Supporting Artist Mental Wellbeing (Samwell) was set up as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in March 2021 by Helen Jeffery and Andy Thomas to ensure any profits made by the company are reinvested back into the membership community.
To become the No 1 membership community for performers who want to maintain a healthy mind.
As a performer and writer, Helen is acutely aware of the pressures the industry can have on a person’s mental health. In 2020, during the pandemic, Helen set up a Facebook Group where female -identifying performers could come together, share experiences and offer each other support whilst navigating the isolating effects of Covid-19. As this community began to grow, it became clear that there were very few services available that focused on supporting the mental wellbeing of performers, particularly ones focused on early intervention. Helen commissioned a survey to identify what support the community needed. The findings included:
- Relevant support that reflected what it is really like working in the industry across the different disciplines
- More accessible peer support opportunities
- Guidance and learning opportunities from a wider range of experts that focus on topics that impact and influence a performer’s state of mind.
Helen discussed her ideas and findings with Andy Thomas, a consultant with specialist knowledge of software design and business start-ups. With a keen interest in mental health, particularly preventative approaches, Andy supported Helen in planning and designing what has now become Samwell. The decision was made early to create a Community Interest Company as this way the business must ensure profits are reinvested back into the community. In addition, the focus would be on recruiting Community Managers with lived experience and commissioning work from within the community.
THE TEAM (SO FAR)
WHAT WE OFFER OUR MEMBERS
- Community – we believe that being part of a group who understands the challenges that being a performer can bring will reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Choice – there is no pressure to network, join forums, identify yourself or join peer groups. We want this to be a platform that is relevant and tailored to your needs as an individual.
- Peer Support – we believe in the power of the collective and that accessing support from others who have similar lived experiences can help us to feel stronger when times are tough. This includes spaces to offer and seek support and guidance, and events where members can share ideas and meet like-minded people with a shared understanding of common difficulties associated with being a performer
- Opportunities to learn and grow – we seek to create and provide targeted, relevant and top quality educational content such as articles, online courses, expert guidance, advice from fellow professionals, events and podcasts aimed to alleviate some of the common causes of poor mental wellbeing among performers.
The following values underpin everything we do.
- Peer-led – We will ensure Samwell is always run by people with lived experience of working within the industry
- Inclusive – We will work hard to ensure all performers have a safe platform to share experiences, learn from one another and feel supported
- Participatory – We will work alongside our members to fully understand what support is needed and how best to deliver that support
- Collaborative – We will always be open to opportunities to partner and collaborate with relevant experts and providers in order to maintain a quality product and service for our members.
- Social Entrepreneurial – Creating a sustainable business model is vital and we will alway seek opportunities to generate income in order to invest in our community without compromising our values or benefiting the few.