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  York Mind Newsletter

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A very warm welcome to our March 2018 newsletter.

We are York Mind, your local mental health charity. 

We believe no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. If you live in York, we are here for you. Today. Now. Whether you are stressed, depressed or in crisis. We will listen, give support and advice, and fight your corner.

We hope you are having a good start to the new year and look forward to engaging with you throughout 2018.

We are delighted to share with you news on all the exciting work that we have been doing recently but before that, we would like to personally thank every single person who raised money for us last year, you all went above and beyond; from sky dives, to multi-country cycle challenges, to direct donations! We sincerely thank you for your support - read on to see what your money has been helping to provide.


Picture: New and exciting partnerships for the New Year: Benenden UK choose York Mind as their charity partner for 2018

I hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter; please do get in touch with your thoughts and feedback, we would love to hear what you think......

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Amazing achievements

Since January 2015 York Mind has provided a very popular and highly regarded Mentoring Project thanks to funding from the BIG Lottery Fund.

Sadly, the funding came to an end in December last year so in this newsletter we'd like to take the opportunity to look back over the project and celebrate the amazing success and achievements of the team and service users. 

Hannah Walker, the Project and Service Manager, shares her thoughts with us and then the newsletter features words from Rhys, Sophie and Tim - all of whom were a part of the project and who experienced very positive outcomes due to their involvement.

Hannah tells us:

"I feel really privileged to have worked on such a great project and with such a lovely and inspiring bunch of people."

This year Pam and I have been incredibly busy supporting a team of 14 volunteers and together we have mentored 78 people. Volunteers have fed-back that they have gained so much from the experience. One volunteer said that she 'came here to help people but I've gained so much from the experience and been really humbled and inspired by the clients I've worked with' and another volunteer that 'the experience led to a total career change for me and I wouldn't have been able to secure a job in mental health without the experience York Mind have given me'.

Client feedback has been amazing with:

  • 98% rating the service they received as Excellent or Good; and
  • 93% rating the people who delivered the service as Excellent.

Picture: Hannah Walker Mentoring Project and Service Manager with the team of Volunteer Mentors.

Over the lifetime of the project we have supported more than 150 people and delivered around 1,833 sessions which have:

  • Enabled 144 people to develop tools to manage their mental health and difficult life events;
  • Facilitated positive change in 132 peoples' mental health;
  • Empowered 144 people to gain in confidence and self-esteem; and
  • Helped 155 people to feel less lonely.

Here is what some project participants have said about their mentoring experience:

"The sessions have taken me from such a dark place to a more optimistic, self-caring place and there is no one I would have rather done it with, and I can't thank you enough. What you do makes such a difference!"

"It was pretty much perfect! I was looking for counselling but in hindsight this was much more what I needed. This was massively better."

"Fantastic and life-changing experience, thank you"

Career changing experience

Volunteer Mentor Rhys Harrison

"I have personal lived experience of mental illness. I was first diagnosed with clinical depression in April 2015 and had a crisis in December 2015, to which my GP quickly arranged access to a Counsellor."

"In 2016, when I started volunteering for York Mind, I had never been involved in voluntary work for any organisation. The training I received from York Mind was excellent. What was really eye-opening was the diversity of my fellow volunteers, all of whom were wiling to dedicate their time and energy to mentor clients who are recovering from mental ill-health. The training was well structured and provided me with the framework and tools to commence mentoring clients on the path towards recovery."

"York Mind gave me the opportunity to channel and focus my energies when I was at a low point in my life. Through mentoring adults recovering from mental ill-health, I was able to regain a sense of self-worth and a belief that I could make a difference. Most importantly, I feel I was able to assist my clients on the path to recovering from mental ill health. It was the greatest satisfaction to assist one of my client's from believing that they could never give up an addiction - at the end of our 12 sessions together the client fully believed that freedom from their addiction was possible. More importantly, the client, for the first time, was able to have a conversation with their son about their mental health. There is no better experience than being able to be a small part in helping someone more forward positively with their life."

"As a result of having the opportunity to be a volunteer mentor at York Mind I have totally changed the direction of my career. Prior to volunteering I had worked in the IT industry for 35 years. As an outcome of my experiences at York Mind I found employment with DWP as the Mental Health Community Partner for North Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and Humberside. Without the invaluable experience at York Mind I would not have been able to do this."

