Free community activities for wellbeing
Art - Crafts - Cookery - Garden

Welcome! We are a voluntary organisation for adults (aged 18 and above) who live in the Ashdown Forest area of Sussex.
We provide free weekly activity groups with a focus on well-being, community and reducing stress.
We offer a place to connect with others and we try to make joining a creative activity as easy as we can.

About Us

We are The Ashdown Hub CIO (Registered Charity number 1192088). We are a voluntary organisation in The Ashdown Forest area (East and West Sussex and part of Surrey).
Contact us for information.
We aim to support adults (+18). We believe that community and creativity are essential to health, and we should make accessing these as easy as we can, and try and include a diverse group of people. That's why we offer a variety of free activities, run by trained volunteers, every week. People tell us they are enjoyable and they feel included and connected to neighbours and other people in the community
If you want to meet new people, learn and practice creative skills, and support your health, please get in touch.
Thanks to donations, all the groups are currently free to participants.

Have you considered joining one of our groups?

It's well known that creative activities, connecting with others, and spending time in nature is good for well being.
However sometimes it's easier said than done! Continuing these activities (or having the confidence to start something new) can be especially difficult during times of illness and stress. Money is tight for many people these days and activities often cost too much to be possible.
We try to get over barriers and aim to include people wherever we can- so long as everyone is kind and respectful to others.
If you think you might need extra help to join in, or there are barriers such as mobility problems, disability, mental health or lack of confidence, we are happy to think together about what would make things easier. Please do get in touch in this case and we can arrange a confidential conversation with a group leader to think together about what would be helpful and see if we can help.Click here for more information about us.

Our Groups

Art groups in local accessible spaces.

We current run a number of groups at accessible sites like local museums and libraries. Contact us to find out the program for the next half term.

Friday Groups

If you're interested in arts, gardening, or cookery, check out our groups at the Tobias School of Art in East Grinstead RH19 4LZ on Fridays from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Different groups run during the day with a focus is on nature, and creativity. You can come for one group or stay for the day.Adopter group:We host a group for adopters at any stage after adoption. This meets every half term. Contact us for more details.

Free of charge

All our groups are currently free of charge.We also offer free materials and drinks for our regular weekly groups.For our “Art for relaxation” workshops we ask for £3 per session materials costs.How can groups be free?Grants and volunteering!
Grants which have recently helped us to continue to offer groups free of charge for participants include from: Gardening with Disabilities Trust, The Chalk Hill Trust, The National Lottery, Local Giving, The Henry Smith Charity, The Forrester Family Trust, Sussex Community Foundation, Our local Council, local groups such as The East Grinstead Lions and The East Grinstead Memorial Trust, and donations from kind individuals (both time, materials and money).
We also thank Tobias School of Art and Counselling for gifting us their space for the Friday groups.
We thank everyone who has volunteered their time and offered gifts and services at below market rate, which is what keeps us running.
Please contact us for more info or to book a place.You can also phone or text 07923930352. This is an answerphone so leave a message and we'll call back.

What people say about the groups:

"The Ashdown hub has been a blessing in my life … I’ve been met with so much help , warmth understanding all unconditional … the volunteers at the Tuesday art group have been so lovely, welcoming and helpful no matter the struggles in their own lives and regardless of any difficulties I’ve always been included and welcomed.. thank you for making me feel valued no matter the circumstance… I will forever be grateful to each and every person who walked thought the doors"
"A supportive and fun group. Lots of opportunities to try something new and plenty of materials. Without any pressure."
Ashdown Hub is a truly exceptional community-orientated initiative bringing so much gentle, encouraging support with unconditional kindness and the opportunity to experience and learn new skills and creativity amongst friendly like minded people. Jaquie and Sarah are always welcoming, friendly and thoroughly reassuring to newcomers. Thank you for changing lives and inspiring us all, we're truly grateful 🙏
"It kept me going at a difficult time"
"So peaceful to put the phone away and be outside for a change.""The group is the main thing I've been looking forward to.""I have benefited hugely from the groups.""they have been a reliable oasis""I feel so much better each week for coming and really notice when I miss a week.""just giving myself some space has really helped. I don't do this at all apart from the group""I feel hopeful."

