August 20, 2013

All in all it was a fantastic weekend. Attending both days was both wonderful and exhausting! There were such a wide range of people visiting the Village, more varied than any Village I have done before.

Spirits were high amongst the public

Spirits were high amongst the public because of the festival atmosphere and they were nearly all captivated by our live music. The music gave me a great opportunity to engage with people, as I could ask them what they thought of the songs, or even if they knew the performers. Some people were really not interested in talking to me, as they wanted to watch the musicians with ‘no strings attached’, but most people were happy to find out what we were doing on the harbourside, and why.

Most people had not heard of Time To Change before, and were a bit taken aback when I mentioned the scary M word (Mental), but after a few seconds of “oh…erm…” they were all happy to engage. Some preferred to listen, others asked questions, but many got completely drawn in to a full conversation about mental health and what it meant to them.

One woman even carried on chatting to people in the pouring rain..

The pouring rain hampered things for a while, but the volunteers were all fantastic throughout, even if they did get a little soggy. One woman even carried on chatting to people in the pouring rain.. That’s dedication for you!

A beautiful moment was when we got caught in a downpour and members of the public rushed in to our Village Green tent, to get shelter. One very talented (and very squashed) performer carried on for what must have been an hour and a half, keeping the public entertained with requests and sing-alongs, whilst our volunteers squished into the packed tent and chatted to them. 

I always try to be open about my condition

There was one very difficult conversation, on the second day, where I began chatting to a man about our campaign. I always try to be open about my condition, so when he asked questions, I answered. A few minutes in to our chat he began saying very blunt things and making jokes about suicide, which I found very uncomfortable and upsetting. I took a deep breath and continued with the conversation.

I tried to explain to him that his perceptions were wrong, and that those jokes were not appropriate, but he didn’t take it on board. His friends who were at the side lines of our conversation were starting to look very uncomfortable and shied away from comments directed at them, and I was not getting anywhere with him, so I ended our chat. He was not being purposefully rude or nasty, I don’t think, but it did knock me for 6 and I had to take a few moments out, away from the hustle and bustle of the village.

We can’t win them all, but maybe his mates will cultivate that little seed I planted about the truth behind mental health… So… maybe we can win them all, after all?

Time To Change’s campaign, our campaign, is a worthwhile one

That conversation did show me something: Time To Change’s campaign, our campaign, is a worthwhile one, as stigma is still very much alive. We need to continue doing what we are doing to educate people and stamp out stigma, so that other people do not have to go through uncomfortable conversations like the one I had with that guy.

Would I go through that kind of conversation again? If it gave me another chance to change someone’s perceptions, then absolutely.

So, when’s the next one?!

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