"The role within the DWP has enabled me to act as an advocate for individuals with mental health issues, raise awareness of the impact of mental health on DWP customers, upskill work-coaches to better understand the impact of mental health on customers and engage on behalf of the DWP with the wider mental health community (NHS Mental Health Services, North Yorkshire Police and Local Authorities across the Region). Without my training and experiences at York Mind this would not have been conceivable 12 months ago."


Picture: Volunteer Mentors at Highcliffe House

Sophie's story

During my second year of University, I reached the point where it seemed like all the different parts of my life were falling apart - my university work, my extracurricular activities and my friendships. My mental health spiralled and by the end of term I slept most of the day, spoke to no-one except my boyfriend and was self-harming to deal with my overwhelming emotions. I took a nine month break from university at Easter to work on my mental health, though it continued to deteriorate and I felt that my life wasn't worth living. With some intervention and a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and Depression, my mental health plateaued but I couldn't see a way out of the dark place I was in.

I first got contact with York mind in March. It was at a time where I reached out to any scheme or opportunity I could, trying to find a way to a better mental place. The NHS could only do a limited amount for me becuase of only having nine months, but York Mind Mentoring got in-touch and offered me a place. It really was the start of a huge turn around for me! The Mentoring Course was perfect for me because I desperately wanted to find a way to feel better but I didn't have the framework to do that on my own. I am also terrible with procrastinating, so having my mentor to keep me accountable definitely reminded me to do my tasks for the week!

Through the sessions, my mentor and I spoke about the different challenges and successes I faced each week, as well as specific areas that I wanted to work on, such as self-esteem and social networks. Together, we created targets for the end of the course and took small steps, week by week, to move towards those targets. It was a really special space in which I could talk about how I felt and reflect on it, without any judgement or pressure - something I felt I couldn't do anywhere else.

Having recently finished the course, I am amazed at how much difference York Mind mentoring has made to my life. I was easily stressed by any small challenge and overwhelemed by my constantly changing emotions, leaving me often unsafe to be left alone because I was a danger to myself. Now, I am much better at dealing with my strong emotions and difficult situations, and feel very safe nearly all the time.

I am more self-aware, comfortable in my own skin and generally much happier. I have worked shifts at a job which I was no way able to do when at my lowest and have begun university essays in preparation for my return in January.

The York Mind Mentoring Course has been such a significant part of my recovery back to a mentally healthy place, where I feel I can tackle problems in my way instead of crumbling against them. My mentor was so supportive, welcoming, friendly and sensitive to my emotional roller-coatser through the last few months. If you are crying out for help, contact York Mind. The amazing people who work there have made an incredible difference in my life and they absolutely can in yours!

Picture: Sophie enjoying the sights.

It's that picture on the wall

Tim tells us about his time with the project:

"Throughout my time at York Mind, which is still ongoing, I was asked by my mentor what my hobbies were and for anyone with any form of mental health issues this question can be a but daunting as this all depends on your current state of mind."

"So I said I said I like song writing as I find it a way of escapism from the issues I face in life and it is a good way of expressing yourself and your feelings."

"On the second visit I was asked if I could write a song, so I said 'yes', but because I had not written one for ages I did not know what it could be about. That was when I saw a picture on the wall which kind of inspired me. Titled, 'It's that picture on the wall', the song is dedicated to anyone with mental health issues."

"I find mentoring on a 1-2-1 basis very helpful. It helps me understand the issues I face in life and my mentor said that she liked my song and that the people at York Mind were inspired by it."

It's that picture on the wall

Verse 1

Face down mirror, long lost soul,

the sun's gone down now, I'm all alone.

A field of sunflowers they all shine

bright, as I lay down in this field,

with no energy tonight.


I seperate my mind to the house on the hill,

Where the skies were shining bright, and the time was standing still.

Where everyone relaxed, and they all layed down,

to understand the guy, in the field, but how?

They went to pick him up, and brought him to the top,

they put some music on which kind of made him rock.

He escaped his old life, because the people really cared,

They were not so artificial with the things they had to share

Verse 2

My thoughts are thinking, is there something I'm missing, so seperate

Oh I am drifting, so out of this world.