If you might like to come, you are welcome to try a session out or to get information about groups here.
contact us to book a space or for info.

How can you help us:

- If offered a weekly slot, try to come regularly to make the most of the space and treat everyone with respect and kindness.
- Consider joining our amazing team of volunteers - they are the heart of our organization and we aim to offer good training and support.
- If you're able to donate, we need you!Donations, big or small, go directly to the groups and we use money extremely carefully.Please donate via the Local Giving icon above, make us your easyfundraising charity so each time you shop online, we get a donation without it costing you anything. Our registered charity number is 1192088.

Get in touch

Our answerphone number is 07923930352 (for info about a group or to book a space, please leave a message, or text us, and we will call back in the next week)Or, please use the form below or email [email protected] to contact us - we'd love to hear from you and answer any questions.For urgent mental health support organisation numbers, click here.Our privacy policy can be found here.

About Art Journalling

Art Journalling- a "conversation with yourself"We ran a Zoom Art Journalling group through lock-down. People told us this was a really eye-opening and helpful technique. The Zoom group has now finished as we start our in-person groups, but please feel free to look through this information in case you want to try it out yourself.
This is a safe technique but as always, if you are under the care of a health professional, let them know you plan to try this out and check it's right for you.
What is visual journalling?
There's lots of info here and some of our volunteers have made a video discussing the technique. You can see this on YouTube
Well-known psychologist and arts therapist Cathy Malchiodi has written a helpful article and we have her permission to share this with you click here
What is it?
Basically you take time to check in with your body and your feelings each day and make an image (it doesn't have to be a great work of art). Then you look at and think about what you have made.
Does this sound light-weight? Don't dismiss it! Simple things can be powerful and this is one of our favourite techniques for getting to know your own mind, so we'd love you to try it out.
It's an evidence-based, rewarding practice to promote good mental health
Do I need to be artistic?
No! Not at all. This isn't an art class and you don't need to be able to draw anything recognisable! You don't even need to show anyone else what you've made. There are options to take photos, make models or do scrapbooking if you hate drawing.
What do I need?
A pen and some scrap paper is enough but you could use coloured pens, paints, old catalogues or you can use your phone. A plain drawing pad is really useful if you have one but not essential.
Click here for basic instructions. Wishing you happy journalling and good mental health!

More about us

We offer activity-based groups to support wellbeing and mental health.We aren't a crisis service and don't provide treatment. Click here if you need urgent help.Our groups are very simple. We meet once a week with the same small group of people do an activity and check in.Facilitators make sure groups are safe, respectful and welcoming for all and we have a code of conduct for participating.We are not linked to any church, religious or political group and are open to all.If you are a professional referring a potential participant, please click here for informationIt costs the charity at least £60 for one person to attend for a 12-week group (venue, admin/IT, insurance, materials, activity tuition etc)
If you can make a donation of any amount towards this cost or to pay for someone else to attend in future (quietly, using the button below) we would be grateful. We will not ask for money in the groups and donations are not needed to join.
Please donate here

© The Ashdown Hub, 2020. All rights reserved.

Thank you for being in touch

Your message has been received.One of our team will be in touch, usually within in the next week. If you need urgent mental health help, please click here.

Urgent Help

Finding support for mental healthIf you’re worried about your mental health, we warmly encourage you to seek support.In a health emergency, please call 999 or attend your nearest A&ESussex Mental Healthline:
0800 0309500
24/7 free telephone service offering listening support, advice, information, and signposting to anyone experiencing difficulties with their mental health.
General health support and information:Contact your GP (or community mental health team if you have one)
Call 111 or see for physical or mental health advice
Other organisations/ charities who might be helpfulSamaritans
Free emotional support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
116 123 (Freephone 24 hours a day)
Mind provides advice, resources and support to empower people experiencing mental health problems
0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Mon-Friday except bank holidays)
SilverlineFor people over 55. Confidential, free helpline open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
0800 4 70 80
Sussex Mental Healthline can provide details of other organisations which support mental health (0800 0309500) - there are many other organisations and this list is just a start.

