Free to Be was a group for people who live with the challenges of emotional health issues, such as depression or anxiety, to meet and share their experiences. It has been running for three years, 2017 being its final year, with six regular members and one occasional member. During 2017 the group met every Wednesday during term time from 9.30-11.00 at St John’s Church, Itchen Abbas. The group was a church initiative and was fully supported in prayer from within the group and also by the clergy of the parish.
After much consideration, reflection and prayer it was decided at the end of 2017 to bring Free to Be to a close. This was for a number of reasons: first, due to the resignation of the Rector this sensitive area of ministry was without legal oversight; second, we felt the group had run its course reflected in declining attendance; third, a growing understanding that we as leaders were not fully able to meet the important and present needs of some of the attendees at that particular time, who had become increasingly unwell; fourth, there were a couple of members who were experiencing good recovery from their difficulties and were beginning to find new ways to live life with the possibility of employment, which was great news and of course the whole point.
The area of mental health is a very important part of ministry and when the way looks clearer for the parish we will consider new ventures to incorporate the needs of those in the parish who suffer in this way. In the meantime, we have given all the attendees a list of organisations, services and societies for any additional support that they might feel they need. The friendships formed through Free to Be within the parish will continue on an informal basis, but will no longer be under the authority of the church during the vacancy.
Lucy Pease and Susie Brine