Space allows reflection (and fun!)

One of our HeadsUp participants took their Peer Support Worker on a walk through Colchester Castle Park as part of a 1 to 1 meeting. They wanted to show the beauty within the grounds but also share a space where they often come to reflect and give time to their own wellbeing. The PSW enjoyed this so much that that she subsequently brought it to her own team meeting as she wanted to share with her team how humbling she had found it to actually take time to take in these surroundings. The team thought it sounded so wonderful they headed off after their meeting for a walk around Castle Park.

What they noticed from that 15 minute walk…

      • Daffodils were attempting to blossom- albeit slightly early for this time of year
      • The ground was littered with new buds of snow drops and forget me nots beginning to peak through the soil
      • The winter sun emphasised the beautiful sculptured gardens and almost amplified the magnitude of the Castle
      • The park was filled with sounds of birds singing and children laughing but was still so quiet- if that makes any sense at all!
      • There were fragrant smells from the herbs growing within the Mediterranean  garden- there was a wonderful lemon smell too but they couldn’t identify where that was coming from
      • There were different species of bees that were working in unison around a large honeysuckle tree
      • The inner child had not disappeared as they took to the zip wire for a team race!
      • Someone managed to hug three trees without the park ranger noticing!
      • One of the trees at the top of the park was gifted to Colchester in 1979, but what was fascinating was that a Holly bush appeared to have almost entered the tree and was growing from within its trunk
      • The stone water feature was beautiful. The way that the moss had started to form on the rock where the water was more still
      • The pond at the top of the park had its own beauty; wishes evident from the coins that have been tossed into the pond, the fish huddled together in the middle of the pond and the way the sun bounced off the surface creating a magical glare!
      • The local squirrels are tame and trusting…. but not that interested once they find out you have no food.

Time to breathe, relax, reflect, see, listen, feel…………..finding space is incredibly valuable, thank you to one of our own participants for reminding us of this.

New Skill Pods offer accessible employability skills training

One of the great things about HeadsUp is the way in which we’ve been able to adapt to meet the needs of those we work with over the life of the project. As we move into the next phase of grant funding we’ve taken the opportunity to develop a new role to provide even more structure to the employability skills we have been teaching.

Our new Development and Skills Officers have produced a series of sessions designed to help our participants with practical employability skills, such as putting together quality CVs or using IT equipment for accessing employment. These sessions run alongside the great work done by our Peer Support Workers and can help people who are looking to work or volunteer, or even those who just need some support to start job searching.

We’ve already helped participants to choose direction, set up email accounts, build CVs, and to search and apply for jobs. With a model of delivery that takes us all over Essex, we’re proud to be able to bring our sessions to a place near you. We can run these either on a one-to-one basis or in small groups- whatever is most suitable.

If you are already part of the project and are interested in taking part then speak to your Peer Support Worker, if you are not yet part of HeadsUp then why not give us a call to find out how we might be able to help you too!


The Impact of Peer Support – One Participants Amazing Journey

One of the best parts of being a Peer Support Worker on this project is seeing how everything we put into practice helps participants whose social anxiety, self-esteem and confidence is often at an all-time, and how through the process on HeadsUp (which is taken at their own individual pace) the anxiety lessens greatly. Lives are changing for the better and to see a person grow and flourish is so very rewarding.

One participant Andrew, initially couldn’t leave his house unaccompanied due to his social anxiety, anxiety and depression. Working together, having fortnightly one to one meetings in Costa Coffee, talking about his feelings about the past, present and future hopes and dreams, alongside taking small steps and setting achievable goals, he begin to look at life from a different perspective.

Andrew said;

“Having someone you can talk to and discover the way they see you, when you spend so much time in your own head space and only seeing yourself from your own point of view, it really made me appreciate others don’t see me the way I do.”

Gradually his confidence was growing, he took his children to the park, he began to speak out in group meetings (he finally felt he had a voice and something worthy to speak about) he began running and he enrolled on to a course at college( All things at one time he never thought were possible).

He has now run two half marathons, two 10k races and a few 5k runs over Christmas, two dressed as Santa!

He hopes to pass his exams and has been accepted at Anglia Ruskin University to start this September to train to become a Paramedic.

Andrew said;

“Being part of the HeadsUp Project, and with the additional support I’ve had from family and friends enabled me to also seek the medical help I needed too. So it was a combination of factors really and the small advances I made, built on one another until I actually felt quite good about myself and that hadn’t happened in a long while.

Having had a Peer Support Worker who genuinely cares about your situation and has the ability to help you overcome your doubts and see the strengths within yourself, you can grow and build a momentum that propels you forward to places you wouldn’t have dreamed of just a year or so before. For that, I will be forever grateful, they are a credit to your organisation.”

Our Colchester HeadsUp Participant knows best !

Monica joined HeadsUp in October 2017, and was with us for just over a year. During this time the support from our Peer Support Worker helped boost her confidence and overcome a lot of her personal barriers. She also achieved a Level 2 qualification in Customer Service.

Since leaving the programme Monica has popped in to see us now and again, to update us on her personal journey, and it was always lovely to see her.

In January 2020 we received a phone call from her, asking whether there were any volunteer roles at Signpost. With her bubbly personality and “can do” attitude, we didn’t hesitate to offer her a reception/admin post at Signpost Greenstead. From the very first moment she arrived she immersed herself in the role and grasped every opportunity to help others. We love having her here. And Monica is obviously really enjoying the experience too – here she sums it up in her own words:

“It’s all about applying yourself and growth, I can’t begin to express how happy am feeling right now. I totally enjoyed helping those clients it really gave me a sense of achievement. Certainly feel a confidence boost for sure. I’m very attuned to vibes people give off and Signpost simply gave positive vibes which put me at ease straight away. So looking forward to next week already.In life it really is never too late to aspire and achieve your own goals. It took a while and at my pace I got there. I’ll never not try.”