Privacy Document

Please find our privacy document attached below.GDPR
Organisation: The Ashdown Hub CIO, e-mail: [email protected].
Volunteers and employees from The Ashdown Hub who process your personal data will be called “we” in this document.We are committed to protecting your personal information.This privacy notice relates to our use of your personal information.Personal data (any information identifiably about you) may be collected from you in person, by letter, e-mail or over the telephone.
We collect and process personal and sensitive data (for example data about your mental health) in order to contact you to inform you about our groups, to ensure safety and suitability of our service for you and other group members and to keep a clinical record of your attendances at a therapeutic support group.
We will ensure that data is accurate, relevant and limited to what is necessary to run our group.What information we collectWe will collect and process information when you contact us to express an interest in our organisation.At the point of initial enquiry, we will respond by email to ask you for personal data, in order to arrange a phone call to tell you more about our service.We will ask for, and record:
- Details of enquiry
- Name
- Telephone number
- e-mail address
Our email system is Protonmail, which is a secure, encrypted email system. There is information available from proton mail about their security and encryption you are interested in joining a group, a trained member of the team will arrange a time for a brief, confidential phone call to seek more information. This includes details of your health background and your past experience in groups. This is to ensure safety to participate.We ask for the name of your GP surgery and your address, for use in the case of emergency only.After this phone call and each group session, we make a record.
We store your data from your assessment and group sessions on a password-protected clinical records system (
This is not your NHS medical record.
Here is what Smilenotes says about the safety of data in their record system “All transmitted data is encrypted during transfer using SSL technology. Our data storage facilities (based in the UK and Amsterdam) maintain extremely high standards of security, and include safeguards such as biometric readers for access, 24/7/365 on site security and security cameras.
All patient/client data (including uploads) is encrypted at rest using AES. All of your client/patient data stays within the EU and strictly meets the requirements set out by the ICO.” source last accessed 24/10/2020
We will ask for your permission to contact you by phone, text and email. We will ask for your preferences about this. You can update and change preferences at any time. We will also ask for an optional emergency contact number and first name in the unlikely event you are incapacitated during a group session. Please seek your contact’s permission before providing us with their number.
How we use this informationWe use the information you give us:- To provide a legal record of your attendance at a group and activities, support or advice we provide.
- To ensure continuity of care during your time with our service, for example transferring between groups.
- For accounts and grant-seeking purposes.
- To contact you about your ongoing group.
- To contact you, if you consent to this, when new groups or events with our organisation become available that may be of benefit to you.
- At your request and with your consent, to liaise with health or social professionals involved in your care
- To seek emergency help if we believe you or others are at risk of harm
- For quality feedback and audit purposes.
Our lawful basis for processing your personal and sensitive data, is legitimate need in order to provide information about groups, contractual need in order to offer support group services and legal requirement to keep a health record of participation in therapeutic activity support groups.We do not pass on your information for commercial purposes.We take all reasonable steps to ensure that our information is kept up to date and rectified if necessary. It is your responsibility to inform us if any personal information changes, in order that our records are accurate.Links to External WebsitesOur website does not record your data unless you send us a message via "contact us”.On our website, there are links to external websites for mental health information or support. We also have links to JustGiving and Amazon Smile. We also have a link to sign up to our newsletter by providing your email address to Mailchimp.
These are separate organisations. Please see these websites' and organisations' individual privacy and personal handling information before clicking on these links or providing any data.
How long do we keep personal information?We keep your personal data for no longer than reasonably necessary.
We are legally required to retain health records for 8 years after your last clinical contact.
We may retain electronic records indefinitely for use if you return for another episode of care within 8 years and for analytical purposes.You are under no statutory or contractual requirement or obligation to provide us with your personal or sensitive data but failure to do so may mean you are not able to participate in group activities.Sharing your personal data.We do not normally share your data or information with any person outside our organisation.If you ask us to contact professionals involved in your care (for example your doctor, mental health professional or other health or care professional), we may share data with your consent.This information would normally be passed on in the form of a written letter which is given to you – if this is the case, the letter becomes your responsibility and the protection of its contents is your responsibility.If the information is passed electronically by email, it will be with your consent, by secure, encrypted email. We will take all reasonable precautions to transmit the information securely.We have a professional duty to share your personal information if this necessary to prevent serious harm to your health or safety, or that of another person.If we believe this is necessary, we will discuss this with you as soon as we can. If there is an immediate risk to health or safety and we cannot discuss this with you, we will share personal data to prevent harm (for example with the emergency services or adult safeguarding team) and will discuss this with you as soon as possible.How do we protect your information?We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect.Controlling your personal informationYou are entitled to request a copy of the personal information we hold about you and to have any discrepancies rectified if appropriate. If you believe that any information we are holding on you is incorrect or incomplete, please write to or email us and we will promptly correct any information where legally possible.You are entitled to request that we transfer your data direct to another controller and to request that your personal data is erased where it is no longer necessary to retain it.We will not sell, distribute or lease your personal information to third parties unless we have your permission or are required by law to do so.We confirm that we do not transfer data abroad or use any form of automated decision making in our business.Changes to our privacy policyAll changes will be notified on our website.
Any questions or complaints regarding this privacy notice should be addressed to:
The Trustees, The Ashdown Hub CIO (last reviewed 26/04/2022)

