I didn’t think much of the phone call.
It was Friday morning. I was enjoying an early lunch partner after a fun night out in Glasgow the night before, when my phone rang. It was someone from the Work Connect programme saying not to come in next Tuesday. It was a bit of a bummer, as that is when our photography group takes place, but these things happen. There was probably some staff training or something, and I carried on with my day.
Only when faffing about on Facebook later that evening did I realise what had happened.
Overnight the current venue for the Work Connect programme, the Havoc Pavilion, had burned down.
I’ve part of Work Connect for just under a year. The programme helps marginalised people, such as those with disabilities and mental health problems, find meaningful activity and structured learning. In some cases participants can access training and employment. For me it has been a lifeline as I struggle to recover from workplace bullying, ongoing trauma, a personality disorder, and manage a chronic disability. I have a place where I don’t have to mask the bullshit to please society, and where I am encouraged to make the most of my strengths. My biggest success there has been helping to facilitate a photography group following on from a 10-week long workshop. I’m also taking part in the Write to Recovery group, and I’ve started helping with the newsletter.
The Havoc Pavilion really was a second home for me.
To hear that it had gone up in smoke, along with the work and projects of all the service users, was heartbreaking. I had to go down and see for myself. As I walked around the building I could see where the guys had worked on the park benches and fixed up the bikes, where plans were made for gardening projects, where wreaths were made for Christmas, and where photos were framed for an art exhibition. I think I am more devastated for everyone else than I am for me. Things were lost, but nobody was hurt.
I guess I’m hurting because my time in the programme is almost up, so most of my memories were tied up in the Pavilion. It’s sad to see a place where I flourished so badly destroyed.