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Equinox Nine Lives

Headline outcomes & statistics

Statement from Chair of Equinox Board

25th February 2015

Robert Branagh, Chair of Equinox Care: “Equinox Care exists to provide support, care and accommodation to people with multiple and complex needs, including mental ill health, drug dependence and alcohol dependence. We also work with people who have a history of homelessness or offending. In 2014, we worked with 1138 people across our services in […]

In 2014, 9 people who have used Equinox Care services during the year came together to create a mental health awareness campaign called ‘Equinox Nine Lives.’ The centrepiece of this campaign was a 13.5 minute audiovisual piece, blending audio interviews, professional photography, motion graphics and moving images.

Equinox Nine Lives combats stigma, celebrates diversity and highlights recovery achievements. The 9 contributors shared memories including:

The 9 participants also related their personal experiences of mental ill health, including how they picture their mind (see David’s video and Zarina’s video as examples), as well as strengths and insights gained in terms of maintaining recovery from schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, personality disorder and depression.

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City Hall screening on World Mental Health Day 2014:

Equinox Nine Lives, City Hall, mental health, service user involvement, Equinox Care 1Working with the mental health lead at City Hall, David Beyt, Equinox Nine Lives was screened at City Hall on World Mental Health Day 2014, opened by Deputy Mayor of London Victoria Borwick. Many thanks to former Equinox trustee, Catherine Max, who was instrumental in securing this prestigious venue for our launch and thanks must go to all the brilliant staff at City Hall who organised the event.

Introducing the film at City Hall, two Equinox service users, John and Kathleen, spoke about their experiences with mental ill health and recovery.

Chair of Equinox Board, Robert Branagh, also spoke at the event.

Robert said: “we are thrilled to be taking part in the celebrations of World Mental Health Day 2014 at City Hall. In Equinox Nine Lives, our contributors speak for themselves.”

Holborn Library installation:

From 10th October to 31st October, Camden Libraries hosted the Equinox Nine Lives exhibition – a big thank you to Peter Baxter.

Visitors could enjoy the Equinox Nine Lives film and portrait photography in the main entrance of Holborn Library.

Equinox Care workers were on site for eight 2-hour sessions over 3 weeks, speaking to 164 people of all ages and backgrounds. They included Laurie, who commented: “London’s a big metropolis. People can feel swamped here. All the choices we have here can sometimes be overwhelming.”

And Elina, who talked about the importance to her of good nutrition in terms of maintaining good mental health.

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GovKnow 3rd Annual Mental Health Conference:

On 4th December 2014, GovKnow invited Equinox to participate in their 3rd Annual Mental Health Conference at Coin Street Conference Centre.

Keith and John, representing Equinox Southampton Way and Equinox Lewisham, gave speeches they had prepared for the conference. Feedback from the GovKnow conference team was that the Equinox Nine Lives session ‘was one of the most interesting parts of the day. It made a really valuable contribution.’

Time To Change:

In January 2015, Time to Change distributed the Equinox Nine Lives film via their Twitter and Facebook platforms, to their audiences of over one hundred thousand people per platform. Many thanks to Time to Change for their support.

Time to Change said: “Mental health problems affect people from all walks of life. Equinox Care showed us some videos, we like them.”

Twitter user, Jamie, commented: “Anyone can be affected, it’s how we walk with our heads held high…talk, listen and support.”

Twitter user, Fiona, commented: “The best mental health photography I’ve seen in ages.”

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Equinox Nine Lives, Zarina’s story:

Equinox Brent logo“My name is Zarina and I am 20 years old. I love listening to music. I find it soothing and therapeutic and it helps me unwind.

“I also love seeing and talking to my Mum as she always gives me such great support and tells me that she is proud of me and she loves me.

“My life changed in the way that I couldn’t enjoy things anymore. Also I felt as if I was invisible and that no-one saw my struggle.

“My mind would be a swan, calm on the surface but paddling furiously under the surface to keep afloat.

“The most important thing to me is having a team of people ready to listen and support me all the time. Without them I wouldn’t be able to achieve the things I achieve today.

“I am proud of making a full recovery after having a serious breakdown because I really tried my best and I wanted to be well so much that I pushed myself to the limit.”

Equinox Brent:

  • Equinox Brent is a service for people who have experienced mental ill health and have previously been in high supported accommodation or hospital. At Equinox Brent, we help people over a 2 year period to prepare for moving on to lesser supported accommodation or complete independence.
  • Read about how Equinox Brent supported people to move on to greater independence in 2014.