Can I trust you, what can I share,

When I don't really know you, or if you care.


Verse 3

That golden night when the sun layed down to sleep,

With the red skies within the clouds of all I did achieve,

but now is gone.

Verse 4

I'm still alone, but not so lonely now,

I stepped into that dread, but I'm not sure how?

It's amazing how you think

When your imagination glows, an invention

of a story, to let everybody know.

It's that picture on the wall,

It's that picture on the wall,

It's that picture on the wall.

Picture: 'Heaven is A Place on Earth' painted by Donna Collis - Tim's inspiration.

Fitting the pieces together

The Young People's Team have recently designed, and had produced, a new recovery tool for young people of primary school age.

The Jigsaw (pictured below) is to be used by the young people's mentors, as a way of exploring the emotions and monitoring the progress of the young person they are supporting.

The new recovery tool has received some great feedback so far with the young people enjoying the simplicity of the jigsaw and the bright, attractive nature of the pieces.

Picture: The Jigsaw to be used by the young peple's volunteer mentors

If you would like further information on York Mind's Young People's Services please email or call 01904 643 364

Leave a gift in your Will for York Mind

Could you be an angel for York Mind and remember us in your Will?

Money raised through gifts in Wills is a very important part of our fundraising and our ability to continue to provide our much needed services for the people of York.

We know that caring for family and friends is a priority; however, after making provision for them, if you would consider leaving a gift to York Mind in your Will it would be greatly appreciated.

You can either leave a specific amount or a share of what is left over after all your wishes have been carried out.

Leaving a gift couldn't be simpler. If you haven't yet made a Will it can be done when you see your Solicitor. If you already have a Will your Solicitor can simply add an addition to it.

If you would like any further information on leaving a legacy please contact Rosanna Andrews on

Have a voice

York Advocacy started their new Access to Benefits and Debt Advice Project in December 2017. The project has enabled the team to support more clients at benefits assessments and appeals, and in accessing advice.

Going to a PIP or an ESA assessment is often a worrying and upsetting experience and York Advocacy are really keen to support anyone who feels they struggle to be heard or understand the process.

Many people also struggle to access advice around benefits and debt, due to anxiety or other reasons. York Advocacy would like to help clients make sure they are getting the best advice so they can make the best decisions for themselves.

This project runs for a year.

If you live in the City of York and would like to make a referral to York Advocacy please contact the team on 01904 414 357,email or visit the website

Benefits and Debt - know your rights

Sunday Coffee Club

The York Mind Sunday Coffee Club launched on Sunday 11th February at 30 Clarence Street and the first sitting was a great success.

17 clients attended the session which runs from 2pm - 5pm. The club is a very relaxed informal setting and the first event saw lots of laughs and conversations as well as some challenging chess! Feedback from those who came as very positive with everyone saying how it was great to have a safe space to meet on a Sunday and everyone was keen to come back again.

York Mind is thrilled to have this club up and running as we know from our clients how hard weekends can be as how isolating they can find them. The Coffee Club is the perfect tonic to this isolation as it provides the opportunity to gather, share information about what is out there in York, offer support and make good friendships.


Picture: Coffee Club at 30 Clarence Street

To help the Coffee Club thrive and grow we really need your help. Please spread the word to anyone who might like to attend and who would benefit from this type of support on a Sunday. Also, if you have any old board games, jigsaws, cards etc. at home please think about donating them to York Mind for use at the club.


Providing the tools to aid recovery

Are you unemployed? Would you like to change your situation but don't know how? Are you aware that York Mind has a service that may be able to help?

York Mind is one of the partnership organisations working on the Action Towards Inclusion (ATI) Project, which offers flexible support to help adults overcome physical, psychological, financial and skills-related barriers and progress towards employment, training, education and job-search.

Working 1-1 with a keyworker York Mind will aim to help you identify and access support that is the most meaningful to you and your situation. This may include counselling and/or wellbeing and personal development activities, financial support and advice, and access to employability skills such as English; Maths; ICT; CV writing and job searching; training; volunteering and/or other work experience opportunities.

