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  • Rae Story

People Need Places

TLC St Luke's is leaving St Luke's Church Buidling. From the 6th January you will find the Art Project at Pool Arts Studio, Grosvenor Street in Ardwick - call Alison on 07767356302. and our mental health drop in cafe and related activities will be running on a Thursday 4-7pm from Ida Kinsey Centre, just 100 yards from St luke's - call Diane on 07593147369 for more info.

On Tuesday evening we had what was essentially our Farewell Gathering at St Luke's Church and Neighbourhood Centre in Ardwick.

View from St Luke's Church

View from St Luke's Church, Ardwick

St Luke's has been home to a 30+ year mental health drop-in and services set up by the then Vicar Peter Clark. In 1993 Alison Kershaw set up the Art Project in the back room of the church, offering drop-in art sessions for the local community and people accessing the drop-in. In 2003 the Treatment Room was set up to also offer people a range of holistic therapies and counseling. When Peter left in 2010 we constituted ourselves as TLC- St Luke's Mental Health Charity.

This time last year we were informed by the current incumbent Rev. Eugenia Adoyo that they could no longer house our Mental Health Charity due to increasing costs and we are leaving the building for good on 17th December.

People need places. Tuesday evening was a bitter sweet event. A lot of friends of the supporters of the project over the years came to say goodbye to the building and support us moving forward. The people who participate in our project attended in good numbers, but people expressed a lot of mixed feelings and emotions. Staff and volunteers similarly felt a range of emotions about this situation. Lots of people said that it is the people themselves that matter and that we will find new homes and the project will continue. However, as Alison Kershaw the lead artist said Places are important. People gather in places. Places offer shelter, security against the harsh environment (be that weather or current political situation - or both!). Places offer safety, familiarity, homes. When people become homeless that disrupts so much of the ground that many of us take for granted. When organisations and projects become homeless they loose their root, their connection to neighbourhoods and community. They loose the consistent offer that people in distress have come to rely on being there for hot food, companionship, a listening ear, a cup of tea, warmth - human and heating.

Tess Lomas who facilitated Poetry Workshops and brought together the Heart Starts Here Poem encircling the building, pinned the poem to us, before headed our for a performance of the poem.

I have often thought one of the secrets of our success at St Luke's has been that we are just there every week, same times, same days and people can just turn up. And they do, even if they haven't been for 1, 5 or 10 years. They know we are there. Even if people are not attending at a given time, just knowing that we are there gives them a sense of security and a safety net for when they might need us. For people who don't have family, support, finances even friends, this is essential. Perhaps the most basic human right?

People need places. Places to meet, places to chat, places to connect, to laugh, to cry.

James and Adele:

We had a good evening together with some beautiful food made by Amy and James:

Art projects close, keys are handed back and those people scatter. Puppet companies fold, their resources get distributed to other projects only for those projects to close not long later. Skills and experience that is built over decades gets lost. Some people give up. Others start again. From scratch. This has a heavy toll on resources.

The Heart Starts Here Performance, Adele Fowles

People and places matter because they are what makes up community. Community holds and shapes us, giving us context, connection and belonging. Many of these things are missing for people with mental health problems. Isolation is one of the key factors trying to be addressed by Manchester City Council and nationwide. Isolation shouldn't be understood separately (in isolation!) to other social and economic factors. We are living in harsh times. In these times we need to reach out and support one another where we can. And we need to find ways of standing together and creating meaning.

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