We work with local communities to identify historic buildings and landscapes where people can encounter peace, beauty and a reverence for life by working with traditional crafts to foster skills, social connections and improved health. We encourage participants to develop a ‘felt sense’ as they learn to work with all kinds of natural material and to contemplate the meaning and value that they encounter.
By learning to attend patiently and curiously in this context, we have learned that participants notice and respond to emerging feelings of kinship and belonging to a family collectively engaged in healing, and renewal. With this awareness, comes an acceptance, and perhaps even gratitude, for our inherent state of health and wholeness, and a discovery of our own depth and potential for forming life-giving relationships. We call this process of encountering value ‘fathoming’, and think it lies at the heart of Making Well.
Making Well is built on the idea of depth, the enriching connections that result from a deep, personal engagement with body, mind, and soul, with communities and the natural world. Through an enriched environment of care and learning, Making Well offers a place of safety, inclusivity for mindful participation in craftsmanship, conservation, and contemplation. Through this, Making Well helps people to discover and value this sense of depth and with it create a more soulful approach to health, healing and growth.
Through soulful engagement, participants first learn to feel valued and then develop a personal understanding of the value and meaning created in relationship with others.
Making Well creates the conditions for people to flourish through its myriad situated processes – grounding, embodied awareness, flow, sharing, doing hard things – and bestows a unique opportunity upon artisans to gain deep insights into and reflections of the emotions, histories and motivations of their attendants. Each artisan’s personal story of finding health in the midst of illness, is expressed discreetly and differently through their craft and the way it helps them relates to the world. This helps each group to explore their own lived experiences and to notice and acknowledge changes in beliefs, hopes, expectations and fears, and how these can be attributed to mindful participation.
How can we measure the value of Making Well to its participants without losing the sense of depth achieved through the mindful, therapeutic engagement in craft?
Reflections on significant events in human lives are often revealed through stories. These vocalised accounts tell of what has happened, what they did, when and why, and the reasons why the change was important to them. The Value of Making Well to its participants – and its practitioners – can best be determined through the telling of stories. Moreover, the act of committing stories to record may enhance benefits gained from their expression.
Practitioners are uniquely placed to encourage this ancient practice, to listen and record personal, naturalistic accounts of individual (or joint) experiences, of personal change/growth achieved through engaging in the creative art of making of ‘things’. Recounted stories will not only be invaluable, deeply personal matters of record, but the act of telling has considerable additional therapeutic potential, creating the circumstances under which acceptance can emerge with the honouring of emotions with attendant enrichment of mind, body and soul.
As a general principle, the giving of deeply personal, confidential and potentially difficult accounts cannot be hurried. Stories may emerge episodically over time, but through focusing on what was most meaningful to participants, a personal narrative arc will naturally emerge, perhaps embellished with new crafted or historic artefacts. For some, stories may crystalise later, after further reflection in the aftermath of their Making Well experience. Opportunities to ‘deposit’ their stories require continued connection, perhaps through the Fathom Trust’s Story Days or Crafters Café.
Story Banks are more than mere libraries or archives. Thoughtfully curated and annotated, they are invaluable, constantly evolving, information rich resources. For Fathom, a multi-media Story Bank, co-created by Making Well’s practitioners and participants, offers opportunities for learning, for refining and evolving Making Well itself as well as Fathom’s other programmes. Moreover, it offers myriad opportunities for sharing, connecting, and communicating with local and regional communities, referrers, donors, stakeholders, and others. Furthermore, with thoughtful annotation and internal referencing, the anticipated richness of information held in the story bank provides unique opportunities to address the challenge of comprehending Fathom’s approach to spiritual growth and renewal, a challenge that traditional methodologies fail to adequately describe at the programme level.
The richness of personal accounts of value and meaning held in the Story Bank will enable understandings to be gained at the personal level, where mindful and spiritual experiences of Making Well converge to bring about change, and from which the fundamental value of soulful engagement in craft is predicted to be revealed.