Unleashing Creativity, Celebrating Community: A Vibrant Kick-off for SEL Mind’s First Annual Event 

On 3 July, just before the general election, South East London Mind (SEL Mind) held their inaugural Annual Event, marking a significant new chapter. This event went beyond simply celebrating their recent merger; it offered a deeper exploration of the powerful link between creative expression and mental wellbeing. 

Making a difference  

Ben Taylor, Chief Executive, took centre stage to unveil ten key achievements from the last year. This included the successful merger that brought Lambeth and Southwark, and Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich Mind together as one stronger organisation. Additionally, Ben unveiled a new Organisational Strategy charting a clear course for the next three years. 

The event’s significance was amplified by the presence of both the Mayor of Southwark, Cllr Naima Ali and Dr David Jeffreys. Their attendance underscored the growing recognition of mental health support as a vital part of community wellbeing. The Mayor of Bromley, acknowledging the timeliness of the focus on mental health, particularly in the lead-up to the general election, highlighted that “Mental health needs are rising across all age groups, and art and music play a huge role”. The Mayor of Southwark, added a personal note, “I truly appreciate the work that SEL Mind do as I used to volunteer in Greenwich as a befriender, so I’ve seen the impact of their work first-hand” 

Creativity and Mental Wellbeing 

To mark the theme of ‘Creativity’, a captivating Q&A panel discussion unfolded between Tracy Durrant (Everyone’s a Singer), spoken word poet Georgie Jones, and Psychotherapist and artist Stephen Rudder. The conversation addressed the high prevalence of mental health problems among artists and the role of consuming art in improving mental wellbeing.  

From Finding Harmony to Finding Your Voice 

The day wasn’t just about insightful discussions – it was about celebrating the transformative impact of SEL Mind on real lives. Georgina and Chichie, participants in the African, African Caribbean, and African Diaspora singing group funded by SEL Mind through the Greenwich Mental Health Hub, Everyone’s a Singer’s Finding Harmony, took the stage to share their powerful stories. Georgina described the group as more than just singing; it was a springboard for her return to social life. “Singing helped me regulate my emotions without even realising it,” she said. Chichie spoke about her newfound confidence since Finding Harmony, “I never thought I could stand before such a large crowd” 

New Chapter: New Leadership 

The event wasn’t short of firsts – Rikki Garcia, SEL Mind’s new Chair, hosted the Annual event for the first time. He added “We often get bogged down in funding and paperwork. But today, especially hearing Georgina and Chichie speak, it really struck home – the impact our work has on the people in our communities.”