Staff remember Healthy Minds Volunteer Sheila Coll
"Thinking of Sheila
Sheila was one of our longest standing volunteers, in fact, one of our very first volunteers. She was involved with almost every aspect of Healthy Minds and truly committed to the organisation, supporting staff, other volunteers and people who used our services over the years.
When I learned that she has died at the end of March, I was deeply saddened and shocked, as we are when someone we have known long and well, is suddenly no longer in the world.
Sheila joined Healthy Minds early 2013. I remember her as being very quiet in that particular group of trainee volunteers. She was softly spoken and thoughtful. As part of the training, we asked volunteers to work in small groups to do a short workshop activity to initiate discussion, usually around a theme of mental health stigma or recovery. Everyone was very nervous, and I know that everyone came up with great ideas (because they always do) to get people talking.
But what I remember most clearly, is a beautiful performance piece by Sheila. She wore a simple blank mask over her face, while another member of a group read a spoken word piece. I can't remember the words, but I remember the poignancy and grace of Sheila's movements so perfectly expressing a journey from despair to hope. The room was silent and we were all spellbound for those few moments. I feel very grateful to have seen that performance, and it will stay with me. Partly because of its beauty, but also because it expressed such a gentleness and power, which I feel was so much Sheila.
She was passionate about speaking out about mental health and supporting others to express themselves; to speak of their pain and joy. She facilitated art groups, peer support groups, and anti-stigma workshops in schools, she helped to organise events including an art auctions and poetry readings, she helped in Safespace (out of hours service). She contributed to many discussions and meetings about how services might develop, she was a trustee for a while and she was also a friend and colleague to all of us at Healthy Minds.
When I let the staff team know of Sheila's death, I had so many responses. Everyone spoke of her gentleness, her kindness and compassion, how she was caring, creative and so very lovely. A truly beautiful soul.
In the last few years Sheila brought all of her talents and special qualities to her work at Archway, facilitating the art group there, and supporting people by helping them to express themselves.
I know creativity was her great passion. She understood and believed in the true value of art, in its power to tell stories, to bring us together, to express our pain, to heal and inspire. And she knew that from her personal experience. She was an artist and a poet, and we will miss her."
- Dianne Darby
"I worked with Sheila as a volunteer in Safespace for over a year.
Sheila was a warm, gentle, and a very creative woman. She was skilled at supporting people on the phone and warmly welcomed everybody who visited.
When we co-supported Safespace visitors; her non-judgemental acceptance and quiet support helped to calm everyone who came through the door.
Creativity was, of course, fundamental to who Sheila was and she took on the role of ensuring that Safespace was always stocked up with art materials. She got to know the needs of anyone for whom this was beneficial and would just appear with different options for them to try.
Sheila brought such warmth and care to Safespace from the very start. She will be greatly missed."
- Christine Spice
"Safespace with Sheila was a scream! Always learning from each other.
Role Play - At quiet times I'd hide in the Art room and call her with random 'issues' to talk through with her.... she never laughed until the call had ended and my 'sadness' was more manageable."
- Tracy Drake
"Sheila was one of the first volunteers I ever met at Healthy Minds and made me feel so welcome andincluded.
From the start I knew she was a diamond - fun, mischievous, dedicated, passionate, arty, empathic and completely lovely! She had such a gentle spirit that drew people to her and I loved our regular meet-ups over coffee - which would usually end in trading creative ideas to make our fortunes!
Sheila was, and always will be, one of our most treasured and loved volunteers and friend - her cheeky smile will be always be remembered and very much missed."
- Cath McNally