First mental health & wellbeing retreat a success!

From Wednesday 21st to Friday 23rd July, Arran Youth Foundations held our first ever mental health & wellbeing retreat at the Arran Outdoor Education Centre in Lamlash. This has been a long held aim of the charity, and was made possible thanks to funding from Arran Locality Partnership's Community Investment Fund.

Covering all sorts, from resilience to gentle yoga and ink splats to visualisation, the retreat helped almost a dozen young people work on their own mental health and wellbeing, arming them with tips and strategies to cope.

Graeme posted updates to social media after each day, and these can be seen below, along with a few of the many photos we captured.

Day 1

So yesterday was Day 1 of our first ever Mental Health & Wellbeing retreat, thanks to three-year funding from Arran Locality Partnership and the Community Investment Fund. We are based at the amazing Arran Outdoor Centre for three days (what a location!) We are so grateful to Ian and the staff for all their facilities, time and support.
Such a busy and fantastic day, into which we crammed so much. The young folk did so well to engage so positively in such beautiful but hot conditions!
We started the day with gentle wake-up yoga with Laura from inthego yoga. Gill Agnew then had a chat with the young folk exploring what happiness is, the mind, and led a mindfulness session. It was such a positive and relaxed start to the day.
Graeme and the AYF team played Wellbeing Bingo with the guys, getting them thinking on the types of things they can do to look after themselves.
Lunch was provided by the BIG CO - Brodick and dinner by Lamlash Golf Club, Isle of Arran.  and we were so ready for both after a busy day.
In the afternoon we had fun with the centre's instructors - with some doing kayaking and others doing sailing over to Holy Isle, then a wee swim in the sea.
In the evening we watched Toy Story before playing some games and falling in to the tents knackered!


Day 2

Mental Health & Wellbeing retreat Day 2: where to start?!
Laura from inthego yoga took us through gentle wake-up yoga again. What a way to begin your day. For me personally, what a difference between lying relaxed in the sun, hearing the waves, doing some stretches, to my usual yoga - following a YouTube video while my two kids jump all over me.
Meanwhile, Hollie and Leigh made breakfast for everyone. A special shoutout for both of them, as they have worked so hard to make sure every young person has had a great time.
Shona, our cheery art psychotherapist then took us a walk along the shore to make ephemeral art out of whatever we could find. Some lovely sculptures were made, and the walk in the sunshine was a nice part of the day too.
Again, our lunch was provided by BIG CO - Brodick and Lamlash Golf Club, Isle of Arran. The food was spot on, and gave us the energy to keep going in the weirdly un-Scottish weather we've been enjoying.
Next up, what can we say about the session led so enthusiastically by Stewart Bell from Youth Scotland. For the best part of 3 hours he took the guys through the difference between a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset with a presentation he had prepared, and the power of visualisation by leading a lovely relaxing session next to the sea.
The messages were so important for young people to hear and we hope they really took something from it. Stewart spent all day yesterday with us, and his presence really added a lot for the young people.
We were straight in to another amazing workshop before dinner, hosted by Arlene McCloskey from Support In Mind Scotland. Unlike the rest of our guests, we didn't know Arlene - I just knew that resilience had to be part of our programme, as I think it's one of the best things we can build in young people. We reached out to Arlene and made the connection in the hope she would come and deliver it.
Wow - we are so glad we did. Another fantastic, passionate presentation, helping the guys to understand what resilience is, that everyone has it, and how we can build it in ourselves. There was also some important talk about mental health. Again, messages that we really wanted the young folk to hear.
Shona returned to finish her art psychotherapy session with rocks, shells and other pieces we had gathered from the beach. The young folk made beautiful (and some very funny) poems summarising their experience at the retreat, and were each gifted a journal, in which they can self-reflect and write down what they are grateful for each day.  
As we finished an exhausting but amazing day off by melting smores on the beach over Hollie's fire one of the young people told me the evening art was their favourite. As we spoke to others, all the various parts of the day were mentioned.
We have had an absolutely superb time so far. Huge thanks must go again to Ian and the team at Arran Outdoor Centre who have given us the use of this perfect space in which to do this.

Day 3

First ever AYF mental health and wellbeing retreat? Completed it mate!
The biggest thanks goes again to Ian and all the team at Arran Outdoor Centre. There is nowhere we would rather have been. At night the moon and stars were out over Holy Isle and we saw and heard cats, bats, ducks, swans, rabbits, geese. Proper Scottish outdoors.
So Day 3 began with Laura from inthego yoga again. Perfect start to the day! Feedback from a young person: "I loved how calm it made me."
Arlene from Support in Mind Scotland came along to deliver her second session. If the first input on resilience was fantastic, today's on friendships and dealing with conflict may have been even better. I wish someone had taught me how to navigate these difficult things as a teenager. Arlene literally sent them away with a toolkit they can use next time they are in that situation. Brilliant!
Lunch once again courtesy of BIG CO - Brodick. Thank you!
To round it off, Ayrshire artist Tragic O'Hara (aka Tosh) visited the group to do ink splats, teaching them techniques to unwind and subconsciously process things in their life while being creative. They also had lots of fun creating art from words they helped pick at random.
It was a great fun session on the final day, and Tosh was responsible for possibly my favourite bit of advice over the three days.
Comment from a young person: "I want to be an artist when I'm older"
Tosh: "You dont have to wait until you're older to be an artist. You don't have to get permission from anyone."
What a fantastic, inspiring piece of advice for any young person to hear
The AYF team finished off the retreat with a chat on support networks, and "Hope Clouds" - which we filled with our hopes and dreams for the year ahead.
Roll on the 2022 retreat


Posted 25/07/2021