This has been a good year for the outreach programme, building on the work that outreach coordinator Liz Holmes began early in 2014.
“When I took over there were only one or two groups we were in regular touch with. Now though we’re working with 11 and I have contacted a total of 23 organisations across Tyne, Tees and Wearside with a view to offering services,” says Liz.
“Last year we provided 100 wellbeing stays. This year, with the help of the outreach volunteers, we doubled that figure to 200.
“We have also been able to expand what we offer while they’re here thanks to new partnerships we’ve built with Let’s Get Growing who deliver therapeutic activities in the peace garden, and the YMCA who offer a great outdoor programme for teens and younger people.”
Liz herself has undertaken training to allow her to offer wellbeing practices such at Tai Chi and other stress-management techniques as part of a commitment to deliver as much as possible within the limited resources available.
Of course Minsteracres itself is part of what makes the wellbeing days so successful, “The beautiful surroundings, the presence of the place, the peace and the tranquillity, as well as the warmth of the welcome and the fact that everyone is valued all play their part.
“Just knowing that the team is touching people’s lives is extremely rewarding,” says Liz, “especially when you see the difference between when they arrive stressed and burdened, and when they leave relaxed and with an altogether different energy.”
The feedback reflects this. Among comments received recently, two said, “Here I feel really happy and confident. At home there is too much stress and I feel very down”, and “A massive thank you for the kindness, caring, love and attention you have given us.”
It is not just the clients who benefit either. For Moira Waugh, one of the outreach volunteers, the team get a lot out of their work too even though at times it is tiring and demanding, “By turning our attention away from ourselves, we find ourselves,” she told a group of volunteers recently, adding, “Pope Frances said that money, vanity and power won’t make us happy. The real treasures, the riches that matter, are love, patience and service to others and worshipping God.”