London creatives and musicians band together to bring some comfort to those in psychiatric wards

A new charitable initiative led by musicians and creatives in London looks to support adults seeking mental health treatment through their new ‘Comfort Project’.

Starting in South West London, but with the aim to expand and help as many people as possible in the future, the project looks to supply ‘Comfort Boxes’ to every psychiatric ward in the area. Their project kicks off with donations drop-off locations open this week as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, running from the 8-14 May, with a special fundraising event on Friday 12 May as well.

Their boxes contain little essentials that we may take for granted, but can make life so much more comfortable for someone in hospital. They will include clothes, clean underwear, toiletries like deodorant, shower gel, hand wipes, as well as some personal items of comfort like small toys or blankets. Tangles - small therapy toys - have been found to make a huge difference to people as well.

The team hope to provide three boxes per ward: one for men’s clothes, one for women’s clothes, and a separate one for toiletries and any extra little bits. The aim of the project is to provide those seeking mental health support the means to feel comfortable in hospital, and help with their rehabilitation and preparation for leaving hospital. Particularly as so many people may not have friends or family nearby to help them with these bare essentials, this initiative can make the world of difference to a person in their time of need.

The founder of the project, Emmeline, spoke to us about where the idea stemmed from. “Being in hospital is scary enough, and at times can feel undignified. Especially when you have nothing but hospital pjs and a small sachet of soap. Just having regular clothes to wear and a nice shower can make you feel a little more human and less like a ‘patient’.”

The project means so much to Emmeline in particular, because she’s been admitted to acute mental wards herself. “I started the project when I noticed an influx of patients with one set of clothes and very little personal items, so I asked my mum to bring in some clothes she was getting rid of. The other patients were so grateful, I bought a big plastic box filled with items, and that one is still there in use.”

In order to collect donations towards this great cause, the people behind the ‘Comfort Project’ will be hosting donations drives across South West London as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. The Comfort Project has partnered with Artisan Coffee, with the drop-off points being at their four cafes in West London. You can find locations to drop-off any much-appreciated donations by visiting the ‘how to help’ page on the project’s website. These locations are open all of this week, so feel free to pop by.

Emmeline shared her idea for the Comfort Project with a group of friends, including two musicians, which led them to the idea of creating an event fusing music, poetry and charitable donations together. The team’s first fundraising event will take place at the Library/Broadway House on Friday 12 May, and is another opportunity to make any donations, both of money and actual items. The fundraiser will run from 7pm until 10pm, asking people to make a donation of whatever they feel comfortable with on the door, with an evening of music, poetry, and a few comedy acts thrown in. They’ll have a BBQ dinner, a raffle, and a DJ arriving at 10pm for those who want to continue the party.

Just having regular clothes to wear and a nice shower can make you feel a little more human and less like a ‘patient’ - Emmeline

Confirmed acts include English singer-songwriter Russell Swallow, Steve O’Neil who plays the Irish mandolin, American blues singer Laine Hines, Austrian singer-songwriter Joe Traxler and Australian jazz soul singer Lauren Lucille.

Friend of happiful and supporter of the Comfort Project, Emily Lee, quoted her friend in saying, “Honesty and authenticity are the driving forces of the world going forwards”, and that’s what they hope to achieve through their project supporting those receiving treatment for their mental health.

The team are excited to plan more donation drives and fundraising events in the future. You can visit the Comfort Project’s Facebook event for full details on how you can attend and support them, and their website has details on items you can donate. The Comfort Project also has a Go Fund Me page if you'd like to donate some money directly to their cause, so they can buy items to go in their wonderful boxes.