Mosaic Clubhouse aims to bring people with mental health issues out of isolation. The clubhouse approach to recovery emphasises community and coproduction; it is deliberately understaffed so its members are encouraged to take part in the day-to-day running of the centre, enabling them to meet new people and build their confidence.
Through numerous visits, Ivin has created a series of collaborative collage portraits exploring members’ identities. Each person decorates their own portrait using images they feel best represent themselves, giving us an insight into their lives and time at Mosaic.
Sam Ivin is a photographic artist who explores social issues and the people connected with them through collaborative projects. By documenting their stories and perspectives he hopes to provide a more personal, tangible understanding of them.
When I come here someone’s always says hello and greets me with a smile and asks me how I’m doing, even if I don’t know their name. It’s just nice to have those friendly faces around and you can relate to a lot of people, because we’ve all gone through mental health issues. You have that bond where people can just relate to what you’re saying and what you’ve gone through, so there’s empathy there as well. I know that when I wake up in the morning I have something to do for that day, so it keeps me going.
There’s a lot of activities and opportunities I’ve got involved with other members and it’s bought us closer together. For example I’m doing a podcast with another member and we’ve spent a lot of time working together so I think we have become friends through that. The podcast is Mosaic Music Magic or MMM for short *laughs*. We talk about music, review albums, and about music’s relationship to mental health.
It is clear the mind is a powerful thing. Experts say a large percentage of the brain remains dormant. Social design permits people to think in acceptable ways. The normal etiquettes in different environments, sometimes can be a jigsaw puzzle, the troubled mind constantly questioning ”Did I say or do the right thing?”. With filters imposed by friends, family, distant relations, colleagues, peer groups, and business partners, business associates, business acquaintances, customers, the general public and strangers.
The bordered line of the silhouette in this photo collage, contains a song. The song is inspired by the thaumatrope*, with a classic two image motif of a bird and a cage, when animated is seen as a bird in cage. You can go to my music label Musalman, or search Diamonds and Dowry to listen to the song. This image is inspire by the phrase “a bird in a cage”, as I have the advantage of being dyslexic, meaning is the bird in a cage or is the bird outside of the cage?
Mosaic permits me to be free in my thinking as a London based artist, allowing me to unfold and unpack my thoughts and shoot off in multiple directions, in a contained and controlled way.
* an optical toy that was popular in the 19th century. A disk with a picture on each side is attached to two pieces of string.
“Other members have bought me out of myself. I find I’m interacting with people more and I have been growing in confidence.”
“I started getting interested in the kitchen unit. I was relying on a food bank at the time so I would either eat junk food or cook and freeze, then use that for a couple of weeks. When I ran out of food I would force myself to go out and get some food.
I wanted to work in the kitchen at Mosaic Clubhouse to learn how to cook again and I wanted to learn how to have a relationship with food. That started by cleaning in the kitchen, dusting, washing up dishes. It was something practical that took me out of my thinking, out of my worries, out of my depression, my sadness and the heaviness. Bit by bit I started chopping and dicing things to be cooked and then I started helping out with cooking. I also began to use the till and started serving in the cafe.
“To cut a long story short I ended up going to college and did some courses. In between I relapsed though and ended up in hospital multiple times over the years, I think it was mainly loneliness. When I was doing a course in Spanish one member at Mosaic told me about a group that practiced Spanish and English. That was a nice way to change my life and my social life. It was a big, massive group and I made friends.I started being outgoing and going to parties and socials, being the soul of the parties and all that.
Another thing I want to mention is the sanctuary has played a very big part in my life (an out of hours 6pm-2am service at Mosaic) It has helped me not to relapse or to cut myself before I relapse. In the past when I’m feeling that I’m about to relapse I would end up in hospital and I would spend 2 weeks to 2 months in a hospital until I am well enough to be discharged. All the times I’ve changed medication and relapsed I’ve had the sanctuary to fall back to. I go to Mosaic in the middle of the evening and spend most of the night there and then go home, and sleep. [It helps] knowing that I’ve talked through things and that I have engaged with people.
