No Ordinary Monday: Mental Fight Club at the Dragon Café
Mental Fight Club (MFC) was founded by Sarah Wheeler in Southwark in 2003, as a creative force for change led by service users. The group has been running pop-up creative events since 2003 to explore issues around mental illness, recovery and wellbeing. These varied events play to packed audiences, using creativity to break down the barriers between the ill and the well, the supporters and the supported. In this way the group hopes to “open everyone’s mind to the wisdom and riches that can be gained in the journey through mental illness into recovery”.
In 2012 Maudsley Charity began funding the Dragon Café project: MFC’s most innovative endeavour to date. Fuelled by a regular volunteer workforce, two-thirds of whom have themselves experienced mental health problems, the Dragon Café is open every Monday in the Crypt of St George the Martyr Church and offers a support structure to the work of MFC, creating a hub which draws together people from a diverse range of backgrounds and mental health experiences.
A programme of creative or wellbeing-related events is delivered every Monday, with different themes each month; from poetry to painting, Tai Chi to boxing, there is a new experience to suit every palate. The café is free and open to all, people can come and go for creative activities with payment only required for the delicious and healthy vegetarian menu.
The Dragon Café prides itself on being a “free, open, creative, welcoming and high quality community space where all can feel at home”.
Providing safety and support
Feedback from visitors show just how much of a difference the Café has made to people, especially those experiencing mental illness and recovery.
‘The Dragon Café is a fantastic place. It gives me a chance to meet like-minded people and make new friends. Very friendly people. May it last forever!’
‘I always leave feeling better than when I arrived. I get to be around lovely and diverse people.’
‘This café tackles something which no book or tablet ever could. I was lonely and isolated before. But since coming to The Dragon Café I feel happy.’
For more information, visit www.dragoncafe.co.uk
Thanks to donations from people like you, we’re able to support community projects like the Dragon Café that give support to people going through mental illness and recovery. Please help us to keep these projects running.