• Hope Cafe Session 2nd September

    We started with a poem by Joseph T. Renaldi, Gratefulness, here is an extract:

    I am grateful for the eyes that I can see
    the activities that can be done by me.
    I am grateful for the ears that I may hear
    the sobbing of those who need me near.

    I am grateful for the lips that I might speak
    words of comfort and peace to all who seek.
    I am grateful for a mind that I might know how to aid those who need me so.

    Full poem is available here2015-08-13 009

    The format was to focus on each of the 5 senses, so we used our listening, our seeing, our taste, smell and touch to write what the Hope Cafe gave to each.Some of the great responses are here:
    What do you see here?

    Friendliness, dedication, light;

    I see different people all pulled together; sharing health, stories and friendship;
    sharing good things

    A nice group of people getting me out and about. People chattin’, laughin’;

    Cheerful people seeing the same as me.

    What do you hear in this place?…

    People talking, laughter;
    voices, door opening and shutting;

    What do you taste here?…

    Irn Bru;

    Coffee – bitter, chocolate – sweetness.

    What do you smell here?…


    What do you touch here?…

    Empathy, someone to listen , to take time, is valid in every way;
    We can touch life together and feel it flowing around us.

    I love the way some senses mingled with others, especially touch, which showed the open-hearted approach in The Hope Cafe.We all touch each other’s hearts.

    I shared my own poem, ‘After Mum’s Stroke’ -describing how grateful I felt about caring for my mum. We moved on to write on the thoughts and emotions that we have about the Hope Cafe –

     What do you think about this place?
    It is so unique;
    I think it is a brave place – in an uncertain life, there was no guarantee it would work out.
    I think it is a good place.
    I think Hope Cafe is a wonderful place where no one judges you and I feel accepted.
    Hope Cafe is a lifeline.

    What do you feel about this place?
    I feel I am at home.
    It is comfortable and friendly.
    I am thankful it is near to my town.
    Socialising – feels a relief to know I can go any time without any pressure. I feel I can say what I feel to volunteers and it is a release.
    I feel it’s a very worthwhile meeting place and I enjoy coming and socialising and of course the expressive writing!

    Then we explored  objects for each of the senses:


    – a story called ‘Oor Street’ by Margaret Boyce.This was written in the voice of a wee lassie, and wis fun to read and share oor ain memories.It is in The Scottish Book Trust 2014 book Stories of Home

    cropped-weeread-logo1.jpgHere’s a wee bit:

    “A take ma gob stopper oot ma mooth, an A wonner if ma tongue’s blue noo.  A stick it oot as for as A kin, but A canny see it.  Wiping ma sticky hauns doon the back a ma bran new pink shorts, A look roun tae see if anybidy’s watching.  A feel guilty.  Ma daddy always tells me no tae clean ma hauns on ma claithes.  Eh says it’s no lady-like.  Black tar fae the melting pavement oozes up the side a ma white sandal an onti ma clean white soak.  A try to wipe it off oan the grass – but ma soak’s streaked green an black noo…”



    -Dr. Seuss picture book, I Can Lick Fifty Tigers Today a fun story too!Made us smile.

    Best line “I can lick one mighty tiger today…”.More Dr. Seuss here


    Mango bits, coconut…

    Lavender oil, a rose, basil leaves and mint leaves.

    A wee soft leprechaun, a wooden goblet, a twig.


    The writers had a lot of thoughtful pieces and some will be used for the coming booklet.Here is one gorgeous example:

    Donna 2
    Oh to indulge,
    on such wonderful things created for my pleasure;
    made perfectly.
    It’s truly a gift.
    No money exchanged would I depart,
    for this awesome beauty all surrounding me
    makes my heart skip a beat;
    Calm, peace, serenity endures.

    Thanks, Donna!

    We felt grateful for two new faces and voices today, and as usual, I felt happy and buzzin’  at the end.

  • Hope Cafe 26th August Session

    Hi all, it’s been a very fast August, I’ve been super busy and catching up with paperwork as well as enjoying the Hope Cafe groups more and more. I will add here some of the poems and resources that we used in the past few weeks, so that people can get them from the internet.I also collect links to poems and resources all together on the Resources page  page here

    On Wednesday 26th we started with an extract from Please Understand Me, by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, called:Different drums and different drummers

    here is an extract:

    “If I do not want what you want, please try not to tell me my want is wrong.

    Or, if I believe other than you, at least pause before you correct my view…”

    and we wrote about prizing our differences.





    Them I read one of my own poems, All Was Silent- here it is-

    All was silent

    All was silent

    many lives

    lost for words

    til many years after

    I say

    Ma granda died at 31

    a miner- a heart attack,

    ma dad a week old-

    Seventh son,

    no father knew

    his seventh son

    inherits true

    All was silent

    many years

    lost for words

    til many years after

    I say

    Ma daddy died at 51

    A steel worker- a heart attack

    Ma brother 4 years old

    Til after many years I say

    I’d cry until ma bones ran dry

    unutterable loss of ma favourite guy

    No longer silent,

    words speak at last

    to all I say

    sometimes love has no words to mark its’ day.