Helen Fairburn, York Mind's ATI Project Manager:

"This project provides the opportunity to offer longer-term support to those who, as a result of experiencing mental ill-health, are unemployed and finding it difficult to have the self-confidence, self-belief or skills (either emotionally or practically) to move into training or find work, and to support them through this process in a way which aims to encompass all aspects of their life: personal, social and professional."


Picture: ESF ATI Project   

 If you are interested in finding out more about the service, or would like to make a referral, please contact Helen Fairburn on 01904 666 752 or email


Action Towards Inclusion (ATI) is part of the national Building Better Opportunities Programme and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.


R.E.D a month's challenge

Throughout January York Mind teamed up with national Mind and R.E.D January (run every day). This was an exciting fundraising event partnership which aimed to encourage people to be active every day to benefit their mental and physical wellbeing and to promote conversations and awareness around the importance of mental health.

Many of the York Mind team took part in the event. Georgie, a Volunteer Mentor on our Young People's Team shares her R.E.D January experience.

Georgie tells us:

"For me, R.E.D January was the start of a completely new challenge. One that I would not have even dreamt about a few months ago. Never would you catch me going for a run, or saying 'sorry I can't come later, got to do my run tonight.' But, somehow, magically, I morphed into a kind of running and fitness fanatic."

"It's not that I was really out of shape, I'm a dance teacher so fitness isn't something I struggle with, but running was. Not so much the actual act of running itself, but the anxieties and doubts that come along with it. For years I have faced my own struggles with OCD and anxiety and running just didn't help. Whenever I tried to run it felt like my lungs were closing up, mimicking the behaviour of my own frequent panic attacks"

"Thankfully, at this stage of my life, having sought help when I most needed it, I can cope with my OCD and anxiety. The end of last year bought some challenges in itself, and I had to come to terms with the passing of several people that I loved."

"I decided not to wallow in grief, I decided to be pro-active. Having mentored for York Mind for almost three years I took to their Facebook page and saw the link for R.E.D (Run Every Day) January. I needed the challenege and what better way to do it than to face my fears"

"I started slowly, using my FitBit to track how far I'd run and how long it had taken me. Before the end of the week I realised that my time to run the same distance had decreased, my resting heartrate was lowered and I was feeling fab. For the first couple of weeks I really focused on getting my time down but I realised after a while that this wasn't a positive thing for me as I began to get annoyed when I didn't beat my previous time. After that, running became second nature and I always made time to squeeze a run in. It felt so good to be able to do something for myself as well as helping others at the same time."

"At the end of the month I managed to raise £302.50 for York Mind and decided to keep up with my running! I am so proud of myself for doing something which I never thought I'd achieve, which just goes to show that you can do anything if you put your mind to it! I would also like to share a special shout out to my puppy Sully, who ran with me every inch of the way"

 Picture: Georgie and Sully clocking up the kilometers

Huge thanks go to Georgie and Sully for their support. An incredible personal achievement and some fantastic fundrasing too.  

Healthcare charity heroes taking action for mental health

This Time To Talk Day (1st February 2018) York Mind and Benenden UK launched a very exciting year long charity partnership.

This national awareness day was the perfect opportunity to kick start the exciting new collaboration. Emmie Wise, CSR & Engagement Co-ordinator from Benenden, explains:

"We can't wait to focus more on mental health with the help of York Mind, and we are looking forward to fundraising in aid of such a worthy cause throughout the year. Benenden has been working to prioritise mental health for quite some time now, and 2017 saw the business sign the Time To Change Pledge, and provide training in Mental Health First Aid. However, as this move has been voted for by staff across the organisation, it is clear that the topic is of high importance to us all, not just as a business, but as individuals too." 

The decision for the two organisations to work together was made by Benenden staff, who voted in December of last year for their 'Charity of the Year 2018'. The results showed clearly that colleagues recognised and valued mental health as a rising problem, and wanted to take positive action to change this.

And 2018 looks set to be packed with action for employees, with planned activities to include dress-down days, cake sales, awareness days on site and a team of 16 staff to take part in the Rotary Dragon Boat Race in July.

Holly Bilton, York Mind's Community Fundraiser says:

"We are so thrilled that Benenden staff have chosen to support York Mind with their fundraising and awareness activities this year. It is very encouraging to see the positive steps that have already been taken to make Benenden a supportive place to work, for staff members who may be struggling with their mental wellbeing. We look forward to working closely together with the team to help York Mind move forward."

