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Community artists are often on hand to help out with these creations but the workshop operates on an optional basis rather than being run as a classroom.

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Some have even received orders for their work from family and friends.

Mr Bell, who goes to Cathja five days a week, says that this approach is what makes the scheme feel so special. "It is 100 miles away from being in the clinical system," he believes.

Mr Bell, a 53 year old former welder from Adidas Neo 3

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and tolerant atmosphere here. Everyone is always really friendly to each other."

furniture or create artworks in their own time and to their own designs.

"It takes a short time to traumatise someone but an awfully long time to get enough trust back in yourself and the world to let that trauma dissipate.

and enduring mental health problems.

'Cathja project helped save my life' From Richmond and Twickenham Times

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"The buzz you get out of making something is quite powerful if your idea of who you are has been knocked into touch by a breakdown."

Wendy Mackenzie, 38, one of Cathja's artists in residence, only joined the project two months ago but says she has already been made to feel welcome. "I was really struck by the amazingly relaxed

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they like with some staying just a few years while others have attended for over aThe project itself has been running for 15 years and last year it received an award from GlaxoSmithKline for excellence in community health.

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This artistic freedom is seen as essential to the project which aims to give people back their independence after many of them have spent some time on the psychiatric ward at the West Middlesex hospital before being discharged.

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Based on the Thames between the London Apprentice and the Town Wharf pubs, the independent charity offers members a warm welcome and a fully fitted workshop where they have the chance to build

Sitting on a large barge in Isleworth, Keith Bell sips from a cup of tea and explains how the Cathja project helped him turn his life around.

"There is precious little to do because getting a job is pretty difficult and, even if you Adidas Originals Sneakers Women were up for it, people don't tend to offer work to people with a mental health history.

is a day provision to enable people to recover and to gain confidence.

"We have got a really good working relationship with the statutory services. But because this place needs to feel more like a workshop and less like a hospital, we maintain a distance."

Carl Kirby Turner, head of the Friends of Cathja who works on the barge every day, explains: "It's about giving back control.

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Chiswick, is one of 25 Hounslow residents who have chosen to spend time on the Cathja barge as part of their recovery process after suffering from serious

Many members are skilled in welding, woodwork or upholstering meaning that they often work together to produce high quality pieces such as wardrobes, sculptures and even canoes.

It was rechristened the Cathja project after it moved to the Cathja barge seven years ago (the barge's original name was Hooka but organisers felt that people would be less happy to get involved

"Mental health problems take a really long time to overcome," he says.

In this friendly environment, members are free to do as much or as little as they like in their own time, with some choosing to sit and chat over a cuppa rather than undertaking projects.

in the Hooka project).

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"The project saved my life because I am a fully skilled man," he says. "I had started to feel useless. I can come down here and feel useful again."

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Over another cuppa, Mr Kirby Turner explains how many people leaving hospital after breakdowns find it difficult to get on with their lives as many of them feel stigmatised by the experience.

"When you are in a psychiatric ward, you have pretty much lost control of your surroundings and the medical staff are in control. But then to move from that state back to normality, you have got

to take control of your own decisions.

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Cathja's members, who range in ages from their 20s to 60s, can stay on as part of the project for as long as Adidas Originals White Blue

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