Supporting people experiencing mental health issues to build confidence, self esteem and skills

Links is a unique Llanelli Mental Health Charity, providing support and learning opportunities to those within our community who have or are experiencing mental ill-health. Links aims to help people to build their self confidence and self esteem by offering a range of accredited and non accredited supportive creative learning opportunities as well as progressive, person-centered personal development plans.

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group stone art  photo

What we do

Links is a Carmarthenshire based mental health charity, supporting adults with mental health needs and social issues to move on in their lives, in a creative, learning and confidence building environment. Over the past 25 years this has helped people improve their self-confidence, promoted the acquisition of skills and has enabled people to move on to access further mainstream services. Our service largely supports people within the town of Llanelli, but some come and are very welcome from further afield in Carmarthenshire.

Support

  • We offer flexible learning opportunities to people who have mental health problems
  • We offer a warm and supportive environment where people can work in groups, on their own or at their own pace and level
  • We offer a range of learning opportunities, to develop new skills and to stimulate existing ones
  • We provide an outlet for creative expression
  • We can provide information and support to enable people to explore avenues into mainstream training and employment, both paid and unpaid

Our main aim is to support people with mental health problems and to build their confidence and self esteem. If you would like to join Links you can self refer by contacting us, alternatively your GP can refer you or any other support network that you currently use.

kitchen prep photo
 Combined forces poppy wreath

Combined Forces Project

Links also provides support for veterans and blue light teams living in Carmarthenshire. Veterans are able to access all the activities available at Links. Additionally, for those who live in rural areas or are socially isolated,  can be provided with befriending buddy telephone calls and outreach NAAFI mornings which are held in various locations throughout Carmarthenshire on a monthly basis.

What we do

  • A range of supported indoor and outdoor activities
  • NAAFI style meetings throughout Carmarthenshire
  • Welfare and benefit signposting and support
  • Buddying/Befriending Scheme

Why Attend?
For any of the following:

  • Reduce isolation by meeting up with others with similar experiences and military backgrounds
  • To assist with the transition into civvy street
  • To receive support with any mental ill health you may be experiencing
  • To learn new skills, build confidence and self esteem
  • For support with moving back into work
  • Signposting to other organisations who may be able to help you

Who Can Join?

  • Anyone who has served in the military, family members of a veteran and all Blue Light service personnel.
  • Any ex-serviceman/woman who is experiencing mental health problems

Activities

cooking ingredients photo

Cooking

The purpose of the communal Cooking Session is to encourage each other to eat healthy and to demonstrate and share how easy and fun 'clean eating' is to prepare and to most importantly... eat! Meat/fish dishes are always accompanied with an abundance of fresh vegetables and fresh herbs. We also cook vegetarian and vegan meals and desserts too. We always cook from scratch. The benefits of ingredients are highlighted throughout each class to inform participants about the importance of all the essential nutrients that our bodies need. ”Some members are now converted to snacking on crispy kale rather than a bag of crisps!” Karen - Cookery Tutor. Healthy eating = Healthy body and healthy mind.

Computer class

Computer Skills

Learn Direct courses are being offered at Links in our ICT suite. Sessions are timetabled regularly and at different times of the day. The Learn Direct system of delivery has shown to be very popular with members offering a wide and varied range of courses, including computerised art, Word Processing, Spreadsheets, computer basics and every day IT. Courses are completed at the members own pace. Certificates are awarded to participants on successful completion of their course. Members who are not ready to enrol for Learn Direct Courses are set supportive preparatory work based on, keyboard skills, mouse skills and getting used to the computer sessions.

Relaxation class

Relaxation

We do some fun activities to practice Mindfulness here at Links, bringing our attention to the present moment. This is followed by some light stretching exercises and finished off with some helpful breathing techniques with soft music. All relaxation sessions are in a comfortable, safe and relaxing setting.

painting class

Art

It’s often heard, ‘I’m rubbish at art’ or 'I can’t draw.’ However, in a peaceful and positive environment we all encourage each other to relax and enjoy when embarking on an experimental journey. You can't go wrong in art! Making a mistake can sometimes become a turning point, where a successful piece of imagery can result in a pleasant surprise and a boost in confidence. In Links art sessions, we explore the formal elements of line, colour and tone through different and sometimes unfamiliar drawing and painting techniques. Karen uses a wide range of mediums and sometimes unusual materials that lead members to exciting and innovative compositions.
“It is so rewarding to see members coming out of their comfort zone and enjoying the whole creative process.” Karen - Art Tutor. We have regular exhibitions at different venues, to show and celebrate the members growth.

textiles & crafts class

Textiles & Crafts

Informal sessions take place on Fridays. Members utilise these sessions to work on individual work, or to finish off previous projects. Some members use the materials provided by Link’s, others bring in their own from home. Some participants enjoy knitting, sewing, or crochet, others are more interested in drawing and painting or other crafts. These sessions are a time where people can be creative, imaginative and socialise in a safe, peaceful space.