More stories from Equinox Brent:

Equinox Nine Lives, David’s story:

Equinox Brent logo“My name is David and I am 45 years old.  I like music. I love listening to music. I’m learning to play guitar. I like to draw as well. I like to draw abstracts.

“If my mind and mental health was a colour? Brown, as in going round and round and round, cycle of life, no matter how it try to escape it, it’s there you know.

“A sky, a sun in the middle of the sky. There’d be like, natural formed columns, like mountain columns, side by side, and a bridge connecting them. It’s something that seems impossible to understand and overcome but there’s a path and assistance to getting across.

“I remember the voices said, ‘don’t tell anyone or they’ll lock you up in a psychiatric unit.’ That’s what they said. I actually told my family that I was hearing voices but that sort of went over their head.

“If I’m aware that I’m hallucinating about something or my mind is going in one direction it shouldn’t be going in, then I can stay on top of it, you know. It’s finding somewhere quiet, where I can be alone, to gather my thoughts. The first thing to confront in overcoming your mental health is accepting it.”

  • Find out more about Equinox Nine Lives, an audiovisual project celebrating the distinct voices and experiences of people who have experienced mental ill health and recovery

Equinox Brent:

  • Equinox Brent is a service for people who have experienced mental ill health and have previously been in high supported accommodation or hospital. At Equinox Brent, we help people over a 2 year period to prepare for moving on to lesser supported accommodation or complete independence.
  • Read about how Equinox Brent supported people to move on to greater independence in 2014.

More stories from Equinox Brent:

Equinox Nine Lives, Ann’s story:

“Hello, my name’s Ann and I’m nearly 55. I’ve got 4 daughters, who I love very much, and I’ve got 3 grandchildren. One’s 10 and the other two are 5.

“Like, if I haven’t seen them for a little while, they always come running over to me, ‘Nanny, Nanny’. And then they just give me a little cuddle. I think they love their Nanny.

“When I was little, me Mum used to knit baby booties for my youngest brother. And I used to finger knit. Then as I got older, I started to do my own knitting and I ended making my daughter a big blanket for the bed, two colours.

“If I’m unwell, I feel suicidal. And I get a lot of horrible thoughts in my head. That I don’t want to be here anymore.

“I feel different. I feel in a way that I’ve let my children down. But you’ve got to try and be strong and say, no, you couldn’t be there for them then. You’re there for them now.

“You could lock yourself up with pain and not want no-one to know and then it just gets worse and worse but if you can talk it out, sometimes you can get that little bit of support and it makes it ten times better.”

Equinox Nine Lives, Kathleen’s story:

“Kathleen, 44. Some days I have a good mood. Some days I have a bad mood. When I have a bad mood, I won’t eat or won’t talk to no-one.

“I speak to my keyworker Adrienne.  She helped me through the cancer. All the appointments I went to in hospital. She goes with me. She was with me for the operation, all day long. She’s been very good. She said to me: “Any problems, just come in the office and speak to her any time or ring her on the mobile.”

“Do not let it bottle up inside you. It don’t work. Just speak to people. Let them know what’s going on in your head.

“We go for a bus ride at Lewisham. Any problem, we just talk about it on the bus to ourselves. We have a laugh about it.  It does help. Get you out your house.  Or massage that is good. I went on Tuesday. Relaxes me. Get all the stress out. Aches and pains go away.

“I love cats. I’ve got a T-shirt with a cat on. Make me feel happy. Friendly cat, way he look at me and he eats a bit of my meat off my plate. I don’t mind that.”

Equinox Nine Lives, Henry’s story:

Equinox Lewisham logo“My name is Henry and I’m 43 years old. I like cars, yeah, because I did used to be a motor mechanic. I like the engines best, the engines are the best part of the car because when I was a young kid, well like 17, I did own a car. They were little Minis, you can fix them up and you can supe up the engines to different CCs.

“I think at the beginning was the hardest time when I first got ill, you know what I mean. I was really sick man, I don’t know what it was but I kept on imagining things. When you hear voices, it does make you paranoid, that’s what you feel. And I’m a strong-minded person, I thought I could have ended my life for good.

“Well, because I took medication and I had somewhere to stay to take medication, obviously I knew when to go for help, you know what I mean. I don’t get into the position I was in before where I had nowhere to go.