Visual JournallingWe want to share this technique with you that we have used with other people for some time. It was part of a Zoom group over lock down.
Clinical volunteers Jeanne-Claire and Jo had a chat on zoom about this practice around this time and we keep this recording below in case it's helpful
YouTube video
We don’t know you in person yet, and so don’t know your background. If you are reading along and having a go, and something doesn’t feel comfortable or suitable for you, don’t do it. If you are under professional care, please discuss your plans to try this technique and its suitability for you at the moment
If you need to change something in these instructions to make journalling more comfortable to do, this is fine. If you are worried about your mental health, please click here
1. Finding the right time, being readyGive yourself the gift of some time each day for this supportive practice.
We know this can be easier said than done. 30 minutes to an hour is ideal, but 10 minutes would do. It can help to aim for the same time each day.
Try to find a quiet period where you won’t be disturbed, at a time you won’t forget. Make sure you are comfortable, and aren’t hungry or cold. You can even set an alarm to remind you of your practice time.
Gather together some materials before you start (these could be pen and paper but if you have the following then they might be helpful and fun to use: coloured pencils, pens, old catalogues, scissors and glue, modelling clay or materials, phone for photos)
2. Check in with yourself, with curiosity and kindness.Your body:Here are some basic instructions we find helpful in checking in with the body, but if they don’t suit you, feel free to adapt them.Sitting upright in a supportive chair with your feet comfortably on the floor
Check in with your body: ask how is my body feeling today?
Really trying to notice what is there, with a friendly curiosity, without trying to change anything. Can you feel your feet today? Perhaps the soles of your feet are resting on the floor. How does this feel? Are you able to feel your toes? All of them? Perhaps you aren’t. That’s OK. Perhaps there are intense feelings, or buzzing, itching, hot or cold. That’s all OK. Scan your body. Are there areas of muscle tension, perhaps in the hips, in the tummy area, in the shoulders or jaw. It’s OK if there are. Just noticing and not trying to change what you find. Which parts of your body are you most aware of? Are the feelings intense? Pleasant? Are they there all the time or do they come and go? Being curious about the areas of the body you aren’t noticing at the moment. How is your tummy feeling today? Is there churning, or rumbling? How about the breath? Can you feel the rhythmical movement of the chest wall and tummy? Perhaps you notice the steady flow of breath in and out past the nostrils?
Your feelings?Ask yourself “How am I feeling today?”.
If I had to find some words for my mood, what would they be? Are the feelings intense? Are they a mixture of feelings, partly feeling one thing and partly something else? Really try to look hard and be curious without criticising what you notice or trying to change it.
Are you perhaps feeling nothing at all? It is fine to feel whatever you are feeling, whether this is pleasant or unpleasant, strong or even not there at all, and also to struggle to put words to what you are feeling. Just noticing with kindly attention
You might like to glance down a list of feeling words to help with this (you can find these online easily by googling “list of feelings”. The Hoffman Institute has a good list, for example and it might help to print it out)
3. Try drawing or making an image of how you feel.
This sounds hard, but there are lots of techniques to help and it’s important just to have a go- you can’t get it wrong.
Here are three simple options:
Scribble what you feel in your body:
Take a pen and scribble on the paper. If you feel churning in your tummy, maybe draw a swirl in the middle of the page, and maybe you have a heavy head so you draw lots of lines at the top of the page
“I made the image below on a day I didn’t know what I felt, and bits of me felt different, so I just tried to draw what I felt as best I could”

