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Cabarets, body confidence and mental health

Following the amazing Ldn Dares Drama Co. podcast where we spoke to founder Ursula & client, now What The Trans podcast presenter, Michelle.


When sitting in the Ldn Dares podcast recording, I thought the confidence Ldn Dares gives its clients to do and be what they want was unmistakable. A proof of that was her guest, Michelle Snow – who when she first went to Ldn Dares was experiencing complete body dysphoria and is now hosting her own podcast: What the Trans?! Where she challenges the stereotypes, assumptions and prejudice, that had contributed to her struggle.


I wanted to know more, Ursula put me in touch with Karen Hooper to tell me more.


‘I have been booking Ldn Dares at Loughborough Farm (Loughborough Junction Action Group) for the past 5 years as part of our Wish You Were Here (social inclusion) project. This was a space for people experiencing a lot of challenges in their life to find sanctuary and solace. More recently to combat Covid climes, we’ve commissioned socially distanced wellbeing workshops and a webinar. Ursula’s ability to peer support, treat everyone with such empathy and just walk by their side on their way to recovery rather than tugging them along, was part of providing this solace.

Ursula recognises where in the body pain is coming from and creates dares that bring out that hurt and help them heal.

‘This had real impact, I remember after one workshop being moved by a guy who had been referred by his GP feeling overwhelmed by how great he felt afterwards. He later fed back: ‘I had real joy in talking about my great experience of my time with Ursula and what an impact it had on my life and wellbeing !!!!’


A sweeter sensation if you have been in darkness for months, or in some cases, years.

‘I nominated Ursula and Ldn Dares for the Innovation in Healthcare category in the 2018 NHS Lambeth CCG Lammy Awards. The Lammy Awards involved the public nominating people who go beyond to bring healthcare and community spirit together. Basically, at the heart of mental health and wellbeing are conversations between people, that is what is at the heart of Ldn Dares – acceptance and conversation… and innovation.'




Did you ever get involved?


I took part in a Dare Cabaret for Confidence workshop at the beautiful Longfield Hall. It was a wellbeing treat for our growleaders . As you can imagine there were some people who had said ‘There’s no way I’m getting involved!’ But once we were all there and Ursula created a welcoming atmosphere everyone ended up having a go, and we had such a laugh!

I even put on a pair of high heels, which I hadn't done for a while.


We shimmied around the room and did cat walks. We also took the chance to talk about some of our fears around that kind of stuff.


‘I love my body photography challenge’ at Mosaic Club House. We had to think about what bit of our body we loved and why and then we got photographed. For some reason this exercise took me back to a moment travelling in Australia. I had a scooped neck bathing costume on, something about the moment made me feel totally comfortable about myself. And so when asked I chose my upper chest.


I actually had to call Ursula the other week; from Merseyside where I have found myself since March lockdown. I was wearing a scooped neck pyjama top (belonging to my mum who died two years ago) and felt totally comfortable in my skin - and I knew she would understand.


A mental health bed on a ward costs £450/day. This is expensive and avoidable for some.


It is about joining the dots …getting GPs to recognise the benefits of what’s out there in the community that can prevent someone reaching a crisis; organisations like Ldn Dares

who can help address those issues in an inclusive, challenging, all-practical way using drama,movement and other activities . I have been at Loughborough farm since it opened in 2013 and the stories people tell you when they are gardening, the stories they share about their mental health, are quite touching. These kind of conversations and projects and services that facilitate them are needed to help people early on when their mental health declines… for better recovery and prevention.


If you feel like you could benefit from a local service then check out our blog and podcast content for organisations in London. If you still need help give us a call on 0800 046 5393.

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