The Stuart Low Trust

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Registered address
Office 7, Claremont,24-27 White Lion Street
N1 9PD

020 7713 9304

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In 1997, Stuart Low, a young Islington man with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, sadly took his own life. He failed to find the support he needed to cope. Stuart’s death prompted local people to form The Stuart Low Trust in 1999. Their aim was to create social therapeutic activities for vulnerable, local people. This was poignant, as Islington is the sixth most deprived borough in the UK and its suicide rate is much higher than the national average.

One in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives. Through social activities, the Trust supports people living with or recovering from mental illness, who are isolated, in despair,  living  in  fear, homeless  or  in  poverty.  The  stigma  around  mental  illness  means  people  feel alone, ashamed and judged. This brings a risk of withdrawal and suicidal ideation. The Trust exists to counter this downward spiral.

Importantly, most of the Trust’s activities take place out–of-hours in the evenings or at weekends, when people are at their lowest ebb and when there are few alternatives. Its Friday Evening Events run 52 weeks a year (including Christmas day and bank holidays). Currently, between 70 and 100 participants attend each week. They are welcomed with free, nutritious refreshments followed by an entertaining performance or interesting presentation on a health, wellbeing or mental health topic. Friday evenings offer respite from social isolation and provide a sense of belonging and community in a non-judgmental space.  Participants can choose to attend every week or just drop in when they wish. In 2015, over 350 participants attended. “I love the sense of community. It’s such a crucial thing to our wellbeing”.

The Trust’s activities offer environments that build confidence and social skills. Most are run by a core group of 30 volunteers, providing over 3,000 hours per annum. “Inclusiveness” and “working together” are core values. We welcome volunteers and attendees regardless of where they live or whether or not they have had a diagnosis of a mental illness. Over 1,000 people receive the bi-monthly events flyer. “Sometimes just getting your activity flyer in the post keeps me alive”.

SLT's Saturday Wellbeing Workshops include arts and expression, relaxation and mindfulness and social skills workshops. The Thursday afternoon Gardening Project offers a sense of calm and wellbeing.  The Tuesday evening Choir tutor puts participants at ease and helps them find their voice. The Sunday Philosophy Forum, led by experienced philosophers, is an opportunity to debate the big questions - who we are and what we want most out of our lives. There are also Narrowboat day trips and regular outings to places of interest in around the capital. “I’m feeling in contact with things I missed out on”.

There is much goodwill for the Trust in the local community, from partner organisations and funders. Recent external accolades include the London Health Commission award for Mental Well-being in 2010, PQASSO accreditation in 2011 and, in July 2015 we received the Queen’s Award for Volunteering. In 2016 we won 1st  prize for Islington in Bloom Best Community Centre Garden. The British Medical Journal chose to make SLT its small charity of the year, from 2014 to 2018.

The Stuart Low Trust has certainly built solid ground since its inception in 1999. It can be proud of its achievements. 

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