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Kintsugi (pronounced Kin-soo-gy)

Kintsugi is a Japanese idea, which means taking something broken and using gold to fix it, making it even more beautiful than it was before.

Here at The Kintsugi Project, we believe that society is broken. We want to work together with our community to make it better and more beautiful.

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So many people in our society people feel left out and lonely. This might be because they have a disability, long term physical conditions, learning difficulties, autism, mental health difficulties, or because they don’t have a steady place to live or have survived something traumatic.

We want this to change!

The Kintsugi Project is about building a better community, that includes everyone.

When we talk to people who feel excluded, they tell us that they want a life, not a service. That means not just having “special groups”, only for people with difficulties, where you do an activity, ‘just for the sake of it’. It means coming together to do something meaningful, that contributes in some way and brings purpose.

Because ultimately, we all want the same things in life;

  • To be included 

  • To have somewhere to go, where we are accepted for who we are 

  • To have meaningful things to do which are more than just ‘killing time’ or ‘keeping us busy’

  • To meet people from all walks of life who don’t judge us and recognise our strengths and values

Come join us as we create a community that works for everybody!

We hope to see you very soon,

The Kintsugi Team

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People with disabilities and mental health problems are some of the most marginalised, excluded and isolated groups in society. Whilst we know that radical change needs to happen on an economic and political level to counter the social determinants of mental health, disability and distress, we know that more equal, connected communities contribute to better mental health and well-being and also has economic gains. 

Research by Scope found that nearly half of working age adults with disabilities feel chronically lonely, equating to around 3 million people in the UK. On a typical day, 1 in 8 people with disabilities have less than half an hour interaction with other people and 85% of young adults with disabilities report feeling lonely. Being lonely isn't something exclusive to people with disabilities, but they face many additional barriers to connecting with their communities ranging from a lack of accessible transport, accessible social spaces, lack of social care support, and ever increasing health-inequalities which mean they are more likely to suffer from poor physical and mental health than the general population and getting out just becomes harder. But it goes deeper than that - so many of the services set up to support people with disabilities and the society around them remain focused on the person's disability rather than the person themselves - meaning that a sense of self, identity and value are so often lost or overlooked. 

Research has shown in abundance the importance of connection, compassion and community in supporting people with mental health problems and disabilities to improve their well-being. Research carried out in Devon with people with a range of disabilities and mental health difficulties found that joining a community project enabled them to move from being socially isolated, to feeling connected, gain independence whilst feeling safe, gain real work skills and feel accomplished through being challenged and having responsibility. They also reported that having a spaces for and created with other people with disabilities gave them a sense of ownership and pride often not felt in their lives, which helped them accept their disabilities and differences. They also felt being connected to the outdoors helped this as they were enabled to enjoy a range of new opportunities surrounded by beauty rather than being encased in traditional, urban buildings common to typical services for people with disabilities. 

Social prescribing is currently a hot topic in health and social care with emerging evidence suggesting that participants involved in social prescribing schemes experience improved quality of life and general wellbeing, reduction in anxiety and depression, with professionals and commissioners reporting high levels of satisfaction. More interestingly some studies have suggested social prescribing can result in reduced use of NHS services including A&E attendance, outpatient appointments and inpatient admissions. Social prescribing schemes utilise the power of community connections, outdoor space, learning new skills to forge connections and build community capital. 

Initial research from a community connecting service called The Compassionate Frome project which aimed to tackle loneliness across the town found that when people with health problems were supported by volunteers and community groups the numbers of admissions to emergency hospitals fell by 17% across three years saving £2 million, whereas the wider county rate in the same period rose by 29%. Dr Helen Kingston, the GP who pioneered the scheme in Frome reported that for every £1 spent on the project it saved the NHS £6. 

The evidence supports our experience and strongly held belief that community connection and belonging are vital to tackle the issues faced by people with disabilities and mental health difficulties. We believe that forging new community links are the golden threads that will help bring our society back together. 

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