Zoofish Arts, an arts therapy group set up in 2013 and based in Poole, is currently fundraising after their funding had to be cut by mental health charity, Richard Fellowship.
The art group has set up a Justgiving page to raise £2,016 to safeguard and expand into 2019.
Zoofish Arts was set up to help those that suffer with mental health conditions and other disabilities through the use of art therapy.
Richard Jeffery, who helped set up the art group, told Buzz that there “doesn’t seem to be anything comparable in Poole at the moment”, and they are really keen to keep it going.
“People stay for various lengths of time – some a couple of weeks – some for months – we don’t put an end date on the support we offer. We are based in Poole but have people join us in the past from as far afield as Wool and Christchurch”.
“We have had about a dozen referrals and new starts since October, and there is no sign of that slowing. We still have space enough to welcome new group members”.
Although it may not solve any long term problems for visitors, Mr. Jeffery believes that it takes the pressure off, and sometimes gives people a chance to rethink what’s happening to them and what they are doing.
“I think that, above all else, we offer those with mental ill health and distress a ‘breathing space’. Art engages you fully, if you let it – and for those few hours that you work up a sculpture in clay, or try to get the line just right on a sketch, there is no room for anything else in your head”.
Buzz spoke to Dr Andrew Mayers, a patron and trustee for Dorset Mind and an avid campaigner for mental health issues, who expressed the importance of the group.
“There’s a whole string of people in our community who have relatively low-level, but ongoing and interfering problems with new anxieties that might not normally meet a diagnoses.”
“What Zoofish Arts and other organisations like them use is art therapy.”
Art therapy according to Dr Mayers, is a way of expressing yourself and “perhaps confront some of the issues that a person is facing, and express it in a way that helps them cope with those problems that they are having”.
Dorset Mind, Dr Mayers and Zoofish Arts met earlier this week to discuss a partnership to expand new art groups in the Bournemouth and Poole area.
Dee Swinton from Dorset Mind said “we are looking to try and step in, but there’s a lot of red tape and research that we need to do beforehand so obviously we need to be careful. But it’s obviously something that we would really like to support and we will continue to support them as much as we can.”
Alison Walker, 58, is a volunteer and ex-participant at Zoofish Arts, and suffers with Bi-polar. She told Buzz that the mental health arts group is “absolutely invaluable” to the community.
“Art as a medium is a therapy. Not only does it work as a distraction technique, but you start thinking in a different way and finding solutions to problems in a creative way. That’s the beauty of Zoofish”.
Mr.Jeffery’s is hoping that the money raised through fundraising will tide them over until more project funding comes there way.
“We have other, more substantial funding applications underway, which if successful would keep us going for the next two years – the Justgiving is to tide us over until one of those comes through”.