Chesterfield’s Thinkfest ’24: “The songs that saved your life”

Lots of talking and listening and music that meant something

From: Chloe Jackson

On Saturday 25th May 2024, Jo, Hadley, and I headed to Chesterfield for our second experience of ThinkFest, having had such a successful time last year. We were blessed with the weather; arriving on Vicar Lane high street to the sun shining down beautifully on every stall being set up by dedicated volunteers.

Initially feeling a little apprehensive having our stall on the very end of the high street, compared to last year where we were immersed in the action just opposite the stage, Ellie (the organiser) reassured us that we should think of ourselves as ‘the face’ of the festival, which reminded us of why we were there.

Jo had set the table up skilfully, showcasing the wonderful work we do here at WTF, but the gazebo still needed to be assembled. Following a minor mishap with one of the legs (it definitely wasn’t hidden inside itself) the gazebo was up, standing loud and proud with our motto- Why Talking Fixes.

10am soon came around, and the high street gradually started filling. Our first conversation arrived almost immediately, proving Ellie’s point that we were the face of the festival! A local councillor shared their story with mental health and raised an important point about the literature we read needing to be from the voice of first-hand experience, as well as the scientists and academics. This conversation set the tone for the day, and we felt inspired to bring as many people as we could to our stall; starting conversations that mattered and showing people that humanity was designed to talk and share their experiences in the hope of making them feel a little lighter.

In keeping with the musical theme of the festival this year, the wellbeing tree had a slight makeover with the goal being to cover it in CDs displaying songs that ‘moved us’- physically or emotionally. Throughout the day, music brought people together time and time again, sharing nostalgic memories of times gone by, people gone but not forgotten. The chalk pens and old CDs were a hit, people recognising the impact of music on our memories, wellbeing and worldview. The songs will all be collated into a playlist on spotify very soon, and we will share the link on social media- so stay tuned!

From Prince to Taylor Swift, Keane to David Guetta, the eclectic range of songs that adorned the wellbeing tree was a sight to behold. Sun beams diffracting off the CDs, a shape shifting rainbow of light waves, we were reminded of the boundless beauty that music carries for so many.

Around lunchtime, we were joined by a wonderful member of the team from Bird & Blend Tea Co., who have incredibly chosen us as their ‘Charitea’ of the year, with 50% of the profit from every sale in store of their Nottingham inspired blend ‘Candyfloss at the Fair.’ Eva, the Nottingham store manager, came with the same energy and passion as every other WTF volunteer, dedicating some of her volunteering hours to share in the conversations and promote the sale of the sweet and fruity yet smoky tea. No stranger to sampling on a busy high street, Eva had prepared a delicious cold brew of the tea made with a lemonade base- a hit with a myriad of passerbys. The tea drew people in, the conversations kept them engaged, and the CDs reminded them to take time for themselves and recognise what stirs their spirit, moves their soul, and to make space for more of this!

3pm came around all too quickly, and the final conversation had with a fellow parent bereaved by suicide drew to a close, serving as a compelling reminder of why we continue to interact with individuals in the local community: suicide is still real, it is still happening, and we must continue our work in the hope that one day, these conversations won’t be so prevalent.

A huge thank you to everyone who stopped by our stall at ThinkFest, we are so grateful to hear your voice and share your space. Thank you to Ellie and her incredible team of organisers for putting on yet another wonderful event, full of spirit and compassion. Finally, thank you to Jo for continuing to provide us with the opportunity to attend such events and speak so openly about a subject so raw but so very important.  Together, we can make a difference.

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