Picture: Benenden staff and Edgar celebrating the launch

If you would like to be kept up-to-date with fundraising opportunities: how to volunteer at events, find out more about upcoming challenges (such as next year's York 10k or the Great North Run) or receive this quarterly newsletter please do get in touch:

Please also get in touch with Holly if you, or your employer would like a new challenge and could help fundraise for York Mind.



Support and encouragement when it is needed most

It has been a busy - but very exciting - few months in the Befriending Service. We have been varying our social events for clients in order to keep supporting and encouraging people to participate in a wider variety of activities in the community, as well as having as much fun as possible along the way.

We have enjoyed burgers in the fresh air at our BBQ socials, unleashed our creative sides at craft sessions, honed our skills on the lanes at bowling, got competitive at our board game afternoons, as well as enjoying quizzes and buffets a plenty at our Halloween and Christmas parties!

Our 1-2-1 befriending, well-being groups, confidence and resilience courses and socials have continued to offer a safe and friendly environment, to support people in reducing their social isolation and improving their overall mental wellbeing.

We have had some beautiful feedback recently from people who have accessed the service:

"It helped a lot getting to know someone especially when that person helps by listening on bad and good days. having the 1-2-1 where you know that person likes you for who you are. Taking me to places I've never been, which has opened my eyes. Thank you so much. I wasn't in a good place before York Mind, I was all alone. Now I am in a better place."

"It has given me a feeling of support and care whenever I needed it and that I wasn't alone. I've been helped by a great network of people who really care. It has also helped me to clarify where I am going in my life and that anything is possible."

"York Mind and the staff there have helped me and continue to help me stay alive and keep going. I had a loss in my family and if York Mind had not been available to talk to and go see then things would have ended up a lot worse. Grief is a thing I never coped with before but thanks to York Mind I am still going, because there is always someone there to chat with. Always a friendly smile and an open door. It is awesome and helps more than people will ever understand."


Picture: Befriending does Fundraising at Selby Christmas Market

The Befriending Team have also been spending some time raising money for the service - we spent a day bag-packing and chatting to the lovely customers and staff at Sainsbury's in Selby. From the day we raised an incredible £373.17!

We also had a fantastically fun day holding a crafts and cake stall at the Selby Christmas Market and Lights Switch On, with all our crafts kindly donated to us by the St Wilfrid's Wellbeing Cafe. We raised £184.79 from the stall and had a brilliant time connecting with people in Selby.

If you would like to find out more about York Mind's Befriending Service please email or call 01904 643364.


Activities to put a Spring in your step

As we move into Springtime in York, we are all looking forward to nicer weather and longer brighter days. We may start to look at ways to keep ourselves busy, motivate and energise ourselves after the winter months. Springtime can be a great time to make positive changes to our lives.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Activities Programme offers some fantastic activities and opportunities for people in York to be more active, increase their learning and knowledge, prevent isolation and loneliness and be more involved with their Community.

Research shows that staying active, be it in an educational or recreational capacity, can help to improve emotional and physical wellbeing and help us to feel more connected with others.

York Mind, as part of the Activities Programme, are actively taking referrals for the following groups:

Assertiveness Skills - an eight week course starting in March and May.

Mental Health Awareness - an eight week course starting in May.

Eating Well for Good Health - a 12 week course starting in April.

Hatha Yoga for Wellbeing - a ten week course starting in April.

Wellbeing Peer Support Group - a 12 week group starting in April.

Recovery Focused Peer Support Group (Substance Misuse and Mental Health) - ongoing starting in April.

Mindful Walking Group - ongoing.

York Mind Sunday Coffee Club with themed Coffee Afternoons - weekly from 11th February .

The Activities Programme links in with six other local organisations to deliver a wide variety of activities and groups. Something for everyone to enjoy: 

  • Converge;
  • Kindlewoods;
  • St. Nicks;
  • York Carers Centre;
  • York LGBT; and
  • Sunshine Changing Lanes.

