'School have asked me which days art group is because they see how beneficial it is!'

'It's been a real eye-opener for me as I didn't think I could do half of what I have been helped to create. It's given me a real interest and I enjoy the social side of it.'

‘I only felt able to take up this post because of the feeling of confidence inspired in me by the Garage Arts Group and the support of my family.’

‘Garage Art Group has helped me re-engage with my local community’

'Company, all different types of art and the freedom to do anything'

'I know I can relax when I come to the art classes! Great distraction and therapy.'

'The jokes and laughter, smiles and able to ask for help'

'being able to express yourself'

'My son absolutely loves going to this art class. Everyone here are lovely and I can't thank them enough for being so kind. This is definitely my son's favourite thing he does.'

'The people, the non judgmental attitude'

'I wish I joined Garage Art years ago. I'm learning So much , and the group are so friendly'

'Nearly 20 years ago, I suddenly out of the blue, became very ill with depression. I attended a day centre at Waterside hospital and after a while was given the opportunity to do Art as a therapy. Very reluctantly I agreed to give it a try.

This is where I first met Pam White who helped me so much during this very dark and difficult time. As my health progressed I was encouraged to move to G.A.G. and my health and confidence gradually came back, and I even discovered I could do a bit of art which I had not done since my school days.

My art work I am told has improved as has my mental health and confidence and my whole life thanks to this wonderful caring group thank you.

I attend Wednesday afternoon group we are a happy and diverse group, we all tend to do different types of art which is good. We are a very close group some of us being together for many years and forming long friendships, we know each other well enough to criticise and praise each other’s work which is good for us all. We love to have new members in to our group and soon make them feel at ease so if you just need a hobby, have health problems or just enjoy painting and other arts please join us art is for everyone and our tutors are wonderful.'

'..finding I could do something I didn't think I was capable of. Also meeting new people.'

'Garage Art Group is a place that I can chill out, let my hair down and put my troubles behind me for a few hours. Pam, Nicky and Belinda are three members of staff with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Because of this I feel I can achieve the things I want to achieve within the group. The good thing about Garage Art Group is it has a very friendly and welcoming vibe. The social support I get from my friends at Garage Art is first class. We go out into the community and socially support each other to have fun. Without Garage Art Group my life would feel very empty.'

‘Whilst attending the group, my confidence has soared…also I can now talk to strangers without feeling inferior. My independence has also grown, from being very needy to being self-sufficient.’

'The sense of togetherness and freedom of speech'

'I love the Garage Art Group because once I have walked through the door I know I am amongst friends and I can sustain the world out. The classes are fun, doing art and creating, anything we want. It’s just great. When I leave a session I feel great. I would recommend anyone joining. I volunteer as a Tutor and love working with the special needs students, it is amazing.'

‘I now work part-time and volunteer, and have my life back in balance’.

'Meeting people I am at ease with'

'I love the art group, I won't miss it for the world. I get to use my talents, learn more. Relaxation and very therapeutic .'

'friendliness and sharing'

'It’s a place to relax. You can talk openly and freely. Art means to me a sense of expression'

'I’ll tell you what it means to me. A change of scene, a therapy. A chance to share, a time to shine. Showing off a skill of mine. When days are busy, full of stress. There’s a place to self express. Exploring colour, texture, tone. Creating art to call my own.' 

'Garage Art Group is my haven.

I don’t ever remember feeling secure. I grew up in and environment of untreated mental illness, alcoholism and abuse of all kinds both in and out of my immediate family. From an early age I was... Shall we say, wired a little differently. The best way I can describe it is like my nightmares spilt into reality. I’m still not sure whether it was simply a child trying to make some sense of an unstable world or bad brain chemistry. Or a bit of both.

It wasn’t until I was a young teen that I approached my GP about my experiences. Up until that point I had learnt to keep things to myself. I mustered all the courage I had to be sent away with a prescription for herbal sleeping tablets, which did nothing to lessen the terror I felt all the time.

Fast forward a couple of years and a drunken rant about the voices I was hearing to a relative. Back to the GP I went. I told him everything that was going on in my life. The abuse, the drugs and drink that had become a habit. Apparently, it was normal for teenagers to be suicidal and hear voices, just part of growing up. I was sent on my way, again, with the advice now to try meditation. I was fifteen.

Spoiler alert, things got worse. I had my first full blown psychotic episode when I was twenty-one. It had been coming on gradually for years, but this is when I completely lost touch with reality. I was living in a London suburb at the time and the mental health team there though it best not to prescribe any medication. You know, just in case I took them all. Eventually I moved back to Evesham and started the treatment I needed.

I was under the care of the community mental health team for a few years before it was suggested that Garage Art Group might be good for me. That was over a decade ago.

My mental health has and probably will always be a struggle for me. But Garage Art is, without fail, consistent. The family that I have found here has pulled me through some of the hardest times in my life without even being aware of it. I didn’t tell anyone not involved when I reported one of my abusers to the police for fear that he was hurting other children. At that time, I thought about dying every day. I felt this unbearable weight of guilt for not doing something sooner and at the same time throwing all these lives around me into chaos. I wish I had reached out, and if it were happening today I would. That is a major milestone that being part of this group has helped me achieve. I have met some of the most amazing people that I have let in, which is a huge deal for me.

Last year I ended my marriage and had to move in with my mother for some time. She lives in a small village in a different county, about 40 minutes away. While living there I was getting the bus back to Evesham when I felt able so I could visit, often just have a cup of tea and a chat. When the time came for me to find a place of my own, I made a list of pros and cons to help me decide if I should stay in the village I was in or come back here. I need to tell you that I loved living there. There was one thing alone in the pro column for Evesham. Garage Art Group. I distinctly remember sitting by the river in the sun and writing Garage Art Group over and over, until the pro list was longer than the cons. I’m living in Evesham now and I can walk to the group. That one pro was so massive it outweighed everything else.

This place and the people who pour their heart and soul into making sure it is here for those who need it have made my life worth living. It doesn’t matter how many times I run away when I get scared or need a break for whatever reason I am always encouraged back with open arms. I love the feeling I get when I walk through the doors and the rest of the world vanishes. I have a long list of mental health diagnosis’ and everyday life is really hard for me. That all goes away when I am there, even if it’s just for a few hours a week.

We need Garage Art Group for every person that’s struggling in a system that doesn’t have the means to care for them. I truly believe that the whole community benefits because this lifeline is available. And this is all without even touching on the positive health effects of art.'