CoolFruit magazine: a channel for creativity
The online publication CoolFruit is produced by Southwark-based arts and mental health charity CoolTan Arts, and is put together by a team of ten talented contributors. It features content from participants, volunteers and CoolTan staff, most of whom have long-term mental health needs.
Giving people a voice
The magazine provides adults with mental health issues a platform to express their creativity through writing, art and design, and is supported by generous donations.
‘CoolFruit gives people with mental health issues a voice; they need to be heard a lot more about what’s happening to them,’ says Annie Spinster, Coordinator of CoolFruit.
‘There’s an amazing amount of talent in the group and it’s lovely watching people’s skills develop and seeing how excited everybody is when their work is featured. Contributors feel proud to be able to show their family and friends what they’re doing and be treated seriously as artists.’
The fourth issue of the magazine is now available to read online. The December issue reflects the themes of the festive season together with items about important social issues. It features poetry, recipes and artwork, as well as articles on diverse subjects such as self-advocacy, Seasonal Affective Disorder and the history of the umbrella.
Working on the magazine provides contributors with an opportunity to improve their writing, research or design skills, as well as develop a portfolio of work for those who are preparing for college or employment.
‘It gives them confidence and they get to meet new people within a supportive environment,’ says Annie. ‘Our volunteers have told us that it’s a lot easier to share their experiences than it has been in other settings – and we’re good at going at people’s own paces.
‘Over half the volunteers who have worked on and since moved on from the project have actually gone on to work or college, so that is something we’re doing quite well.’
The online format with unrestricted space encourages a wide range of content, so CoolFruit run an open submissions policy for anyone within CoolTan Arts who wishes to participate.
Hattie is a volunteer at CoolTan Arts and has been working on the CoolFruit team as a writer since early 2014. She says there are a number of elements she enjoys, such as the supportive group environment.
‘It’s a good thing to have structure in my week and allows me to meet up with people that have a common goal: producing the magazine. I try and write about things that I wish I had known and would have found helpful. It feels like we’re doing something that not only helps us, but helps other people.’
Read the December issue of CoolFruit.
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