Our very first face to face session of the Shore-Up Social Club (so you can know what to expect)

It was a cold wet and windy day in Leeds, I battled through the elements and found my way to the warm and welcoming reception at Heart in Headingley. It was busy, the sound of jazz filled the air and contented chatter floated through from the cafe.

I carried my boxes and bags filled with books, pens, games and a whole array of different activities up the stairs to a lovely space filled with light where the strains of jazz could still be heard floating on the breeze. The Shore-Up volunteers joined me, and we set the room up: a large table for the whole group to sit around, a smaller table for those that might want some quiet, a comfy seating area for those that want a different bit of space.

I got out all the bits and bobs, all the different activities: crafts, puzzles, books, buttons, newspaper and more. Such a large array of things.

I stopped. I looked. I worried: was that too much choice? would it be overwhelming?

But then I found the ‘Try this if...’ info sheets.

These are the lists of all the activities we have available at Shore-Up Social Club with descriptions of why you might want to try that activity.

Ideas about creativity, the importance of finishing, or the value of having something to take home to finish, descriptions of the potential positives and negatives of the different things you could choose to do. All organised, clear and easy to navigate.

Once I put these out on the large table, the small table, in the sitting area and the volunteers knew all the options and how to help people if there’s that feeling of overwhelm, I felt more comfortable with the number of options I’d brought along.

I spoke to all the volunteers about who had booked to come that day and who might need some extra help and what that help might look like.

Then we all found our places: one volunteer in the reception to guide people up to our calm and quiet oasis of activity, one on tea duty and one checked out where the toilets were so we could direct people of needed.

And then people started to arrive.Some at 1.30, some a bit later. It really didn't matter. What mattered was that they made it and felt welcomed in.

We guided people through the options of activities, some people had brought their own stuff to do, some people tried a couple of different things we'd brought. Teas and coffees arrived. Everyone got on with something and chatted while they did their own thing.

In a little gap in conversation, I took the opportunity to introduce myself fully, talk a little bit about occupational therapy and invite people to have a think about how they were feeling. I talked about how the idea of the Shore-Up Social Club is to find out whether or not having a bit of time out from life, doing something in the company of other people can help you feel different.

Does what we do impact on how we feel? That's the question.

To answer that question, we can take notice of how we're feeling before we start something and after we’re done. So, I asked people to take a moment:

  • To think about how their thoughts were in that moment: racing, slow, muddled, clear, something else altogether?

  • How was their body feeling right there and then: tense, jittery, relaxed, warm, cold? What was going on physically for them in the moment?

  • And finally, what were their emotions doing whilst they sat in our dedicated activity and social space? Were they happy, nervous, anxious, bored, relaxed? What was going on.

We didn’t share these thoughts, just noticed for ourselves what was going on for us as individuals.

And then we all just got on with the afternoon.

There was sewing, mending, doodling, button sorting, paint by stickers, embroidery, card making, newspaper reading, cross word doing, calligraphy, Zentangles and knitting.

There was chit chat, there were quiet times, there were small conversations between one or two people and wider bits of chat amongst the whole group.

The atmosphere was busy yet restful, focussed but relaxed and everyone who came commented that it had been a nice place to be.

Most people said they’d like to come back and were keen to be invited to future events.

This tells me that something was good here, something worked.

At the very end, I again invited people to revisit those reflections that we’d started with:

how were people’s thoughts, bodies and emotions at the end of the session?

Hopefully there was a positive difference.

I definitely found the whole experience positive; from nerves about whether people would turn up and worries about if this really was a helpful thing to be doing, to finding my own bit of restful activity in the company of others and being able to plan for more Shore-Up Social Club sessions.

Following the success of this in person event and previous online events, we have planned monthly Shore-Up Social Club sessions alternating between virtual sessions on Zoom and face to face events at Heart. Hopefully, this will mean that everyone who wants to, can have access to this community at the level that feels right for them.

Our next session will be online and the planned sessions for this year are detailed on the table below:

If you’re on our contacts list, please check you junk folders as our emails often end up there!

Our next session is on Zoom on Wednesday 23rd March 8-9 p.m.

The idea is the same whether we’re meeting online or in real life: can doing something that you like, in the company of others make a difference to how you feel?

Bring your own project, task or activity, have a look at some of the suggestions on the email (sent to our contacts list and anyone who registers for the event via Eventbrite which you can do by clicking this link Shore-Up Social Club Registration) or just get in touch, we’re happy to help you come up with some ideas.

If you’re not on our contact list and would like details and the Zoom link, please register via Eventbrite here or get in touch using:

the Shore-up contact page


or text or phone Kate on 07966 964 316

I hope to see some of you soon,

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