“I think it’s my friends help me the most, my friends and the people in the hostels that I’ve been at and the hospital. And probably my brother.

“I want to go on holiday this year. I want to go abroad on holiday. And I really want to do this, because obviously I’ve got a car yeah. And if I do this right, plan this holiday right, I can have a really nice time in probably Spain or Portugal or something, you know what I mean. I really would like this to go well.”

More stories from Equinox Lewisham in 2014:

Equinox Lewisham provide supported housing and assertive outreach for people who experience mental ill health, many of whom have other needs including a history of homelessness, offending, alcohol dependence and drug dependence.

Equinox Nine Lives, John’s story:

Equinox Lewisham logo“My first name is John. I am 58 years this year. I feel happy because I have the opportunity to voice my opinion and share my experiences in mental health.

“I was born in Nigeria, approximately 1956. My Mum died when I was very young. My father was in Great Britain during the Biafran War. So I was left in a village with only my granddad, who did not speak a word of English and didn’t know much about education.  I had to learn how to cook, get the firewood, bring the water from the well. Yeah, I grew up very quickly.

“It all began approximately 1972. I divided.  I became aware of mental health approximately 1978 when I got to know that there is something called schizophrenia. Although schizophrenia is not my enemy. I was about 16 to 18 years old when I began. Although I did not panic when I divided.

“If I can visualise tomorrow, which I am trying to do, if I put my life on a scale, tomorrow is better than yesterday.

“I’ve just learned how to laugh not long ago. I used to be so handsome, I looked miserable. But I’m able to smile and laugh now. I laugh because my mind is a lot better than what it used to be.”

More stories from Equinox Lewisham in 2014:

Equinox Nine Lives, Amazing’s story:

Equinox Southampton Way logo“My name is Amazing Grace and I am 47 years old. I lived in many areas, but mainly I spent my life in my youth in Nigeria.

“It’s confusing I must tell you. Because I remember as if I was a baby in the pram, hearing voices. You know a baby, can you imagine? Not even 1 year old, can’t walk, can’t crawl. I was hearing voices.

“I trained as a journalist, I think, by then I was 18. I was doing well academically. 100% A in 4 aspects. I went to Oxford University and I got first class in media studies and advanced technology for the postgraduate.

“I felt tired. I felt angry. Then my GP said, ‘you’re suffering from stress, mental stress,’ which means schizophrenia.’

“So when I was told that I was a bit sad, you know. I felt I don’t need all this. But then, I was coping very well.

“When I became unwell, the doctors said, ‘don’t do any study or jobs anymore’. Of course, I didn’t listen to them. I went on to college, did well, went to get jobs, you know.

“Hardest thing? The voices, the tiredness, the side effects, because I have cancer as well. But I have done very well in terms of how I’ve dealt with the schizophrenia in particular.”

More stories from Equinox Southampton Way:

Equinox Nine Lives, Keith’s story:

Equinox Southampton Way logo“Alright, my name is Keith Giles. And my age is 50 years old. I was born in Lambeth North and I weigh 2.14 ounces. And I was so small, my grandma who passed away recently, she said ‘nurse, is he a normal baby?’ Nurse: ‘he’s alive and kicking.’

“Oh my life, oh wonderful. I enjoy going on holidays. I enjoy working. I worked for the biggest meat market in the world, we call Smithfield meat market.

“Mental illness started when I was about 24 years old, when my family split up over here, my Mum and my Dad, in the middle of a winter. I didn’t even have nowhere to go. I’d just started my job with Smithfield and I was really stressed out. Mental illness is like the cold weather. I can’t take the cold weather. One morning I went to drive and I couldn’t even spin the wheel on the car. And this lady, actually, Melanie, she actually find a space for me in the Maudsley hospital.

“I could go to my family anytime of the night or day and knock and get a welcome. In my life, I enjoy listening to music. I remember there’s a song that I really love.

Many rivers to cross
And I can’t seem to find my way over
By the river I’m lost as I travel along
White cliffs Dover
I’ve been washed, licked up for years
And I merely survive because of my pride

“My smile mean a lot to me. I always smile. Always smile. You know what pop style mean, do you? Pop style is like, showing off.  Cos my gold tooth, I’m showing it. No, no, I’m a happy man. I’m a happy going man, you know. You want to pave the way, make people enjoy what you say and what you do. Yeah.”

More stories from Equinox Southampton Way: