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MEET PARTICIPANTS


Adam's Story


Adam felt he had fallen through the cracks in his attempts to get help for his depression - and then he discovered Art-Lift.

"I was struggling, but no-one could help me; I felt I had fallen through the cracks. I was very depressed, very suicidal.
It took two years to find this class. I am not particularly artistic but that isn't the point. The weekly Art-Lift session gives me stability, I feel safe here, and there is no agenda. As a compliment or supplement to medication, it is second to none. As such, this treatment could easily replace medication entirely; its effects are cumulative and longer lasting than tablets This class is pivotal, it is a point of reference to my week; the pressure is off. If you want to, you can bring your problems here and open up to the artist. This is a respite for me too as I look after my parents."

"I take my work home and finish it there. It is two hours a week away from your troubles, it is really very simple and economic," he said. "It is a very simple, effective and economic paradigm."

Alireza's Story


Alireza is a published poet and writer, but he is also a refugee from Iran. Although he has been in the UK for seven years, he lives alone and misses his family and friends from home. As an artist who uses words, he feels all art is connected. He explained that when he is not involved in art or creativity of any kind, he does not feel alive.

So, in his words, the Art-Lift class at GARAS, Gloucestershire's support centre for refugees and asylum seekers, helped him 'breathe'.
Although the class gave him the chance to paint for the very first time, it was his love for words which drew the attention of the tutor. The artist worked with him to translate his poems from Farsi to English - and now he has started writing in English, and is looking for a publisher.

"Coming to the class was very good for me because I live on my own and I meet new people. I am a poet and this class has helped me very much with my art. It gives me energy. Art is my breath."

Rosemary's Story


Rosemary's depression dates back to when her beloved husband, sister-in-law and dog all passed away in 1998.

Traumatised by the events, Rosemary was also forced to move out of her home, away from her friends and neighbours of many years.

"Depression has been an ongoing battle - and it still is," she said. "I found it very difficult to settle in my new home but I try to keep involved in things, so when I heard about Art-Lift from my GP I thought I would try it."

As a result, Rosemary has discovered hidden artistic talents - and something positive to focus on.

An art class which encourages your creative side is very different from just meeting for a coffee, she added: "If you just meet for a chat, you can end up talking about mundane things and your health issues. The art takes your mind off your everyday problems and that makes you feel better. It really helps me focus on the positive."

"I am finding pencil drawing quite a challenge; I really enjoy it because it encourages an eye for detail and helps with my spatial awareness."

Roger's Story


A stroke cut Roger off in his prime. He spent three months in three hospitals and still has problems with his sight and mobility.

After leaving hospital, Roger found the restrictions of his illness got him down and he became very frustrated. He knew he needed something to take his mind off his problems but didn't know what.

When his son saw a leaflet for Art-Lift in the local GP surgery, Roger decided to give it a go.

"I needed something to nudge me in the right direction. The weekly Art-Lift class means I have something to look forward to and the actual art itself helps me concentrate and focus my sight and my hand movements. I also really enjoy working with colour.

"I am not an artistic person but I feel good that I am actually doing something creative because being unwell is so frustrating. The class stops me thinking about myself."

Roger is now able to walk to the class from home. His wife joins him afterwards, when they pop to the pub for relaxing afternoon.

Linda's Story


Linda became depressed after fracturing her ankle, which forced her to give up the job she loved, and then found she was putting on weight.

"Everything got on top of me and I was feeling really low, I lost my self-esteem," she said.

Then she was referred to an Art-Lift class by her GP.

"The classes help take my mind off everything negative because you get so engrossed in the work. I find it therapeutic; I really look forward to coming. It makes me feel good about myself because I am doing something I never really thought I could do. The last time I did anything like this, I was at school and I didn't think I was very good at art."

Linda looks forward to the weekly sessions and catching up with the friends she's made.

"I created a 'dream garden' in a box, and then a friend asked me to help her plan a new look for her garden, so I used the same techniques which I really enjoyed. The classes help us take our minds off our problems and focus on something positive."