I feel like I’ve left Mosaic, my life has spread out. My life is not revolving around Mosaic as it used to be. I do things outside the clubhouse, I dance, I dance regularly. I do a Brazilian dance which I usually do six to five days a week.
I think Mosaic Clubhouse is a wonderful place, it’s a good place to fall back on, but it’s also good, once you’re strong enough, to stride out. I think it’s good the clubhouse encourages that, and is connected to other services and communities in different ways.
Thank you Sam for giving me this opportunity to explore myself and give my story through photos.
Were you nervous when you first arrived?
When I first arrived I wouldn’t say I was nervous, slightly apprehensive at first because I didn’t know anyone here. But that didn’t last very long because I found there were a lot of people here who are very welcoming so it was never like in high school where people have got their cliques. We don’t really have that so much here. Obviously people have groups, people they talk to each other more than others maybe that’s because that’s who they relate to for whatever different reasons.
Why did you start to attend Mosaic? What do you gain from it?
Social isolation, depression, y’know, no sense of purpose. When I come here even if it might just be like small stuff like helping in the kitchen or cleaning or whatever, it’s doing something useful which gives a bit more sense of meaning. [It’s helpful] when I feel I have no self esteem and I feel like I’m useless.
What’s your hope for the future?
I want to continue working on my independent travel agency. Be successful with that. Y’know do voluntary work, y’know I don’t know what specifically. I like helping people. Especially people with mental health issues, so something to do with that would be good.
Mosaic has really helped me to find my inner self again, with all the problems I’m dealing with at the present moment. Mosaic finds beautiful quotes that start my day off really well. Here’s one quote that’s really important to me, “Imagine all your thoughts and actions were displayed for others to see, how would you feel?”
That makes me realise in myself that I have to live a clean life, a clean life with others. The quotes are really beautiful and they’re really natural and they make me think about myself.
I find everyone here is the same as me, we’ve all got problems and we’re all the same just sometimes people have problems that are more physical, more noticeable. Some people like myself look quite attractive and quite pretty but my problems are deep within me, beneath my clothing and my looks.
Without this place I wouldn’t have anywhere to go and I’ve had mental problems right from the age of 12 and I’ve never had anywhere to go, I’ve only just found this place in the last 4 years. If I’d of known about this years ago then I maybe would have been more of a positive person towards my own well-being.
I felt like a nobody then and now
No one notice’s me
I continue suffering
Think my bed will comfort me
I am frightened of my thoughts, dream and memory vision
I am alone, days have no meaning
My children make me feel existence as their mother
Despite my life I complain in the bitterness of my soul
Ask why they made me their target
“Mosaic stops me from being isolated. It helps me to identify with others with mental health issues. Before I didn’t have any support, I was getting into a lot of difficulties. It’s helped me by providing assistance for some of my issues.”
”At first I wasn’t quite sure about fitting in because everybody would be in like little groups of people. I used to work in security, and most of my colleagues were in little groups and I didn’t really fit into this, I couldn’t really find any friends there, so I was not sure if I would fit in at first.”
“When I first came Danny and Matthew were there, they were making jokes and things. I asked if they were interested in going out at the weekend, because we didn’t have a weekend programme at this time, and this is how we became friends.”
“I like it very much, every day is not the same for me, it’s given me structure to my day and now I get up and I know where to go. I can do meaningful work here, that is important to me.”
“Mosaic is very friendly, most of the time. I think the atmosphere here is very welcoming. That’s also why I think it’s very nice. Instead of sitting on my bed in my hostel, and thinking, “What can I do now?”, I can come to Mosaic, jump on four buses and I’m here.”
Why did you start going to Mosaic?
I spent about a year at home just doing a bit of my hobbies listening to music, going to the cinema, doing a bit of reading and watching TV and I thought to myself I wanted to do a bit more with my time, so I thought I’d get back into volunteering because I used to volunteer as a receptionist in Lewisham.
I was quite excited [about going to Mosaic], I wasn’t too sure on my way there but I wanted a new change. When I got here I caught a happy vibe about the place. Reception was very welcoming and I sat in the cafe afterwards and the environment was quite nice. I felt at home in the place.
