Where the hell did the time go?
It's been a while. For the last four (ish) years, Paul and I have been researching, developing, and implementing our tailored Creative Mental Health Programme™ to reduce the symptoms of mental illness whilst also improving the lives of anyone interested in learning to use our tools to assist their mental health and wellbeing.
It has been one hell of a journey and we have learned so much.
Paul and I left our roles to do something that we felt was needed in the world. Something that I was told was a "waste of time" by certain powers that be. That doesn't make me mad, it makes me grateful. If we'd have run with my idea at that point in time it would've tied us to a place that caused me and my colleagues a noticeable decline of our mental health and wellbeing.
We took a risk - we didn't know whether it would work - we busted our balls and found ourselves in a place of learning, connection, and empowerment. We started as a team of four, and now have expanded to a payrolled team of 24 and a volunteer base of many more.
Being the CEO and Co-founder of PoetsIN has been the most rewarding experience of my life (besides being a mother). Setting up a charity in the UK often costs a lot as an initial outlay; money that we didn't have. At this point I did what I always do - I learned. I swore a lot. I cried many frustrated tears. I laughed a lot. During that initial setup period I felt many emotions, but used the words of the former powers that be to fuel my determination and dedication to get it right and not make the mistakes I'd seen them make time and time again. I think it's likely that I was underestimated as a business woman, but again, I used that to drive me forward within my own career.
It's hard running a charity yet we have flourished year upon year due to the tenders and contracts we have won. We have met some incredible people with some fascinating and heartbreaking stories. We have built a team who are as dedicated to our cause as we are. We have spoken at various events about what we do and how we do it. We have won awards - with our most recent being Mental Health Charity of the Year 2020 in the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Awards. I could write multiple paragraphs of our achievements and of the thousands of lives we have changed and I still wouldn't have covered even half of the successes and lessons we have learned.
Back in June we were approached by filmmakers who wanted to partner with us during the production and release of their feature film. Last night, I sent a member of the team on set to watch the film being made. Tonight, another team member is visiting the film set. Our experience and education in the topic of mental health and wellbeing, along with the unique approach we take when it comes to supporting those with mental ill-health has opened doors to opportunities and experiences that we never thought possible.
Our lives are richer, our lives are so colourful, our lives are better because of PoetsIN. We have learned so much about ourselves and our own mental health during this journey and our goals have never been more ambitious - yet totally achievable.
In the past, I allowed my own mental health to be dictated by a few individuals who made me question my worth, value, and my skills. I realise now how wrong they were but also how wrong I was to listen to their voices and allow mine to be suffocated. The proof is in the pudding (as my nan would say), and my pudding is overflowing with the nectar of goodness, fulfilment, achievement, and longevity. This wouldn’t happen without the skills, value, and worth I possess in a world where most charities fail within their first three years.
Something we are hugely proud of is our workplace culture. Our employees and volunteers feel supported, valued, worthy, empowered, and happy to work for us. They love their job and because of this we have people approaching us constantly looking for work. People want to work for us, with us, as a part of the PoetsIN family.
I want to come back to the title of this piece, where the hell did the time go? It went into people. Into life - saving them, changing them, improving them. It went into having a voice, giving a voice to the silent, and changing the voices of those who impose those age-old stigma we so often hear. My silence here isn’t a sign of weakness, of crawling away into a hole and hiding - it’s a sign of strength, of repair and renewal, of growth and evolution.
I know my worth, my strengths, and the places where I need to grow my skill set. I’m Sammie 2.0 and I won’t ever be taken for a fool, or for granted, again. A big thank you to those who didn’t believe in me, in us, to those who used us as a tool to reposition themselves, to those who used me as a scapegoat rather than owning their own faults, to those who told me it was a waste of time, to those who didn’t believe in us - you made this possible. You gave us the life you wanted through trying to control and manipulate us. Finally, to the architect who thought I was an asshole at first but then fastly became someone I was hugely fond of and who inspired me with his intelligence, thank you for spending your time seeing me for who I am. I truly appreciate you.
If you are struggling with your mental health, we have a range of fully-funded services you can access (free of charge). Just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will help direct you to the right service.
For anyone who wants to improve their mental wellbeing, we are running one-hour free mental wellbeing workshops via Zoom. If you are interested in these, please email email@example.com and we will get you booked in to our next available slot.
I won’t leave it so long next time. I may even share my own creativity with you all at some point. My pen has never been so ink-filled.