Community project helps mental health in Hackney with writing workshops

A smiling Hephzibah Oliver holds up a writing guide.

Hephzibah Oliver says Eden Jar's writing workshops have helped her since she has been on furlough. - Credit: Hephzibah Oliver

A Hackney organisation is helping improve the borough's mental health with support from the National Lottery Community Fund. 

The Eden Jar project has made mental health a priority, with mindfulness coaches and creative writing experts encouraging local people to address their feelings through the ups and downs of the pandemic. 

Twice a week, people log on to The Eden Jar Zoom writing workshops for creative classes aimed at improving mental wellbeing.

Hephzibah Oliver, 63, joined the workshops last summer and says she has discovered a love for writing which has helped after being put on furlough: “The workshops have given me a project to focus on which has been very important and helped me discover things about myself that I never knew before."

New research from the National Lottery Community Fund, which provides funding for organisations like The Eden Jar, shows the pandemic has helped reignite Londoners' interest in their local community.


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According to a survey carried out by the fund, over seven in 10 of Londoners surveyed felt part of their local community and said their sense of belonging had increased during the pandemic. 

Almost half said they plan to get more involved in their local community this year, acknowledging the increasing challenges many people face. 

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Issues listed as important to community wellbeing included reducing isolation, helping the local economy and supporting mental and physical health. 

Other priorities included access to natural, green spaces, providing young people with places to go and activities and ensuring safety on the streets. 

The fund surveyed over 900 adults in the capital and 69 per cent said local community groups, volunteers and charities deserved more recognition. 

Lesley Obanye, project officer at The Eden Jar, added: “We can use this new funding to deliver our Write to Heal creative writing workshops online to help improve the mental health of those badly affected by the pandemic.

"Through these workshops, people learn to express themselves and their emotions in a non-judgemental environment and have enjoyed supporting others.”

Learn more at www.facebook.com/TheEdenJar

READ MORE: Hoxton mother expands programme to tackle mental health in BAME communities

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