I’ve changed a lot over the last year, and that is in no small part due to the group. The group itself has gone through several changes since I started it last September. It had its first birthday a week ago.
When I first started Chill, it was just me and a one or two other people at the meets. Then me and four, five, or six people. After the New Year numbers dwindled, then rose when the weather changed again.
What we did changed, too.
In the beginning we mostly talked. There were a few good talkers among us and a few people with real problems with their hands, and so crafting was occasional. It wasn’t something people wanted or were able to do, although it had been an interest for me from the get-go. So we talked. I took a break from doing the meetings during the winter, and started them again with the lure of knitting in the late spring. New people came. For the past few months, crafting has been the thing.
It has been a real hit, but I am mindful that it is not for everyone. Some people have been in touch saying they haven’t come to the meets because they think that the fuss around pens and pencils is, well, boring. And I get that, despite my excitement over the prospect of a new pack of colourful Sharpies.
We will be doing different things soon, in addition to the arts and crafts.
Another thing that has changed is what people want to talk about. When we voted in November, members had a strong preference for meetings focused on talking about health and recovery, or going to meditation or yoga classes together. In a recent poll, only one person voted for more health-focused meets. At the moment, most people want to meet up and do stuff.
I don’t know if the group will settle into an identity or if it will continue to change.
I am really proud of the group.
I was proud when we crowded into Deli and when we all got our knitting out at The Crown. I was proud of myself when, for the first time in my life, I went somewhere by myself without a carer. That was because of the group. I’m still quietly proud to be just going outside once a week.
There was one little moment in particular that brought it home though, a tiny little happening that most people might have ignored. I overheard one person say to another, “So, I’ll come round your house this weekend then, yeah?”
I’ll never take a sentence like that for granted. It is pretty cool to be part of something that can make possible such a phrase.