So it's been a while since we posted anything on the blog and it's for no other reason than we haven't had time, but I have missed it. Blogging played it's part in the creation of Bridge the Gap, as I would write and explore my feelings through online journaling, I was able to apply my knowledge to practical everyday scenarios and make emotional literacy more accessible and digestible. I have blogged for years (anyone remember Halfway Through the Wood?) and the creativity was good for my mental health and well-being, and at a time when work is busier than ever I felt it an appropriate time to get back into good habits and what better point to start than reflecting on our open afternoon?
Let me take you back...
Three years ago I decided that my passion for Emotional Literacy was taking me on a different path, I felt that I had answers that I had been searching for my whole life and I didn't even know I had been looking. I was able to meet some fantastic people along the way who inspired me and helped me to join the dots and see a bigger picture; they gave me a voice.
I have struggled with 'Imposter Syndrome' a lot over Bridge the Gap's formative years as I have asked myself time and time again, "Who am I to be doing all this?", and here's the answer...I am me. I am Jennifer, a passionate early years educator with the tangible experience and knowledge to bring Bridge the Gap to life. I have been given a voice and I should use it. Whatever Bridge the Gap has become over the years it has become it because of me, I got up and did something and that gives me every right to be talking the talk and spreading the word. Now, Bridge the Gap is more than parent workshops these days and that is not just because of me, it wouldn't be here today without our wonderful Nikki Webster, the mental health nurse with the expertise, heart and vision to build this fantastic and much needed organisation.
It was Nikki with her, "Jen, let's just do it!" attitude who decided we should have an open day to mark the start of Children's Mental Health Week. On it's own, it wouldn't have been overwhelming but put into a few weeks of full-on 7 day weeks then it felt like a crazy idea - but 'just do it' we did. Nikki set about organising everything and we both got shopping and asking for support, this Saturday we all pulled together (friends and family - thank you) to raise awareness and funds for child mental health.
As we set about turning the rooms around after the Saturday morning sessions our supportive cavalry arrived and when 2:00pm arrived we felt like everything looked pretty brilliant. We had the lovely Dani Bello delivering a creative expressive session upstairs and all of a sudden we thought..."what if nobody comes?". What if we are left with more stock and cakes than we know what to do with? And then you all arrived.
Seeing the people who we have come to know and recognise walk through those doors was quite a moment for me, for us, our 'Bridge the Gap Children' and their families, the parents we have supported and the people who have been observing us closely via social media all came in their droves to show us some support and to see the space and, fortunately, to spend their money. In fact, we have just about finished counting and we look to have raised just shy of £500 - that is incredible and will go along way to the continued running of the service.
So three years ago I decided to sit and write a workshop and then share that information with parents in the hope it helped them to feel empowered like I did, then on Saturday I had a true moment of "look what we've done". You shared your stories with us, told us times where you'd utilised strategies that have helped and told us of the progress your child had made - thank you.
Do we always get it right? No, absolutely not. With growth comes learning and as people are stretched we are having to try and put provisions in place to help us cope with the increase of service users, this makes your fundraising even more vital as we need administration staff to ensure nobodies calls or emails slip through the net, but we will get there.
So thank you for Saturday and thank you for your continued support (and patience) as we move into a new era we are privileged to have you with us - our Bridge the Gap Family.