • Becky Vanden is our latest placement student, who has been working in our office as part of her studies.
  • Rob Williams, previously of the Citizens Advice Bureau, is now volunteering in our office, using his experience to provide support and advice to service users.
  • Emily Brooklyn is also volunteering in our office, and has experience at the Brooks Sexual Health service.

In Memoriam

Sadly, we also said farewell to Paul (Loki) Lockwood, a dedicated volunteer who recently passed away.

Paul came to Lifeshare as a volunteer in 2002 and worked with the team in the office at New Mount Street. We always knew when Paul was in because there was laughter and he always had a story to tell. He'd experienced homelessness and its associated lifestyle but was settled and making changes to his life back then. He took part on our Tuesday and Thursday outreach to vulnerable young men who were homeless and being sexually exploited. He never missed a run and was dedicated to the work we did and he made a huge impact by sharing his life experiences. He hated the idea that they were homeless.

Paul was dedicated to changing systems and being a voice for real people and he never lost touch with Lifeshare. Whether he popped in for a brew, raised money for us via gigging, gave some advice to someone or shared a life experience, he always made an impact.

Sadly Paul died very suddenly recently and left behind his precious son, his family and his friends who loved him. What he also left us with are treasured memories and even after death he managed to raise money for Lifeshare.

Instead of flowers at his funeral donations were made to Lifeshare and a fantastic £171.53p was raised for us. With a comment he made one cold winters evening whilst out on the van about some people not realising what young people have to go through, the funds have been allocated to an emergency B&B fund at the request of Paul and his family.

Lifeshare would like to thank the Lockwood family for raising these funds for Lifeshare and the CARDS project.

Rest in peace Paul (Loki) and be rest assured the people will always have a voice as long as Lifeshare are here. As the good man himself would have said...

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