A quote from one of our Yoga group members:

"I hadn't exercised in years and was really worried about attending a group session. The staff at York Mind helped me to sign up and let me meet the Yoga Tutor beforehand to get over some of my anxiety. The first session was such a laugh (practicing downward dog was funny) and the people I met at the class were so friendly and welcoming. I felt a sense of belonging and I felt safe. The class has helped me to feel more confident and also to start to think more about my wellbeing and that my health is important. It has really helped me to sleep and relax too and I use the handouts to practice at home. I love it!"


Picture: The Yoga Group

If you would like to find out more about the Activities Programme please contact the team on 01904 643 364 or email

Please see the York Mind website to view the full Activities Brochure, enrolment form and guidelines

And finally...

As always, a massive 'thank you' goes out to all of you who support York Mind and the work that we do - we couldn't do it without you!

Amazing achievements
Mentoring Memories
Career changing experience
Sophie's story
It's that picture on the wall
Fitting the pieces together
University of York's Business Accounting and Management Society Winter Ball
Leave a gift in your Will for York Mind
York and Selby Befriending Christmas Socials
Have a voice
Benefits and Debt - know your rights
Sunday Coffee Club
Providing the tools to aid recovery
R.E.D a month's challenge
Healthcare charity heroes taking action for mental health
Support and encouragement when it is needed most
Activities to put a Spring in your step
And finally...

"Since coming and meeting everyone at York Mind it has changed my life forever. As soon as I walk though the door I feel safe, warm and welcome. Thank you so much"


"Thanks so much for the support with training and fundraising, you really made me feel like part of the team and it's been a pleasure, I am so proud to have been a part of it.""


"I was practically housebound before finding York Mind's Activites Service. Now I am slowly increasing my social networks and reigniting old skills and passions, like knitting."


"Now that the dust has settled, I just thought I would send an email to say thank you for the course this week. You are very engaging and passionate and made us all feel at ease. I now feel so much more confident that I could deal with more work situations. The course was also really beneficial for myself and has helped me with my own anxiety. Thank you."


"It melts my heart when I do Art. I thought I couldn't do it. I was useless, I can't draw. I found out I was wrong. It has given me the freedom to express my feelings, meet new friends and share my thoughts. It has helped me remember I am smart."


Check out amazing York Mind Fundraiser, Cath Jones, doing a Skydive for us. Cath doesn't like heights and is scared of flying so this is an incredible achievement


"I started out accessing Advocacy at York Mind and then joined in some of the activities including Yoga and Festive Baking. My confidence has really grown over time from the support and now I am in a position to give back some support to others. I am now volunteering with York Mind."


"The Writing Course at York Mind has allowed me to look reflectively at some past events and traumas in my life and bring new value to the painful things that have shaped my life and given them unforeseen value."

West Offices

"I am in awe at the benefits of Yoga on my Mental Health. I was afraid to relax, to release tension, worries and pain. To feel at all, made me cry. I now need Yoga in my life. I want to be feel free and be a 'warrior'."


"Since starting the writing course I realise I have a voice, I have something to say, I have a story to tell. People want to listen. Thank you for enlightening me."


Mulligatanni for York Mind - Following the success of last year's curry pack donation Rafi's Spice Box, one of our Corporate Supporters, ran another great offer on our behalf throughout February. A 50p donation from every Mulligatanni Curry Mix pack sold from their York Store will be donated towards our services. Thanks so much Rafi's Spice Box!


"Fantastic afternoon with Mark and Vicky from @TheYorkMind reducing the #stigma of #suicideprevention with #safeTalk"


The power of 90 in 90....York Mind Fundraiser, Damian O'Connor, is taking on 90 10k runs in 90 days to increase awareness of mental health issues and to raise vital funds for York Mind.

We reckon this is a pretty amazing feat and can't thank him enough for his support. Follow his progress via social media at:

Facebook - Damian M O'Connor

Twitter - @90in90power1

Instagram - dmthescribbler

YouTube - The Power of 90 in 90 Project


For more information on any of our services please contact:

01904 643 364


I just wanted to drop you a line to say a HUGE 'thank you' for delivering the MHFA Course last week. The feedback I got from Carers and Staff was excellent and I felt you were brilliant with the Carers - answering some very difficult questions at times. You were very skilled with your delivery and the course was engaging and enjoyable - even though it is a difficult subject matter!"


Get in touch with us

There are numerous ways you can get in touch; visit our contact page.