M is in her sixties – a devoted mother and grandmother who has been coming to MIND for many years.
She describes herself as a very private person by nature who has a social phobia and performance anxiety which has isolated her. She was feeling quite isolated when she decided to join the Reading Group. It took her a long time to get to know people at MIND and she was happy sitting slightly apart with a cigarette and just “being” as she describes it .
She realized that her social side was being neglected, especially as she was a single parent. When she started the Get into Reading group, M says, she was keen as she loves literature but was nervous at the start with a new group.
For the first few sessions she felt herself unable to read in a group setting – felt she had a block. Then one week, she says something made her want to take the bull by the horns- a “do or die” feeling . The first few times she read weren’t easy because of her social phobia but she then experienced a sea-change in the way she felt and started to relax. M is now the best reader of the group . We have recently had a new member which she says can be tricky, but she is still reading confidently and fully participating in the discussions.
“I have come to learn the power of words in our lives – and the power of silences. They go deep into our psyche. This group has become the highlight of my week and I clear my calendar to ensure I can make the sessions”
C left school with few qualification, is dyslexic and nervous about reading. She joined the group as we were starting Jane Eyre. Initially she wouldn't read at all and then one day offered to read a verse of a poem we were sharing. Within a few weeks, she was volunteering to read quite complex passages from Jane Eyre and her reading has become more fluent. Despite serious physical and mental health problems, she has become a regular attendee who has used her enjoyment of the poetry in a new way.
"We now do a ‘poem of the week’ , selected by group members, to put up on the Mind noticeboard every week for other visitors."
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