Ipswich couple open crafty community hub to promote art therapy
PUBLISHED: 11:31 03 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 03 May 2018
A couple from Ipswich have launched a fun and friendly service to support people with mental health issues in Stonham Barns.
Crafty Suffolk, run by Christine Cooper and partner Tim Fisher, has already been visited by dozens of locals since it opened just five weeks ago.
The hub, which acts as everything from a cafe, to a workshop, to a venue for talking therapy, is open to absolutely everyone – regardless of age, gender or disability.
It is designed to be a safe place for people of all backgrounds to open up about their mental health, and offers a range of crafty activities to keep the mind and body busy.
Ms Cooper, who is professionally trained in treating people with mental health issues, said she was inspired to promote art as a method of relaxation and recovery after her son became overwhelmed at primary school, and had to be taught at home.
“It was really difficult for me as a parent,” she said. “The only thing he would do for me was arts and crafts.
“It was working, and I thought: ‘I’m not giving up on you.’”
Ms Cooper’s son is now on a specialist placement, and is hoping to start at Suffolk One college in July – aged just 14.
Ms Cooper added that it was a real joy to be able to help people on a daily basis – and encouraged local people to volunteer.
“It is phenomenal,” she said. “I love going into work every day. This isn’t a job – this is more than that to me. This is pleasure.”
Mr Fisher said he was incredibly proud of his partner.
“She is one in a million,” he said. “It has always been her dream to give back a bit to mental health and wellbeing.
“People have left here with a smile across their face after having a coffee and a chat, saying I feel 100 times better just because I have talked to somebody.
“It is an outlet for people to come who have nowhere else to go, or don’t like going out.”
Crafty Suffolk offers a range of free drop-in sessions, from home-schooled support, to relationship guidance, to advice for people suffering from post-natal depression and bereavement.
Ms Cooper also offers paid one-to-one therapy sessions, which are completely confidential and can be booked in advance.
For more information about the service, search ‘Crafty Suffolk’ on Facebook.