I come in at 8:30 in the morning and I go on reception, answering the phones and directing calls to the appropriate person. I stay on reception until about 11’O clock, then I go to the canteen, have a biscuit and a cup of tea. After that 20 minute break I’ll go to the information hub and do some data inputting, working on monitoring forms.
So that’s what I do. And sometimes I go to the unit meeting and help out by keeping score during the quizzes or help lead the unit meeting. Then I’ll go back into the info hub do some more data inputting and sometimes I might do some outreach phone calls (to members who haven’t attended the clubhouse for some time). Remind them that the clubhouse still exists and ask them if they need any support.
I’ve just finished doing a TEP (Transitional Employment Placement) I was working for 9 months at public health England. I was doing administration, things like booking rooms for staff members. It’s the first time I’ve worked in 14 years, so I was quite pleased. I did my best and I did enjoy it so I left with my head held high, and happy with my performance. I’m hoping to look for some more work now in the future.
It was very hard, in fact the first couple of months my first 3 months when I was there when I was coming in when I thought to myself they’re goanna sack me today. Y’know it was that intense and that challenging for me but Simon (my support worker) would go through the day with me and I’d say “Oh I’m struggling.” he would just pick me up and encourage me to carry on.
I’d go home and have a takeaway and I’d think, refocus and I’d come back just saying to myself “Just keeping doing your best, just keep doing your best.”. After about 3 months things got a lot easier. All of a sudden I started to learn, I sort of knew what I was doing, the puzzle started to fit into place and I was getting to know how to do my job.
Mosaic’s been great for me in the last two years and three months. If it wasn’t for Mosaic I’d probably be at home just watching TV for sooo long in the week and it would be a bit boring. So coming to Mosaic 2/3 days a week fills a big gap for me, it gives me confidence, I learn new skills, it makes me socialise with people. The people here with mental health issues are just like myself so I feel like everyone’s in the same boat, the staff are supportive, they understand, it’s good to have that sort of structure here in Mosaic. I wanna continue coming here as long as I can.
When my husband died I took it really hard. I became deeply depressed. Then my GP advised me to come to Mosaic Clubhouse and that’s when I started to begin my recovery journey. It gave me a routine and purpose, I really enjoyed coming here plus glad to meet new people. Also, when we were at Atkins Road (the previous clubhouse building) we had this most wonderful garden and lots of things were grown there.” I worked in all the units. Then I became more involved in education and employment which I enjoyed.
When my husband died I also retired, which made it very very difficult because there were too many changes. It was overwhelming, but slowly and gradually I got very involved and I did lots of things at Mosaic Clubhouse. Luckily for me I went to all these clubhouse conferences so I had an opportunity to speak to a large audience. (I went to the international conference in America, then I went to Austria for the European conference, afterwards I went to two more). Like I said it was amazing and I really enjoyed it. Lately I’ve been involved doing other things outside of the clubhouse, such as art history, painting, writing, and I love for some reason, knitting.
For me it was a safe place to come, and I met very supportive people. I remember on my first day meeting Martin, who asked me to help with the daily newsletter. They had a daily programme of what’s going on.
Immediately I had support, all I can say is that I felt happy coming, I was enthusiastic about a lot of the activities. I’ve made friends since I started coming and we see each other outside of the clubhouse which is good. We support each other, so if one of us is ill the other one will ring up and find out what’s wrong. That makes such a difference. I’m feeling good and I feel I’ve recovered very well but every now and then when things overwhelm me I begin again. Last year it had to do with my falling (running to the bus would you believe). When I fell I got two blood clots, one in each leg. So it took a while to recover from that. It made me feel anxious and I realised how fragile life can be.
I think for the first month I had to force myself to come to Mosaic then after that I just started to make friends. The people here were hilarious, like they were really fun and it was really nice to just leave the house and come here.
I’d say mental health is very subjective, very subjective. Since coming here, I’ve learnt more about it. It depends on how you see it because some people think it’s an embarrassment, some people think it’s fine, some people think that it’s all made up. I think that people should be accepting of it, we are all human. Everyone has flaws, people are not perfect.