Three Streams was set up in Dumfries & Galloway in 2019 to put into practice the conviction that wellbeing and resilience can be supported through creative and contemplative practice – slowing down enough to remember who we are and who we can become.
Since the charity was founded, we have worked with prisoners, artists, social workers, doctors, lawyers, activists, students and retirees, to bring a sense of purpose and connection into our lives at this challenging time in human history.
We have delivered workshops and retreats in Glasgow, Edinburgh, on the Isle of Lismore, in community settings in Dumfries, including HMP Dumfries and more recently online, due to covid-19.
Our work is delivered through in-person workshops and retreats, and one of the key concerns of the charity is making this work available to a broad cross-section of society, not just those who can afford it. Bursary places are funded by donations and by a sliding-scale payment system for participants. In this way, those who can afford to participate in workshops part-fund places for those who can't. Over time, this builds a wonderful community of wellbeing and is a simple and effective way for us to support one another at a practical level.
The arrival of covid-19 meant that we had to cancel our in-person retreats and move some of our workshops online.
"It's been 9 months since we moved online to continue the RESILIENT FUTURES programme and it's had a profound effect on me. I resigned from my job with no future mapped out and some financial pressure. I spent a week in a favourite forest on my own and when I got home I came across the perfect job, applied and got it! I want to thank you for helping me to reconnect with my life's meaning."
The prisons have been open for short windows of time between lockdowns, but our work there has been severely restricted. Pre-covid we offered weekly workshops in FREE THINKING, a forum for prisoners to discuss 'ways of thinking' and 'ways of being', which has been enormously successful (we are grateful to G&H Roberts Community Trust and Foundation Scotland/Baillie Gifford for their generous support in enabling our work in the prison sector):
Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash
“Free Thinking helped me discover philosophy, to question everything, including my own ego and to open my mind to all ideas and opinions. I have been able to discover more about myself than I ever thought possible.”
“I learnt to listen and understand other views.”
“Free Thinking helped me understand that differences of opinion didn’t have to lead to argument or hostility.”
“The best thing about Free Thinking was that I could discuss things without the fear of being judged.”
“I have learnt not to hate society.”
This year we are continuing our work in Scottish prisons with FREE THINKING, but have had to postpone offering in-person retreats, RESILIENT FUTURES,or EMBODIED POETRY workshops until 2022, so that we can be a little more certain about larger group gatherings in the wake of covid-19.
We are currently working to upgrade our website and to create an interactive forum for people to share ideas and practices to support resilience and wellbeing.
Our long-term aim is to establish a physical centre on the Isle of Mull, which people can visit for workshops as well as group & solo retreats. We plan to build at least one hermitage and a light-filled studio space for people to gather and participate in creative and contemplative practices. We are also focussed on supporting the resilience and wellbeing of the land and plan to plant new native woodland and increase biodiversity. Watch this space...
The management of Three Streams has been run on an entirely voluntary (unpaid) basis since its foundation. We are now seeking to raise a Real Living Wage (£9.50/hour) to fund at least one part-time post, so that the charity can broaden its social impact and support the operational management at a baseline level.
As it's becoming increasingly difficult for social enterprises and small charities to stay afloat in the wake of covid-19, we're reaching out with this crowdfunder.
£5,000 would support one person in an administrative and fundraising capacity working 10 hours a week for a year at the Real Living Wage of £9.50/hour.
This would be enough to keep things ticking over and for the charity to not go under.
£10,000 would support one person to work 20 hours a week for a year (or 10 hours a week for 2 years); or two people to work 10 hours a week for a year.
This would be enough to enable the charity to expand and develop its work; to put time into fundraising, community building and workshop delivery.
Anything over and above this would enable us to create posts that supported full-time wages or the charity could employ more people (yippee!).
Might you consider donating something to support a part-time income in 2021 and going forwards? Of course, we'd be grateful for any contribution, but if you were able to make a larger sum available, we'd like to be able to offer a reward in return.
With this in mind, charity founder, Em Strang, is offering her original acrylic artworks (A3), giclée prints (A3) and poetry books as a thank you for larger donations. She's also offering a beautiful, hand-crafted frame of reclaimed pine, made for an A3 mounted picture.
All Em's artwork can be viewed here: Visual Art
There is also an opportunity for a 3-month creative mentorship with Em at the top end of the donation scale. More information on this is available here: Mentorship with Em. Here's what a 2020 mentee said about their experience of working with Em:
"Genuinely revelatory. You are an exceptional mentor."
There's a whole range of additional rewards available from the charity's board of trustees and supporters, including Wayfinder coaching sessions with Rachel Connor; a 10-day audio course on forgiveness from Peacebeam; an ELI coaching session with Daniel Mandel; a day's walk in the wilds of Scotland with storyteller and wilderness guide, Dougie Strang, and much much more. Please browse the rewards section on the right hand side of the screen.
Em has spent the last three decades immersed in creative practice, focussed predominantly on poetry and other forms of writing. She has a PhD in ecological poetry from the University of Glasgow and has been shortlisted and won awards for both her poetry and fiction.
Three Streams came about as a way of bringing together the central passions in Em's life: ecology, creativity & spirituality. All these things have been key in creating a life of sanity and purpose, and her hope is that Three Streams will be equipped to share the tools and practices she has learnt (and continues to learn) on the way. Her dream is to establish a small, rural (eco)centre, so that people from all walks of life can come on solo and group retreats and workshops – to replenish the soul and find new energy for moving forwards.
Em lives in SW Scotland and has spent the last decade working in Scottish prisons, teaching, amongst other things, creative writing. This work has been a major inspiration in setting up Three Streams (see video).
Reward: Ox-Man, Original Shamanic Sculpture, fully framed, £350. If you're interested, please feel free to request further images.
Reward: Treehouse Glamping in Fife.
Thank you so much to everyone who has read this far, and to everyone who is considering giving financial support to Three Streams. Many blessings to all.