Miscellaneous, Thoughts & Experience, Tips & Advice

#KnowYourCommunity: Keep Real

KnowYourCommunity is an ECBC campaign that hopes to raise awareness of groups/charities/organisations/people that help those living with a mental illness and empowering others. This month we spoke to Kimmy from Keep Real all about the organisation and what they do to help people with their mental health.

Hello! My name is Kimberley Robinson and I am the founder of Keep Real. Keep Real is a social enterprise (a business for social good) supporting better mental health in the community.

Images taken from Keep Real Instagram

This is done through creative mental health workshops and events, our lovely podcast and live music shows with musicians and artists. Although we are very much missing our live shows at the moment!

I had the idea of ‘Keep Real’ while I was doing my degree in Counselling, as I wanted to become an Art Therapist at the time. Utilising art and music really supported my own mental health (making my own t-shirts and tote bags kept me busy!). However, I also found the mental health system extremely frustrating in its accessibility. I had tried to access mental health support myself due to struggling severely with anxiety, facing the all too common experiences of long waiting lists and medication. At the time, and still today in a way, they feel like the only options available to us. I wanted to change that; bringing interventions into the community that were creative and more accessible. 

Images taken from Keep Real Instagram

Where did the inspiration for the name come from?

The ‘KR’ are my initials, so it is quite a personal name for me! I love old school traditional sayings like ’stay true’ and ‘keeping it real’, which I felt captured the aim of what I was trying to do. Quite literally creating a community of folk who stay true to who they are and what they need when it comes to their mental wellbeing.

What does Keep Real do to help people with their mental health?

Drawing on a lot of my experiences and techniques I gathered over the course of my degree, I run a lot of workshops that bring together elements of art therapy. I predominantly do a lot of workshops in higher education settings. Being a university student (although 5 years ago now!) meant that I could relate to certain struggles they face, however I will say that the new students coming in through the pandemic will be changed.

Running Keep Real keeps me on my toes to check in with myself more often, especially when running workshops. You have to practice what you preach, which is difficult when you’re in a headspace of feeling down and out. It’s also alleviated the anxiety I feel too. If someone told me I’d be standing in front of 250 people at a live show I had organised…I’d slap my thigh and laugh. Music and art, the fundamental elements of Keep Real – heals people and it heals me too. 

Whats the best advice you have been given to help with your mental health?

I think a life lesson from my mum to ‘always trust your gut’. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Also, I love the saying ‘Give what is best of you, not what is left of you’ – this one hits home pretty hard!

Images taken from Keep Real Instagram

What is Keep Real up to at the moment?

Keep Real during the pandemic has been on the down-low to recharge. I’ve definitely had to recharge/rethink what folk need right now as a lot of the work I do was very much face to face and group sessions. I’m still running workshops privately for businesses (which is super important at the moment!) but it’s alive and kicking hopefully in January with more support and resources to look out for. Not just the eco-friendly merch, but real resourced and tools to support others.

You can find out more about Keep Real via our website and on all social media platforms at @KeepRealUK and my personal one is @kimmykeepreal!

Many thanks to Kimmy for being involved in our campaign and for continuing to do amazing work with Keep Real. Kimmy has been a massive inspiration for me these past few years and I am honoured shes got involved. Emma x

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