ceramics class

Ceramics

Ceramics sessions are held at Links where participants learn about the properties and methods of working with clay. The sessions are suitable for beginners and those with experience of using clay too. Topics covered: kneading and preparing the clay, making pinch pots, learning joining techniques, making a coil pot and using slabbing techniques. These are all part of the introduction to ceramics. Having this skillset will support you when beginning to work with clay and develop further techniques in future sessions including adding textures and glazes to the clay, making items such as keyrings, jewellery (beads, pendants), decorated 2D work and 3D sculptures.

enamelling class

Enamelling

Enamelling is using copper blanks and powdered glass in order to create artwork using a kiln. Members learn how to prepare the copper blanks by cleaning them with wire wool and then how to apply the layers of glass powder. The prepared items are placed into a kiln on a wire tray in order to fire them and melt the glass powder onto the prepared copper blanks. Each piece is unique and one of a kind! These can then be made into a variety of things such as keyrings and jewellery items. A fantastic skill to learn and make your own.

digital photography class

Photography

Links photography group meets every Wednesday and Thursday. The group uses the morning part of the session to go out on location and take photographs, often visiting interesting places in and around Llanelli and occasionally travelling further afield. In the afternoon sessions, members work on the photographs using Photoshop - cropping, enhancing, colour correction etc. Some of the images are printed and shown in photographic exhibitions and events too. “Since joining Links photography, many members have become more outgoing and developed their skills. Their patience and enthusiasm is rewarded in the quality of their photography. During exhibitions, members' hard work is responsible for the sale of many photos which is great to see. This photograph is an example of this.” Ross - Photography Tutor.

natural materials class

Natural Materials

The group at Links work on many projects throughout the seasonal calendar. Wooden items are prepared by striping bark and sanding the wood creating a smooth surface to work on, designs can then be pencilled onto the surface and then burnt in using the pyrography tool. Wood used includes Ash, Hazel, Holly, Sycamore, Elder, Wych Elm and others. Many objects have been worked on including: decorations, wooden animals, kitchen utensils, key rings, name plaques, house signs, mobiles, walking sticks, egg cups , wooden blanks and wooden beads.

Outdoor activities photo

Outdoor Activities

At Links, we value the great outdoors. Throughout the year, multiple events and trips take place. Some of the outdoor activities might include walking, gardening, fishing, art and photography walks, litter picking, dog walks, trips to further afield and cycling with the Links’ bikes. Previously members have even visited the Welsh Barn Farm where they’ve helped by mucking out the donkeys or feeding the goats. Please keep an eye on the website news page and our Facebook for outdoor activities and trip updates.

Music class

Music and Other Workshops

Previously, members took part in a set of workshops with ‘Tune into potential’. They created and recorded wonderful songs on CD that can be heard on the ‘Our News’ section. Other musical opportunities will be on the horizon as well as additional one off workshops and opportunities. Keep an eye out for announcements on the Links website and Facebook page.

Model making class

Figure Painting and Model Building

One of the classes we run is model building and figure painting. This is one of the classes that the Veterans love and enjoy. As well as learning a new skill, helping to concentrate the mind leading to better mindfulness, the atmosphere of the class is welcoming. Whether you want to build a tank, plane, train or a ship we have a large collection of models to choose from all donated by Models for Heroes. For figures we have several scales of military figures but other areas of interest can be obtained including, civilian, horror, steampunk and fairies. Come along and give it a try, you might surprise yourself.

Who are we?

Our Work
Links was founded in the mid-1990’s to offer structured learning opportunities to people with mental health problems. Over the years Links has grown from strength to strength offering a variety of courses, events and workshops which all respond to the needs and interests of its members.

  • We are user-led, with many staff/trustees having first hand knowledge and experience of mental health. We have a framework of user-led monthly forums and a member's committee.
  • Peer support is a great strengths of Links - its ability to bring people together in friendship, laughter, listening and sharing problems is central to maintaining the well-being of many members.
  • Enterprise and ownership - members are keen to take ownership of projects and come up with their own ideas, such as setting up art exhibitions which widen understanding of mental health within the community. Building on individual strengths of members is seen as key.
  • Our rich time table of creative and health/well-being activities are aimed at helping users to manage their mental health in everyday life, by equipping them with skills and knowledge to help sustain a positive mood after they have left the building. For example, photography, painting, creative writing, cookery are all fantastic creative outlets for coping with a mental health condition and have helped people to maintain their well-being and avoid relapse.
  • Relationships; Links has established and respected presence in the local community, where people and relatives of members are keen to support where possible. Our 25 years of experience working in the Carmarthenshire area to support the local community and mental health services, has established a firm reputation of providing a quality, important service, with knowledgeable, skilled and passionate staff. We regularly get feedback stating how valuable the project is to our stakeholders.
  • Links benefits from a high-spec accessible facility, located in Llanelli town centre. This range of spaces offers great flexibility in response to the interests and needs of the member classes.
  • We offer trips, events and visits to different locations which are all planned based on members interests and ideas. We also have many visitors such as musicians, photographers, Social Support, The Fire Service, local artists, Police and other professions that offer workshops, advice and talks. Continuously, we aim to build up excellent relationships with the wider community in and outside of Links.
  • We facilitate “member champion” opportunities for individuals to increase their confidence and support other members during their time at Links.

Structure and Staffing
Links staff team consists of commited full and part time workers and volunteers.
We have our own tutors, all of whom are qualified, knowledgeable and very experienced.

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