     Then we read a letter from Joe, which made us think about the bad times, of despair, and the hope of getting through these times.

    We finished with Diving in, using a writing prompt that encouraged us to do ‘free writing’, which is mostly what we do here.Letting the phrase or word lead us anywhere it wants to-let the pen do the walking.We used words that have two meanings, like skirt, desert, run…

    We had some fun, some deep and meaningful chats, and as ever it was wonderful!The time flies, literally and literary here every week. Thanks to everyone who came.

  • WRAP – Wellness Recovery Action Planning- Training at The Hope Cafe on the 14th and 21st of August, 2015

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    WRAP – Wellness Recovery Action Planning- Training at The Hope Cafe on the 14th and 21st of August, 2015

    WRAP- the Wellness Recovery Action Plan is a tool to support self-management in mental wellbeing.It is used by The Scottish Recovery Network

    The two-day course that I attended at the Hope Cafe was a start to me taking the next steps that I need, to plan for :

    • everyday activity that helps me feel well

    • essential healthcare maintenance

    • realistic goals that are achievable

    • when I am having a severe episode, what do I need from my family and friends who support me?

    • other essentials

    2015-08-13 006

    I found the course challenging and emotional. I was resistant to the idea of ‘recovery’ as meaning that I will get completely fixed. We talked openly about this and I found allies who felt similarly to me. This was a surprise, due to the almost ‘brand’ of ‘Recovery’ that is sweeping across the mental health field. I am a wee bit cynical about it. I thought most other people would be disappointed that I do not agree with the concept. However, it is a term that most people have their own meaning for. I respect and appreciate that.

    What also surprised me, was the honesty that we had in the cafe. We told our stories of despair, hope, living well, or living not-so-well.

    It was an honour and a privelege to be with such a group of women, and Scott, who were willing to put themselves right out there and I have total respect!

    The first day was on Friday 14th then – after a week the 2nd day was on the 21st August. The faces came on the 2nd Friday, shining, younger-looking, as if we’d all had face-lifts! Someone told me I looked much better too! That was a sign to me that this tool works.

    Whilst I am sceptical about tools, and the notion of ‘fixing’ ourselves in a generic way, I have to concede that the Wellness Recovery Action Plan has something special about it, something magical. It originated in USA by Mary Ellen Copeland www.mentalhealthrecovery.com

    with people who had enduring/severe mental illnesses. Yet, it’s a soft tool, it relies on your own personal responsibility, your choices of what you consider essential for your well-being. It uses something like some basic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It is self-management.The Hope Cafe Wrap Training (2)

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    I think perhaps one of the things that made this very useful and moving for me, was this group of people, and the setting. The Hope Cafe and Donna Barrowman deserve all the help they can get, because this is social recovery, this is co-active , keeping each other well by frank conversations about what is usually stigmatised, avoided, unmentionable, and therefore, unmanageable. Well done to us who helped break down the barriers with each other!!

    Thanks again to The Hope Cafe  !

  • Wee Read at The Hope Cafe Writing for mental wealth on Wednesday 5th August 2015

    We gathered  inspiring quotes from people and added into a word cloud to remind us. This week, we had a couple of new members. Hearing voices speak from the heart is inspiring.Some really moving writing thanks to everyone who came!

    Here’s a selection of what we did:


    We read Mary Oliver, The Summer Day,
    I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
    into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
    which is what I have been doing all day.
    Tell me, what else should I have done?
    Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
    Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    With your one wild and precious life?

    The poem is available here:Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
    Then, we wrote about what we would do with this wild and precious life…
    Later we spoke about writing something for our booklet for October’s Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Passion is the theme for the festival, so we had a shot at writing our words that we associate with passion.
    Here is my starter list of words:

    Try it! Write a simple list- if you want to, you can start with one of these words or not – whatever you write is right!
    Then write your own list of words that you connect with passion.
    You can have many passions in life – not just one!
    The group came up with:
    the elements
    If anyone has a bash at this above exercise or has any ideas for a jazzy title for the publication of photographs and poems Festival please let me know!



    We also read Ellen Bass’s the Thing is and used our mantra “dot dot dot” to write in response to it…
    The Thing Is
    To love life, to love it even …
    when you have no stomach for it

    when grief weights you like your own flesh
    only more of it, an obesity of grief,
    you think, How can a body withstand this?
    Then you hold life like a face
    between your palms, a plain face,
    no charming smile, no violet eyes,
    and you say, yes, I will take you
    I will love you, again.
    Ellen Bass

    (Source: punch-in-the-face-poetry)


  • Wee Read at the Hope cafe today Wednesday 22nd July 2015

    At The Hope Cafe today, we wrote postcards to say things we wanted to say but had been unable to.This proved to be a good way of unloading stuff,  getting things off our chest. As Ted Bowman says, “If it’s unmentionable, it’s unmanageable”.


    weeread logo1

    Another writing prompt was: ‘my favourite childhood place..’ after reading Larry Butlers’  poem ‘Safe places I knew as a Child’ which starts:

    “Sitting on the toilet reading comics
    the door locked – Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse,
    Goofy, Superman, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd,
    I could sit for hours with a pile of comics

    up a pine tree swaying that the top
    looking out across the neighbourhood
    I could climb trees all day, slide down branches
    and build a tree house with my friend Donny …”

    Later, we listened to some howling with Allen Ginsberg:

    “…yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
    whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement,
    who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall, …”
    -an extract from Allen Ginsberg’s Howl,
    more here :

    If you want to try writing something,write a postcard to someone, anyone, or a rant or a howl or a list!Whatever you write is right!

