Hi once again,
And so it ends - and what a wonderful journey it has been. As Angela and I sit here collating the final outcome statistics and learner comments, we genuinely feel humbled by the whole experience.
Ten months has produced so much; classes which total over a hundred learners a week, two newspaper articles featuring our story, so many wonderful new NIACEdefinition friends and best of all, learners who report that their lives have been literally turned around by Mindfulness.
But we also get the feeling of a new beginning.
As a result of this project, we have now made new links and re-inforced old ones with various partners within the community. For example, links with general practitioners, NHSdefinition recovery teams, York Carers, York Mind, Job Centre Plus and many, many more.
These partners now refer learners to us who need Mindfulness to help with their various mental health difficulties that cannot be met swiftly through the NHS. We are achieving equality objectives because they cannot afford private psychiatric interventions, but are genuinely being turned around through the powers of Mindfulness and also, interaction with like-minded people.
We have finished our latest intake of four Mindfulness courses (ten weeks each) and conducted a learner feedback exit questionaire from them all.
The results are now in and can be summarised as follows - all I can say is heck, does this Mindfulness stuff work!
Percentage of students who declared:
Some benefit from attending the course --- 100%
Substantial benefit from the course --- 75%
Profound/life changing benefit --- 25%
More positive outlook --- 90%
Less depressed/anxious/stressed --- 82%
Gained in confidence -- 82%
Ready to take on new challenges --- 79%
Family and friends noticing difference --- 67%
And so into the final straight with this project and another update from our Mindfulness sessions here in York. The Start Living (a Mindful Life) - courses have grown very quickly, with numbers and demand remaining strong.
As we approach Easter, we have now finished another intake of classes. Mindfulness was taught to about sixty students a week, over four classes, plus another twenty to thirty learners who joined the fortnightly Support Group for ex-students. The feedback has been wonderful to read; we are processing the stats now but over 95% of students say they have benefited from the course, with a similar proportion saying they would recommend it to their friends and family. We have also received some lovely quotations, which we shall be using to promote further course intakes to GPs, mental - health bodies and even the good old Job Centre! (who receive a fair amount of clients with mental health difficulties).
Just a quick update. We are now well into February and the project is hopefully doing what it set out to do. We have made connections with various GPdefinition practices and are receiving patient referals for our Mindfulness classes. In addition, NHSdefinition Mental Health Recoverydefinition, York MIND, York Carers, Outreach, Family Care, Primary Care Counselling Team and other organisations have either referred learners to us or shown an interest.
York has recently been hit with the closure of Huntington Mental Health Centre and we believe our Mindfulness classes can help bridge this gap and promote equality by opening up Mindfulness and mental well-being interventions through learning to those in society who cannot afford private treatment. We understand that even local mental health charities have waiting lists, whilst free GP referrals can take up to 18 months.
The deluge of learners we are experiencing (130 a week study across all our Mindfulness classes) seem to suggest there is a real need for Mindfulness in the community. Moreover we feel we are only just brushing the surface of the need-potential within the city. Every time we offer our services, this seems to set off an avalanche of other oganisations wanting to learn about our classes. Only this last month we have had requests from as far away as Easingwold, plus interest from the local mental heatlh hospital, York College, various Council bodies and the local Job Centre to name but a few.
Just a quick update regarding our Mindfulness project here in York.
We have begun to get some real interest amonst the local GPdefinition practicses and patients with mental health issues are being referred onto our courses, which is quite humbling and also great news. We also have a link with our local MIND charity and Mindfulness classes recommence at their premises on Monday (6th January). We believe that both these areas provide real equality opportunities, York has lost a few mental-health resources of late due to government cut and with waiting lists for therarpy up to 18 months long, those who cannot afford to seek private-sector help are seriously disadvantaged.
Our 2013 courses are now finished (December) and retention has been very healthy, as has feedback. We have seen some real improvements in learners with a variety of conditions, including anxiety and depression; one lady has reported her life has been turned round, having not been able to leave the house prior to undertaking our course. Her support worker echoed her sentiments and is a complete convert to Mindfulness - excellent news!
In this Xmas lull between the 2013 and 2014 programmes, we have been busy making resources, including a couse-guide and a meditation CD featuring yours truly! For the first time ever as a teacher, I am almost pleased to think my voice can send learners to sleep! :-)
Finally, in order to secure future benefits from this project and deliver sustainability, we open our doors later this month for the first post course self-help group. As well as providing ex-learners with a place to continue developing their Mindful practice, we also hope to train some students to run classes themelves into the future. This should be a very low cost way of ensuring the Mindful message can continue.
Just a quick update from us here in York. Our Mindfulness project has got off to an exciting start with a fabulous response to a pilot-taster session we set up for City of York Council employees. We expected maybe half a dozen takers for our fifteen minute Mindfulness session and got......fifty! I (Mark) felt like Santa in his grotto as group after group were led in to receive their quarter of an hour of meditation and tranquility! This was followed by email bombardment from those important (and scary!) HR people who wanted to know why staff were looking relaxed and talking about living in the moment! They appear to be very interested and are sending their most scary and important director types to learn more. Success and not a penny of project money spent!
We are currently setting up classes from the taster feedback and hope to get some funding either through charging staff a small fee, or through Council internal lottery funding.
Mindfulness is something Angela and I both passionately believe in. We see the results every week - only last Friday we had a learner with chronic depression informing us of her first moment of hope and genuine relief from her condition in years. We see this sort of reaction regularly and desperately want to offer our Mindfulness courses more widely - with an ambition to make them self-sustainable through student training-to-lead innovations.
So, these are really - really exciting times - we are very pleased and grateful for being accepted for this project - it is fantastic.