Liverpool-based Calderstones Park artist encourages social interaction through workshops


Christine Toh’s creative workshops provide social interaction along with new skills

A Liverpool textile artist is aiming to promote social well-being through her paper folding workshops.

Christine Toh is part of the Reader Organisation, a charitable society based in Calderstones Park’s mansion that aims to connect people of all ages via a variety of events.

The charitable society aims to connect people of all ages through a variety of events, ranging from reading groups to hands-on workshops.

And in the video below, Ms Toh talks about what people can expect to learn during the three-hour long sessions.

The next available workshops in 2016 take place on Thursday January 28 and Friday February 5, and run from 10am – 1pm.

Each session costs £8, with refreshments and materials included, and bookings can be made by contacting Ms Toh at


Fight Off Your Demons

I think this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write.

Frankly, I feel terrified putting this out there. This is probably the most personal thing I’ve written about myself, and not knowing how anyone will react has induced a fair bit of anxiety within me.

Why? Because I’ve never told anyone any of this before.

But it needs saying. For my own sake.


I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve.

My brother and sister are out celebrating the arrival of 2016 with their respective partners and friends; my parents are downstairs watching TV and my  friends are at a house party, or out in town, or celebrating in whatever way they see fit.

And I’m in my room, struggling to fight off another bout of unrelenting unhappiness.

Frankly, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t struck down by a surge of negativity. I vaguely remember feeling pretty invincible around the age of 16/17, but then most people that age tend to.

For the past few years though? I’ve definitely had multiple occasions where I’ve felt so down on myself that it’s been dificult to even get out of bed of a morning.

Negative voices in your head are terrible things to suffer with. They drain you of self worth, self confidence and suck the life out of you to the point where everything is an effort.

They feel like gigantic, black shadows that are never too far away, and you can’t hide from them or out-run them. They’re always there. Lurking.

Negative thoughts feed those inner demons, which then churn out more negative thoughts in an almost perpetual cycle of self loathing.

Being a mental issue too means it’s seemed impossible to rectify too. It’s not something physical – you can’t just look at in the mirror, think ‘I can go to the gym and change how my body looks’ and then go and do it.

It doesn’t help that I’m quite an introverted person as it is, or that I can be socially awkward, but when one of these ‘black moods’ strike, the proverbial towel has been thrown into the ring so often it’s been hard to keep track of.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been invited to gatherings of friends at house parties, or to meet heroes/idols of mine, or find something worth pursuing as a career/hobby, or seen that beautiful woman walking down the street towards me, and wanting to do something about it.

But then the voices pop up.

I’ve made up excuses in my head to justify what I’ve been telling myself. Things like I’m too busy to hang out, or that woman probably has a boyfriend, or that I’d rather spend the night alone in my room.

Hell, I’ve even turned down hanging out with my own brother and sister when they’re out with their partners because I feel like I’d be the fifth wheel, and knowing that they have someone else to enjoy any particular moment with is painful to the point where I’d rather be on my own than out enjoying myself.

And so I spiral towards guilt, remorse and feel like I’m the worst person in the world – sometimes for days on end.

I feel selfish, and that I feel like I’m pushing people away. I’ve lied to every member of my immediate family this week, telling them that I’m fine and I’m ‘just tired’ or ‘stressed about my college studies’.

These voices and thoughts make me feel worthless. Powerless. Helpless.

I have become a victim of my own mind, and staring back at myself in the mirror isn’t bearable sometimes, because I’m ashamed of the person staring back at me.

What I’ve felt, what I’m feeling, is akin to telling myself that I’ll be alone forever and there’s nobody who can help me.

Desperately though I want to, I cannot tell anyone how I feel for fear of being viewed as less masculine than others.


I found myself earlier tonight stumbling across the CALM zone website, and spent time reading about this organisation, what they stand for and saw other people’s stories about how they began to overcome their struggles.

A wave of relief and overwhelming emotion spread over me, and I realised something that subconciously I have probably known all along.

I don’t have to live my life this way.

I don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions as I find they can be broken easily but, with a New Year upon us, I’ve decided to make one to myself.

I’m taking back control of my life.

Whenever I feel the negative voices and thoughts begin to surface, I’ll can do something about them.

I can:

Put on some awesome music and dance in my own silly way.

Go for a walk to clear my head, and breathe in the fresh air around me to help me see more clearly.

Go for a run/to the gym and get those endorphins flowing through my body and mind.

Read a self-help book, and do the exercises in them.

Listen to talks/podcasts on improving my self image and self confidence, and implement what I hear.

Talk to people. Friends, family, anyone I encounter, about anything. Even if it’s just a brief conversation, it’ll benefit me in the short and long term.

Doing yoga/breathing exercises to calm myself down.

Write down/speak positive affirmations and recite them over and over until the negativity is drowned out.

And, finally, smile. Even if it’s at myself in the mirror.

Some days the voices may prove too strong, and I’ll feel like the waves are about to crash over me again.

But it will be okay. I’ll just have more work to do to fight off my demons.


I’ve spent so much of the last few years stuck in a negative loop, wasting precious time trapped inside the prison of my own mind.

It’s time that I no longer want to squander. I can overcome this. I will overcome this.

I will live the life I intend to, and won’t let the voices control me.

I know I can come back and read this whenever I need it, to serve as a reminder of why I’m doing this.

And, come the end of 2016, I vow to re-read this to show myself how far I’ve come.