    We explored our depths with a prompt called ‘Diving In’  – into expressive writing. We used a set of words that have more than one meaning, like: ‘bear, cleave, there, desert, sewer, skirt, run …’ This produced some very interesting pieces of writing!And a lot of laughter!

    Here’s some of the piece I wrote :

    Child of the Universe

    I cleave like a limpet, a clampet, onto the cliffs,

    I’ve survived the biggest storms- not  let go my hands,

    I can now see over the horizon.

    I can become a lighthouse, a lifeboat

    – I can become anything I want to be.

    Wildness and wild places are where I’ll be,

    they’re hame, they’re where ah need tae be.

    I’ll write of the howl, I’ll write of the wolf

    sit and look at the moon,

    or that lovely new heart on Pluto.

    I cleave to tenets, truths, revelations,

    honesty, beauty,

    kindness, generosity, love,

    hope, faith.

    Allowing all the water of the seas to roll over me,

    wash away all my troubles relieving the weight on my back


    just sit

    with what is…

    C. Cather

  • The Hope Cafe Wednesday 8th of July

    Jpeg Jpeg
    Second session in Mandy’s Place at The Hope Cafe!


    A small group of us met this week and we had a very frank, open and meaningful reading and writing session. We started with The Voyeur, by Tom Leonard, which is all about the word ‘wee’.

    It starts:

    ‘What’s your favourite word dearie

     is it wee,

    I hope it’s wee…’ 

    from  Tom’s book, Outside the Narrative which I recommend. It’s a very interesting collection of works for those of us who feel like “foreigners on their native soil.”

    A suggested prompt to write from this was: What are your favourite words?

    We made lists and some amazing stuff came out.

    Then we read William Stafford’s poems,  ‘Ask me’ and ‘The Way it is’. 

    We wrote from the prompt: Ask me… and got some strong responses with this.

    From strength to strength, we went on to experience the power of Maya Angelou, by reading ‘Still I Rise’ and chatted about it.

    We had a read of an item from the Scottish Recovery website,  Write to Recovery, called: ‘Eat a frog’  about anxiety- eating the frog is one step in breaking through something you are worried about- and relates to the technique of thinking of a big problem as an elephant,  How do you eat an elephant? In small chunks.

    My suggestion for home writing was: What are your frogs or elephants?Only a suggestion, as we can write whatever we want and know it is right!

    More mental wealth at The Hope Cafe next week! Anyone can write, please come along!


  • Wee Read’s Big News!

    Had a brilliant week, my busy-ness over the last few months has gained a bit of funding from the See Me Campaign.

    This will be for a Community Innovation project in Hamilton and Blantyre, to fight mental health stigma with bibliotherapy.

    “See Me is driving change across Scotland that will help prevent suicide, empower people who have been discriminated against. Many people will not seek support due to the stigma they expect to face and the self stigma of feeling a burden. No one should ever be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone that they experience mental health problems. Together, we have a shared responsibility to understand what mental health stigma and discrimination feels like and drive home the message that everyone is entitled to and deserving of help and support. To stigmatise and discriminate is to mark someone as different.”

    If you are interested in having a fighting stigma session in your workplace or in a group, please contact me at christine@weeread.scot


  • New Writing Group at The Hope Cafe Lanark

    On Wednesday 1st of July,  Wee Read started a braw reading  ‘n writing group at The Hope Cafe – a place where anyone who has experience of mental health issues can come and be supported in an informal setting. The Cafe supports self-help and wellbeing and is often buzzing; with people chatting, meeting others with shared experiences and a chance to develop personally.

    The wee group got stuck right in, with an introduction to ‘free writing’, or ‘expressive writing’, – that means you can write whatever you want. There is no judgement, criticism, or formality- it is just a chance to open up yourself to the potent power of writing . We chatted and listened to a variety of readings.

    We heard poems from William Stafford, an American poet and a great man for his daily journal which is an idea that I encourage.You can later go back to things you wrote and find some gems to reflect on and grow from.Even grow a poem!

    When you write in the free style, you are ignoring your own judgement which can sometimes limit you. It is amazing what stuff comes out if we let it. Also, it can be a wee bit scary at times, so doing it in the company of others can be a bit of a comfort zone with whatever you are feeling and thinking.

    We chatted about Scottish Recovery Network’s Write to Recovery website and looked at one of the letters of recovery.

    We also heard Tom Leonard and chatted about how hard it is to read dialect. I look forward to sharing some of ma poems wi’ a wee bit ay the local Blanturr accent!

    We had a bit of time in the middle of the session to sit outside and used a postcard to write about. I found the contributions inspiring, frank, and uplifting. Thanks to all who came and I am looking forward to some new people and new wee words tomorrow!!