Designs in Mind
is 25 years old
Designs in Mind began in day care services within the NHS as The Project Group. While under the umbrella of the NHS we started to earn some money and soon the limits of working within the public sector became obvious and insurmountable. It became clear that in order to grow we had to break free and become independent.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Having such a big organization as a backbone has lots of advantages. But we had to leave this safety net in order to flourish and move on”
We started to get commissioned by external organisations, which was unusual at that time. One of our first was to create a mosaic floor scape in the new build unit at Shelton Hospital in Shrewsbury.
"We were commissioned by Common Ground to celebrate our community in the Parish Map Project. We designed and made six panels which involved ceramics, tapestry, silk painting & weaving. We involved local primary school children which was groundbreaking at the time because of the stigma attached to mental health"
We became independent of the health service and moved in to a community building with an arts focus- Qube. We had a permanent studio space there and achieved 3 years funding from MIND. Everything started to change.
Here we started to think about retail alongside commissions, and selling work through local shops. We began to work with Craftspace, who partnered us with renowned artists and designers.
Nothing is not a book
We achieved arts council to fill the Gallery at Qube with original works. We worked with many other groups and artists to challenge our members to think as artists and produced work that broke down barriers.
Our attention started to switch at this time to grow as a business.
A new member of staff arrived, started as a volunteer and fundraised for her job to develop and grow the business. We registered as a limited company without having a share capital and we became an employer which was massive for us at that time, and a big leap.
We moved to 17a Cross Street, Oswestry.
We fundraised for over £200,000 to transform two floors of what was once men's outfitters. Our studio started to take shape.
At this time we also started our funding relationship with Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group
Our reputation started to spread nationwide with commissions in London, Merseyside & Cheshire.
We began the annual Christmas Sale and this has grown over the years bringing in £5000 a year to our budget.
We gained European Funding for a series of masterclasses with specialists in craft techniques.
Andrew Tanner- Ceramics
Stella Corrall- Plastics
Adam Paxon- Jewellery
We started a four year long series of commissions for Shropshire Council under the Private Finance Initiative creating six pieces of work for six social care and health centres across Shropshire. In each case the users of the building were involved in the making and designing.
Helena Lane- Textile Piece Abbots Wood- Silk Paintings
Four Rivers- Wooden Sculpture Louise House- Paper Cut Collage and wooden bench
The Lantern- Machine Embroidery Raven House- Glass and Felt wall panels
In 2011 we were the only group in Shropshire to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to a volunteer group across the UK, for our work providing a locally run service for local people that is supported, recognised and respected by the local community and by the people who benefit from it.
Our retail journey took another leap working with desiner Ella Doran to create the 'Elements' collection. A collection of products inspired by earth, water, fire and stones.
This collection was our first designed by members and manufactured elsewhere.
At this time we registered as a Community Interest Company.
We changed our company name from The Project Group to Designs in Mind.
We launched our retail brand JOLT
We started a new funding relationship with The Steve Morgan Foundation
The challenge is getting greater, mental health services are struggling to cope with demand, we are seeing an increase in referrals and the needs of members is more complex.
Everyone knows someone experiencing a mental health problem, 1 in 3 GP appointments relates to mental health. Lives are at risk because people can’t get the support when they need it. For many the stigma of mental health is greater than the burden itself and the minefield of changes to benefits and the threat of sanctions freezes aspiration and increases feelings of powerlessness.
'After my diagnosis people stopped listening to me, stopped challenging me'
Designs in Mind is changing. You can download a summary of our plans for the future here- 10 Changes at Designs in Mind
You can see all the partners Designs in Mind are currently working with by clicking here
Why has Designs in Mind been so important to you?