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Women's support group launches calendar

PUBLISHED: 15:25 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:54 13 July 2010

A support group for women battling mental ill health threw open the doors to celebrate its success and the launch of a fundraising calendar.

Swan - Supporting Women and Activities Network - helps isolated women in rural north Norfolk find friends, confidence and hope.

A support group for women battling mental ill health threw open the doors to celebrate its success and the launch of a fundraising calendar.

Swan - Supporting Women and Activities Network - helps isolated women in rural north Norfolk find friends, confidence and hope.

The informal group, launched in 2005, meets from 11am to 1pm on Wednesdays at the recreation ground youth club in Stalham where women can take part in creative activities or just chat over a cup of tea.

Rona Prince, Swan vice-chairman and a founder member, said health service cuts meant groups like Swan were rare, but crucial.

She joined while suffering from acute anxiety and trauma after the death of both her parents in a short time.

“The first time I went all I did was cry because I was so frightened of everything,” recalled Rona, from Eccles. “But after about six weeks I found myself thinking one night 'Oh good, it's Swan tomorrow'. What makes it so unique is that you're with ladies who are going through the same thing. They understand without you having to explain yourself.

“People feel safe. As I started to get better, it gave me a focus and an interest. The change you see in people is incredible,” she added.

Linda Madgwick, 62, from Sutton, shut herself away suffering from depression, anxiety and panic attacks prompted by a deluge of misfortunes including fears for her husband's job, his father's death, family illness, plus her own skin cancer.

She feels Swan has helped her over the worst: “I don't have the feeling of dread in my stomach here that I usually have,” she said. “I can relax and be myself and I enjoy all the art and craft activities.”

Swan is funded by Awards for All, Norfolk County Council, North Norfolk District Council, Norfolk Community Foundation and the Rural Projects Fund.

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