Choose one colour
Have a few different coloured pencils and chose just one or two colours each day to make any marks or drawing that comes to mind after checking in with body and feelings.

“I drew the picture above on a difficult day, when I couldn’t feel anything, but as I wondered about feeling nothing, and tried to think exactly how I could tell I was feeling nothing, I became aware of my feet and warmth over my head. I felt better after making it”

Cutting out or using photos:
Tear or cut out images from a paper, or chose a photo from your album that most matches how you feel. It doesn’t matter what it is- so long as it appeals to you and seems to match how you feel in some way.
“The picture below was something I cut out of a catalogue and stuck in my journal. It was an image of Christmas lights. I felt it was hopeful, sparkly, sociable, comfortable”

“When I drew the picture above, I was feeling scratchy and irritable, and also hurried. I poked the pencil hard on the paper. It was quite aggressive. I felt better after doing this”

“I took the photo above on my phone when I was on a walk, feeling a bit numb, flat and like I was “up against it”. It was cold and grey, and the wind had blown this hawthorn over, but it was still growing. It seemed to connect with how I was feeling”4. Reflection timeOnce you’ve done your drawing/ photo or other image, check back in with yourself.
How did it feel while you were making the image? If you couldn’t make an image and are staring at a blank page, that’s OK. How does this feel? If you forget to make an image one day, that’s OK too- try getting back to it the next day
How do you feel now? Has anything changed?
Are you pleased with the image? If it could talk to you, what might it say?
If you like, make a few notes about this (but you don’t have to)
Looking at the record over time:
Keep an eye on your journal over time. Sometimes an image that didn’t seem important at the time feels important looking back.
If you are making loose images, try to keep them in a folder or box, or take photos. Sometimes looking at the image the next day can be interesting, or taking a time to look back over a week. Are you seeing any themes? Do you feel the same each day or do your feelings change?
If things are difficult, do you need any help? We aren't a treatment or emergency service but click here for urgent help
It can be really helpful to join a group and discuss your journalling experience with others. A group won’t be critical of anything you have noticed and your experience might help others.
There is evidence that this kind of mindfulness of your feelings, and the experience of connecting to them in this creative way, can be very helpful to mental wellbeing.
The ScienceThere is scientific evidence for this practice, and we’re happy to share some of what we’ve enjoyed reading, and learning about this area (below):Visual journalling is the kind of practice it is difficult to study and is based on years of clinical experience, for example many art psychotherapists will use it. It is hard to evaluate the benefits of being really in touch with how you are feeling and put figures to this, but here are some studies you might be interested in.Mercer, A., Warson, E. and Zhao, J., 2010. Visual journaling: An intervention to influence stress, anxiety and affect levels in medical students. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 37(2), pp.143-148.
This study followed some medical students who kept a visual journal. They reported their mood improved and they were less anxious
Martin, L., Oepen, R., Bauer, K., Nottensteiner, A., Mergheim, K., Gruber, H. and Koch, S.C., 2018. Creative arts interventions for stress management and prevention—a systematic review. Behavioral Sciences, 8(2), p.28.
This was research looking at a number of different artistic practices for stress management and reported that arts can be very helpful in stress reduction
Kaimal, G., Ray, K. and Muniz, J., 2016. Reduction of cortisol levels and participants' responses following art making. Art therapy, 33(2), pp.74-80.
This study looked at stress hormones before and after art making and found they went down
The practice we are doing before doing our journalling is a type of mindfulness. There are lots and lots of studies showing the benefit of mindfulness for mental health. Here are a couple of recent studies:Reangsing, C., Rittiwong, T. and Schneider, J.K., 2020. Effects of mindfulness meditation interventions on depression in older adults: A meta-analysis. Aging & Mental Health, pp.1-10.
This showed mindfulness is helpful in depression for older people
Blanck, P., Perleth, S., Heidenreich, T., Kröger, P., Ditzen, B., Bents, H. and Mander, J., 2018. Effects of mindfulness exercises as stand-alone intervention on symptoms of anxiety and depression: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 102, pp.25-35.
This showed that mindfulness has a positive impact on depression and anxiety
These books might be useful for background readingHeaversedge, J. and Halliwell, E., 2012. The Mindful Manifesto. Hay House, Inc.Leavy, P. ed., 2017. Handbook of arts-based research. Guilford Publications.Cameron, J.ed 2016. The Artists’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative SelfPlease let us know how you get on with your visual journalling, and if you need any help. We wish you well!

