A WELLBEING charity is planning to take over a former shop in Stroud and launch a large timetable of drop-in support sessions. 

The Independence Trust will be based in the unit opposite Home Bargains in the Five Valleys Shopping Centre for six days. 

The charity, which aims to promote better attitudes to mental and physical health, is also due to reveal an art exhibition called ‘The Loneliness Project’ created by their groups. 

It is due to open from 9am to 5pm from Monday, November 13 to Saturday, November 18.

The shop will be staffed all week by support workers from the charity, with other members from other agencies including Citizens Advice and the Stroud District Foodbank. 

Other groups taking part also include Homestart, Employment and Skills Outreach Hub, Healthy Lifestyles, Trinity Rooms Community Hub, Network Of Stroud Hubs and Cashes Green Community Centre, 

Organisers say the pop-up will be a great chance for people to find out about the support available.

Sue Tomlinson, district team leader, said: “As we emerged from the Covid pandemic, some of us found ourselves in a pandemic of loneliness and isolation.

“To address this issue, we decided to organise an art exhibition showcasing the experiences of our clients who have felt isolated.”

“But we decided that our Loneliness Project art show should not only be an art exhibition, but also offer solutions and support.

“We wanted to put on a really purposeful exhibition, and by listening to people and then drawing on the myriad of support that we know is in our community, we realised that we could create an all-in-one pop-up support event, covering housing, debt, mental health, food poverty, the list is endless.  

“We have been lucky enough to team up with a comprehensive range of organisations and community groups that will be joining us in offering a really useful pop-up event.”   

Most of the artworks in The Loneliness Project Art Exhibition have been produced by members of art groups run by volunteer artist Anni Dalton.  

Anni herself received mental health support from the Independence Trust and now works with the trust to help other people improve their mental health through art.

Stroud News and Journal: Volunteer artist for the Independence Trust Anni Dalton Volunteer artist for the Independence Trust Anni Dalton (Image: The Independence Trust)

Anni said: “I am an artist volunteering my time running workshops helping people at an amazing organisation called the Independence Trust, a charity that aims to help and support people with mental health issues in Stroud and throughout Gloucestershire. 

“I reached out to the Independence Trust in 2015 for help with my own well being after a life of trauma. 

“They picked me up and gave me the stability and strength to take control, which led me to go to college and university where I gained a BA Hons degree in fine art.

“I believe art can help to heal, inspire and enable the minds of the people that come to my workshops, it provides a safe environment for those who are suffering to express themselves and gives them a place they can look forward to being. 

“Most come back every week, having felt the benefit of being creative in a non-pressured environment, to be positively but gently encouraged by myself and often by their peers, a group working together for each other, understanding each other.”