Alan devised and ran the first ever Chrysalis Wellbeing drop in. A space for all trans+ people to meet and socialise in a safe, facilitated space. Before Alan leaves Chrysalis he agreed to share his own experiences and reflections. From myself and the whole Chrysalis team, the volunteers and beneficiaries, I would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Alan for all his hard work and the fantastic legacy he leaves us. I hope you enjoy reading his words.
Andi (CEO of Chrysalis)
“Running and setting up the Wellbeing has been a mixture of amazing and stress (mostly in a good way?). I have had so much fun meeting fellow volunteers and getting to know them and also the new beneficiaries who have come to the Wellbeing.
It all started over a year ago and was designed to be a place for any non cisgendered person to come and meet like minded people in a safe environment. This took a few months to set up and weirdly wasn’t as straight forward as I thought. I had many meetings with Andi who helped me to work through the small details like a time, place, who it is for, and also other volunteers to help.
Andi along with the office team helped me to workout a new process to enrolling new beneficiaries, not an easy task. There was so much to think about, a task which for as one as pretty disorganised as myself, was interesting. After a few short months were opened our doors to… one beneficiary and about 5 volunteers. It was great as it meant more cake for us all.
The months rolled on and we managed to enrol new beneficiaries and run the group with actual people, which was anxiety inducing. I had many meetings with Andi who heard my anxieties and worries with a calm demeanour and advice, but I am sure with increasing thoughts of just give it time and stop stressing as the months passed. As the months passed and Max and I learnt more about each other and bounced off each other pulling on each others strengths to welcome the new beneficiaries making them feel welcomed and getting them to meet new people.
Over time our we had our regulars and this meant that we could instigate our secret weapon: Trans-bingo. Trans-bingo was a big success and has been rolled out across the charity and is a big favourite with our beneficiaries. We also learnt that it is would be and now is a great spring board to and from the Exploration groups.
The success of the first Wellbeing enabled it to be copied and all the mistakes and learning curves Max and I learnt from could be avoided. Portsmouth was opened like our one in Southampton to one beneficiary and 4 volunteers. But luckily they came to our one to pick our brains about it and I know that it will be a roaring success soon. The great thing I have learnt is that the Wellbeing is a weird beast and can adapt to any area or occasion and run well even with someone who has severe anxiety about running it (thank you again Andi and Max).
The Southampton group has exceeded my expectations in the fact that it is a wonderful place to come and meet people and it has uplifted my mood many times. I will be sad to leave the group and move on after such a short and crazy time. I am happy in the knowledge that the hard work, stress (mostly good) and anxiety (also mostly good) has paid off. I know that although I am leaving it is being left in very capable hands of Founding Facilitator Max and Hannah who came in about halfway through and unofficially facilitated the group with us.
I just want to end by saying thank you to Max and Andi for the help and support and to Carole and Dawn in the office who’s patience and help were much needed and accepted during my whole time as a volunteer. Thank you to the beneficiaries. ”
Alan Chrysalis Southampton Wellbeing Drop In founder and volunteer facilitator from Aug 2017 to Jan 2019