“I found these 6 toy ducks. Every day for a while, I spent some time being mindful of my feelings and then moved the ducks around and took a photo. Sometimes the “ducks were in a row”, and sometimes they weren’t. I enjoyed this practice and it was really quick. I kept the ducks on the table and did this just after breakfast most days for a few weeks”

Code of conduct for participants at The Ashdown Hub
We want our group to be safe and friendly.
These are rules we have agreed together for all participants, volunteers and staff.
Please ask if you want any more details or if you have suggestions
Alcohol or illegal drugs must never be brought to the group.Anyone noticeably under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs will be politely asked to leave that session.Everyone is equally welcome. No form of discrimination will be tolerated. This includes discrimination on the basis of race, gender, colour or religion.We are a kind group. Bullying or intimidating behaviour of any form is not OK. We give each other our kindly attention and silence phones.We are a safe group. Violence or threat of violence (physical or verbal) is not OK.We are a confidential group. Any personal information shared by participants must remain strictly confidential. We don’t take photos of anyone in the group, or of their work, without permission. For online groups, we ensure we access the group in a private space.
There are a few exceptions. All participants must agree that Ashdown Hub staff work as a team and can share information with each other.
Participants understand staff must break confidentiality and disclose information to a third party, if staff believe a participant may be at significant risk of harm to themselves or others. Examples of a third party include the police, health or social services.
We are a caring group. If a participant is worried about the health or safety of another participant, they agree to encourage that participant to seek professional help and/ or speak to a member of staff or volunteer. Participants will not support others alone or keep concerns secret from the group.
Whilst participants may form friendships outside the group, they will keep discussion of issues raised in the group to the group. Group members will not start intimate relationships with each other whilst attending the group.
Under no circumstances must any participant ask to borrow money from any other participantSwearing is not OK.This is a safe, considerate space for all. Sexual behaviour, whether physical or verbal, is not OK in the groups.

