This year Feel Good Factor is celebrating our 20 year anniversary and during that time we have worked with an astonishing 36,872 service users.
Since 2003, Feel Good Factor has been providing and developing a range of health and wellbeing activities and initiatives for local residents and across the city, delivering high quality services and activities which address health inequalities for some of the most diverse, vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Leeds.
At a small celebration event at our HQ on Louis Street, the audience heard first from Chair of the Board of Trustees, Tom Booth, who spoke of the sense of community within Feel Good Factor and how the staff, volunteers and trustees support each other, he said “The Board believes in Feel Good Factor and our people”.
Corinna Lawrence, Feel Good Factor CEO, also celebrating 20 years with Feel Good Factor, took us on a trip down Memory Lane with her recollections of the original Steering Group which first met in the lates 1990s, full of ideas to create Feel Good Factor, and the original funding that helped set up this wonderful community resource. She spoke of how, over the years, the organisation has grown, become stronger within itself as a growing charity, and also as an established part of key partnerships in the city.
Thanking everyone involved in the past and the present Corinna said “we learn from everything we do” and this is so clear to see in the wellbeing activities, projects and partnerships that Feel Good Factor delivers the year round.
Hearing from some of the Feel Good Factor service users, who were brave enough to stand up and speak to the assembled group, Balwinder, who has been involved in Feel Good Factor for many years, told of how, after a period of illness and isolation, she linked up with Feel Good Factor. With a combination of home visits and visits to the centre for classes and activities, she now feels her confidence returning and she is ready to become involved in voluntary work herself. Her advice to someone thinking of being involved in Feel Good Factor? “Get the help, spread your wings, and tell everyone.”
Chester spoke of Connect, the Men’s Group which meets weekly, he originally heard of it by word of mouth when he bumped into a friend heading to the Market for a cookery class with Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food and that was just the start of it. Chester said that Connect has “opened the door to many other activities”.
Naseem spoke of her former depression and isolation, she wasn’t coping well with changes in her life and felt stuck in rut. Her GP suggested she should socialise and meet some new people and signposted her to Feel Good Factor. Naseem attended a Confidence Building Course and then another course, and then another and then, eventually, she found herself volunteering with Feel Good Factor, supporting over 50s in groups and becoming a befriender for the socially isolated just like she had been.
She says “it now feels as if I am giving back and doing my bit for the community. Thank you Feel Good Factor for getting me back on track, you have made a big change in my health and wellbeing.”
Mercy found Feel Good Factor after she moved to Leeds from Zimbabwe and had been struggling to settle. Immediately she felt comfortable and told her mother back in Zimbabwe “Mammy, I have found a new family here, I feel at home.” She went on, “Zimbabwe is now my second home. I have all that I need here!”. Through Feel Good Factor’s crafts classes Mercy fell in love with tapestry and became very prolific, “I was doing three for everyone else’s one!”. Using the BID service (for people with sensory impairment) has really helped with her sight loss. She continued “Thank you to the whole staff at Feel Good Factor, they have been there for me in good times and in sad times. Whenever I go home to Zimbabwe I always make sure I have a suitcase just to fill for Feel Good Factor when I return. After all, sharing is caring!”
A piece of artwork on display in Feel Good Factor expresses how service users feel about Feel Good Factor and why it exists, and does what it does. Service users and visitors are invited to add a cut out paper hand print which they can decorate and add some words of what Feel Good Factor means to them and these are stuck onto a large decorated banner in the entrance hall. Statements such as “friends, fun, exercise and moving, meeting up, happy, laughter” and “FGF helps me to get out of the house and socialise with people” and “meet nice people and relax in a nice friendly atmosphere”, “health, physical and mental wellbeing; education, good conversation, peace of mind, swapping experiences” show that Feel Good Factor is doing exactly what it says on the tin!
Find out more about Feel Good Factor by visiting the website www.fgfleeds.org.uk or telephoning 0113 350 4200.