Start in Salford was in action on the big screen in order to put people in the picture and spread the message of its invaluable work treating mental health issues in the community. The Broad Street based charity is independent from central and local government and relies on many different sources for funding.
Start in Salford services around 1000 people from the Salford area every year, re-building their confidence and self esteem through a variety of art and craft based therapies. The classes and courses are so successful that some of the service users have gone on to attain first class degrees in art at university. And some of these highly successful services users have been highlighted in the twelve minute film Five Steps produced by Quays based public relations company Hive.
The film features service users who have benefited from classes in drawing, pottery, photography and woodcraft, and was premiered at the University of Salford Media Building's Egg Suite in Media City.
"The film is a wonderful way of celebrating the achievement of some of our members and gaining support for our charity" says Michelle Dennett from the Start in Salford team "The film is a high quality piece which we are hoping will get people talking about mental health, and the things everyone can do to help themselves who may be suffering at the moment."
Amongst people watching the film premiere was Start in Salford supporter and Coronation Street actress Jenny McAlpine. Jenny, who, along with her father Tom, contributes to the running of the bi polar charity Mood Swings, spoke enthusiastically to the audience about the film and its inspirational message.
The film featured some of the most high achieving service users but the charity also benefits thousands of Salfordians who may be suffering mental health issues from alcoholism to anxiety encouraging them to re-engage with society.
"Start in Salford supports some of the most vulnerable members of our community, many of whom are isolated and stigmatised because of their mental health problems" explained Bernadette Conlon who founded the charity twenty years ago.
"Our aim is to instil a sense of worth into everyone who looks to us for support, and help them to achieve their full potential" she added "To some that may be aspiring to go to college or work, for others it may be catching the bus, forming friendship groups or simply leaving the house. We never underestimate the accomplishments of our members, we are so proud of what they are achieving everyday through being at Start."
Having visited the charity facilities at the converted school on Broad Street, I can attest to its quiet but valuable work, healing some of the often unseen but never the less deep wounds resulting from the many pressures of modern living.
Words and photo by Nigel Pivaro