EKTA in Harrow is a small community group formed by like-minded volunteers to support Mental Health Service Users in the South Asian communities in Harrow, Brent and Hillingdon.
Recent funding from Harrow Giving enabled EKTA to expand the weekly activities by adding yoga, light exercises and similar sessions by 2 trained personnel. These lasted 2½ hours with 1 hour alternate Yoga or Balance Exercises, followed by their other activities such as knitting, embroidery, painting, board and card games. There was a good take-up of this, with an attendance of 30-35 people and this now continues fortnightly with new funding from the National Lottery.
Some members come to every event, some whenever they can, but you can feel the importance of these weekly meetings in their lives. Relief from isolation in many cases. Some members have formed friendships and meet between themselves for tea and coffee.
I spoke to some of the members during a recent card-making event. It was a very creative and calm atmosphere, some cards were made for Rakhi, and many were for their grandchildren. There is a happy buzz, they enjoyed the activity, the conversation; there is much humour in their interaction.
One lady said she can enjoy her day better after a meeting; she’s been out, participated in an activity, talked and socialised and it makes her feel good.
“I enjoy it too much” added another, “I feel mentally happier”.
When asked which activity they enjoyed the most, Nalini immediately said “the pampering last week was the best session”.. Many immediately agree, it was a hit!
The members are excited about the forthcoming day trip to Southend On Sea; they really enjoyed the last one, a Thames River cruise! Both were funded by the National Lottery.
They describe the volunteers as calm, very helpful, and very supportive. “Usha takes care of everyone, she’ll call if anyone misses a meeting.”
Usha tells me, after Covid they experienced much anxiety and needed help to build up enough confidence to leave the house.
Members themselves say they can talk, relax and feel their confidence growing, whereas at home ”we are alone”.
One member hit a critical point; Usha carried out an immediate intervention, even involving the Crisis team. Over time with ongoing support and visits from the volunteers, the member can now leave the house, where they live alone, and attend events again.