Red Balloons was developed in 2017, adapted from a blog from our founder Claire and her lived experience of ill mental health. Supported through her work as a volunteer for Mind and Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind, Red Balloons first came onto social media, to promote how exercise can help you manage your physical and mental health, before becoming a Peer Support group, meeting on Tuesday evenings. These meetings offered a safe space for people to voice their stories and their issues getting help and support, while receiving ideas and hints on how to improve their health, as well as motivation, encouragement and a sense of understanding.
Through the help and support of local organisations, such as Raindrops to Rainbows, Stockton Navigation, Stockton Soup, Cleveland Police, Stockton Riverside College, Hartlepool College of Further Education and the local media, Red Balloons has skyrocketed over the last two years. Through the sharing of Claire’s story of her suicide attempt to how exercise saved her life, we can now offer a variety of services across Teesside to help others.
Mental health is not a Monday to Friday, 9-5 illness, therefore we try to offer services outside of these times. We are an inclusive community, where we do not use the words such as service users, but anyone who accesses anything we do are referred to as “Members”. Everyone 16+, is welcome to join us, with Youth Services to be introduced in 2020.
We are currently a not for profit organisation, relying heavily on low overheads and fundraising to raise vital funds to enable us to continue our work. We are not trained counsellors or mental health professionals, what we are are people who have real life experience of a range of mental health conditions, who want to use this to help others. We want to help give our members the tools to be more confident in their own management of their conditions, knowing they have a staring support network to catch them if they fully. We are looking to achieve charitable status this year, which will enable us to improve and increase the services we offer and who we can reach.
We are very excited to see what this year, and the future holds for Red Balloons, the team of amazing volunteers and all of our members. A massive Thank You to everyone who has got us this far. We really could not have done it without you!
We aim to:
- Challenge Stigma & myths surrounding mental health
- Promote self-care & exercise to improve Wellbeing
- Offer supportive, accessible and affordable services – where possible offering fully funded services free to members
- Raise awareness of mental health issues & work towards normalising them
- Reduce loneliness/isolation
- Provide a non-judgemental support service
- Offer Peer Support programmes
- Get the inactive active
- Inspire & motivate individuals and groups
- Support businesses with their Wellbeing offer
- Focus on prevention of mental health issues
- Work alongside other organisations on suicide prevention and reduction
We aim to help our members improve and manage their mental health, through physical activity and talking. Our team all have their own lived experiences, and are trained to be supportive, encouraging and motivating.
We are committed to working together with our members, the local community, organisations and health professionals, to offer an inclusive and safe space for people to learn to manage their physical and mental health, with a network of support behind them.
We are dedicated to helping build a happier and healthier environment, where mental health can be discussed as openly and as confidently as physical health. We aim to reduce stigma, raise awareness of the trickier subjects such as suicide, work towards suicide prevention and help bust any myths around mental health.
We have big plans for 2020. Building on Claire’s hard work over the last 3 years we are looking to grow our Volunteer base and add more Walk and Talk and Run and Rant Sessions expanding into different areas. Alongside this we will be spending a lot of time networking with other Voluntary and Community Sector organisations with a view to working together over the coming years. We’ll also be looking to engage
with businesses to support the wellbeing of their employees.
We are currently developing 2 Projects which we are hoping to pilot in the first half of 2020. This will involve applying for funding. If we’re successful with the applications and the Pilot projects we’d like to move forward to then apply for larger pots of funding to enable us to launch larger Projects, ideally before the end of the year or early 2021. Ultimately, we’d like to be in a position over the next 3 years to employ staff and move into our own Premises
6 months ago I nervously went along to try out Red Balloons run and rant session never really having run consistently before. I knew I wanted to up my fitness to help my with both physical and mental health.
I met Claire and she instantly put me at ease. We walked for a bit and chatted and then started "running". Then I think I started wheezing 😆
Claire encouraged me to get to "the next bin" or "the next lamppost" before we'd take a walk break til my breathing became more normal. Then we'd run again.
I went back the next week and the next and did it again. It also encouraged me to go out on my own too doing a couple of couch to 5k runs. Claire encouraged me all the way.
From those humble beginnings I carried on and on. My goal was simply to get to a point where I could attempt a park run.
Now I've got a handful under my belt, increasing PB's and I'm running 2 5k's a week as well as other training.
Today I entered my first 10k run to challenge myself further.
I feel the difference in my fitness and I've dropped 20+ lbs since I started.
I'm proud of myself and so thankful to Claire for getting me started.
Thank you Red Balloons. 💕😍😃🎈🎈
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Attendees (since 26th February 2020) - 798 (+30)
Facebook Followers - 2598 (+6)
Instagram Followers - 206 (+1)
Twitter Followers - 669 (+2)
Website Visitors* - 1358 (+13)
(Figures as at 27th February 2021)
(* Website Visitors refers to the number of unique visitors to the site, not weekly visits)