The Recovery Shoebox Project has been setup to help those with mental illness or at risk of self-harming. It has been an evolving project, starting in Harrogate, but now helping people throughout the country.
The project is by Megan Reid, now aged 25-years-old and has had many years of support from the mental health services.
I have had many years of being in and out of support from the mental health services, both at the hospital and within the community.
It reached the point that it felt they didn’t know what to do and that people had given up on me – I didn’t want that.
In 2012 I was really struggling and I began to look at ways that I could help myself.
A doctor gave me a roll of tape and some paper and from that my personal box was born.
A personal box if full of a variety of sensory items that help soothe and create a distraction.
If I got distressed then I could turn to my personal box and I knew that would help me. For me it was like an intervention or distraction so that things didn’t get worse – it really helped.
From this I then started to create boxes for friends, things to fidget with, heat pads, cold things.
But after I had done boxes for all my friends, I thought to myself ‘oh what now?’
Megan started thinking how she could help more people benefit from what she knew benefited her. She also realised that helping others was also therapeutic to her.
The intervention side of having a box is about giving a distraction, to stop dark thoughts developing and reduce the likelihood of a person self-harming.
I thought if I could give people a starter kit then they could take it forward and help themselves.
We have now done over 450 boxes and to people all over the country. It has helped give me a purpose and to fill a gap for many people.
The boxes give a distraction at the times people are finding it difficult to cope and may self-harm. It gives a valuable 5-minute distraction and can stop the self-harm happening as the thoughts lesson.
Megan was in and out of hospital from aged 15 to 22 and wishes she had a personal box as an early intervention.
From my experience, the longer something goes on the more difficult things can get.
Much of the project has been funded by Megan herself, drawing on her own personal savings. She is now looking to expand the project, particularly into local schools.
If you would like to support her work, with a cash donation, items for the boxes or other support then please get in touch through the contact form on the website.