Here are some resources from our group:A nice video from colleagues in Torquay here: are some poems we have read in the groups:The Moment by Marie Howe
Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment
when, nothing
no what-have-I-to-do-today-list
maybe half a moment
the rush of traffic stops.
The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be
slows to silence,
the white cotton curtains hanging still
The Owl Cries at night by Freya Manfred
The owl cries at night,
and I imagine her wide gold eyes
and feathered ears tuned
to the trembling woods and waters,
seeing and hearing what
I will never see or hear:
a red fox with one bloody paw,
a hunchbacked rabbit running,
sand grains grating on the shore,
a brown leaf crackling
under a brown mouse foot.
With so much to learn,
I could stop writing forever
and still live well.
The Ink Dark Moon by Izumi Shikibu
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house
Enough by David Whyte
Enough. These few words are enough
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused again and again
Until now.
Until now.
It felt love by Haziz
How did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
all its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its being.
we remain
Too frightened.
Wild Geese
Mary Oliver
You do not need to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
The Patience of Ordinary Things. Pat Schneider
It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes,
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they're supposed to be.
I've been thinking about the patience of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs. And what is more generous than a window?
A Gift. Denise LevertovJust when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.
Kindness. Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
You must lose things, feel the future dissolve
in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the
Indian in a white poncho lies dead
by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you, how he
too was someone who journeyed through the night
with plans and the simple breath
that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow
as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness
that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
Joy in Life Thich Nhat HanhYou must be completely awake in the present
to enjoy the tea.
Only in the awareness of the present,
can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.
Only in the present, can you savour the aroma,
taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.
If you are ruminating about the past,
or worrying about the future,
you will completely miss the experience
of enjoying the cup of tea.
You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.
Life is like that.
If you are not fully present,
you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma,
the delicacy and beauty of life.
It will seem to be speeding past you.
The past is finished.
Learn from it and let it go.
The future is not even here yet.
Plan for it,
but do not waste your time worrying about it.
Worrying is worthless.
When you stop ruminating about
what has already happened,
when you stop worrying about
what might
never happen,
then you will be in the present moment.
Then you will begin to experience joy in life.
The Bright Field R.S. Thomas
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

You can play lots of different creative story games in our group. Here's an example. You sit around a table with a group of others, all have paper. You draw first one line, then, under it 3 lines, under this five lines, under this seven lines, under this five lines, under this three lines, under this one line.
You write a single word on your paper- any word. The everyone passes it clockwise round the table.
You read the word and fill in the three blanks underneath with words.
You end up making poems. Here are some examples. They can be profound and there are no wrong answers :)

Information for colleaguesThanks for being interested in our groups. We really enjoy connecting with colleagues.If your patient or client wishes to try a group, we recommend they (or you- with their consent) get in touch via our contact page for more information.
This needn't be a long initial referral- contact details are enough, but we appreciate if professionals comment where needed on any support needs or risk/ areas to be aware of that may help us in our groups.
We will arrange a phone call with potential participants before a group. This is a friendly call of about half an hour to provide details about the group, to learn any health information or needs the participant wishes to tell us and to talk about how to make joining in as easy as possible. Sometimes we can do this face-to-face if phoning is difficult.
Although we work simply and in a boundaried way in the groups, we have thought hard about making the groups as safe and helpful as possible.
We have a number of very experienced clinicians (registered counsellors, GPs, psychotherapists) working with us and supporting our work.
Professionals referring participants to us should know we are are a registered charity (Registered charity number 1192088), have registered clinicians in the volunteer and advisory team, and volunteers are fully trained.
Our primary model is behavioural activation, along with group theory, CBT and mindfulness, but we draw on the wider professional experience of our clinical teams and subject teachers. We have a privacy policy, safeguarding policy, comprehensive insurance, undertake risk assessments and follow other best practice procedures, for example regarding clinical supervision, Covid, governance and are committed to facilitating safe and professional groups.
We are a member of MSVA, 3VA, and NVCO.
We have gained a Charities Excellence Framework Quality Mark for our ongoing work on our charity setup and governance.
Funding comes from reputable sources, who hold us to account, such as The National lottery, local council, Sussex Community Fund and other reputable trusts, as well as kindly individuals in the community.Participants have lots of opportunity to input into how each group runs- we will ask participants their opinion about what they want to do
We also try to adapt activities in order to include as many participants as possible. We can sometimes provide lifts and adapted activities.
We also look for simple ideas to contribute to the wider community because connecting in this way can be helpful for wellbeing.