Clare Hales standing by a table, smiling

Clare Hales

Clare Hales has been nominated by Nickala Torkington of Flourish Together CIC. Clare says “After working as a Special Needs Teacher, I trained as a mindfulness practitioner for young people because so many seemed to need to find ways to manage stress, worries, and anxieties.

From that, I founded Studio Serenity CIC which seeks for every child to grow into happy, resilient adults. I specialise in supporting children and young people with autism and their families as well as all young people with anxiety.

I also founded Wigan Workshop CIC. This base in Wigan has two studios and one workshop doing a vast number of activities and tiered support for health and well-being, creating a much-needed new community hub which is led by the community and supporting the next generation of families in new ways.”

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Who have you helped/who will you help?

“I have worked with over 800 young people in the borough who have anxieties or are going through life transitions such as starting High School or taking exams through on mindfulness and wellbeing courses to support their mental health and wellbeing. From this, I have supported families and school staff.

Having the premises has opened up a lot of doors, experiences, and opportunities, not just for my organisation but for others that I am working closely with. I’ve built up strong working connections with others who support all ages and abilities, from their physical health to their mental health.

Collectively we’ve been able to offer support and services for people in our community with their health, well-being, and development through a tiered approach – from fitness classes, to mindfulness courses.

We work with a number of women to improve their health, social wellbeing, fitness and mindset by creating a welcoming and non-judgemental place.”

What’s worked?

“Finding people who have the same ethos as me, supporting people as best we can, and adapting and shaping sessions, classes, and courses to try and suit each individual.

Having a base that we can all work under has been a massive achievement and has enabled us to come together like a jigsaw to support as many people as we can by using different professions, experience, knowledge, and understanding.”

What have you learned? Any challenges?

“I have learned so much along the way and been extremely lucky to meet a lot of other people in my borough who have the community at their heart and who want to use their skills and experiences to help others in a supportive and productive way.

I have also learned to follow opportunities as they change and keep on working on the future plan learning from others and what people actually need. The challenges have been setting up premises with very little income off our own back.

Knowing that the end goal is in sight but not having all the resources to bring it to fruition and juggling our time has been a huge challenge, as building a centre and making connections takes a long time to do.

Also, the pandemic has been a huge challenge as we strive to stay open and be there for the community with little or no footfall currently coming into the premises. Some of our services have gone online but many aren’t suitable for that and people want real-world connections.”

What’s next?

“In partnership with Flourish, we are currently working with women who are unemployed on a supportive learning journey, with mindfulness techniques, new skills in the workshops, and mentoring support .”

We are looking forward to this developing throughout the New Year. I am also creating courses for young people that can be delivered by school staff as part of a train the trainer approach.

We are also working on the premises being bigger and better and can’t wait for the Spring when we can start to work with the community again, with more resources, more activities, sessions and more opportunities to develop in health and wellbeing, skills and development.

I have also been accepted to undertake a PhD in Mindfulness for Autism at Edge Hill University and aim to use this to improve the lives of autistic children through diagnosis, full family support packages, and interventions.”

What advice, contacts, or resources would help you?

“To have more of an online presence as we are developing online support and resources, and to also have contacts who can share and spread the word about our premises, services, and what we are about.”

Why we’re sharing these stories

Each year, an individual or organisation from each of our five categories plus one exceptional judges’ choice individual is recognised at our annual Igniting Inspiration celebration event.

We publish each and every nomination to raise awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North. While, this year, our physical event had to be deferred, our campaign to spread stories of positive social impact continues – good news is needed!