HANNAH goes to market

A group of participants from our New Outlook branch in Wollongong recently decided to set up a stall at Crown Street Markets. Hannah Harris accesses our New Outlook service and is the mastermind behind the stall. We spoke with her about how their first attempt at commerce went…

PANORAMA: Why did you want to run a stall?

HANNAH: I thought it would be a great way to get the members of Flourish Australia out into the community to show Wollongong who we are and what we do, as well as raising some money for the centre at the same time.

Why Crown Street Markets?

We decided that Crown Street Markets was our best option, as it’s close by and it’s open on one of the same days as us (Friday). Crown Street was also a good option because many of the New Outlook members live close by. This is important, as I wanted to push the members outside of their comfort zones, but not too far.

What did you sell?

All the things we sold were handmade either by me or by the members of New Outlook. The things I contributed were ones I personally thought would be fun to sell, and included pillow cases stitched from scratch, fairy bottles (bottles with glitter and a word of hope in them), cards, and little gift bags. The members made boxes, tie-dyed socks and pillow cases, and wove dreamcatchers. We made most of these things in our Wednesday arts and craft group.

What’s done with the money if you make a profit?

All that the money that we make from the stall goes back to our committee (which is made up of members and staff). Whenever the committee receives any funds they decide as a group what activities or events the money will go towards.

Does it cost much to rent a stall?

For us, it didn’t cost anything! I emailed the market people and asked them if we could run a fundraising stall for Flourish Australia. We had to get council permission and a permit for the stall, though.

Who manned (or womanned) the stall? Is there a roster or something?

When I set up the stall I asked for people to put their names down to help on the day. It was a voluntary thing to do, so no one was pressured into doing something they didn’t want to do. I was manning the stall most of the day with two other members, one of them helped with the stall as part of their work placement. During the day, a few of the staff came along to give us a break.

Does the stall get assistance from Flourish Australia workers?

The staff at Flourish Australia were amazing. They helped throughout the entire planning process, and even used their mini bus to help us transport everything to Crown Street.

When did you set up and when do you pack up?

We started setting up the stall at around 9:30 in the morning on Friday, and began packing away at about 2pm that afternoon. This allowed us plenty of time to set up the marque and the tables and to make the stall look professional and presentable.

Have there been obstacles?

As this was the first stall, there were a lot of obstacles that we had to figure our way through. The main one was trying to get New Outlook members involved. When you have a mental health condition it can be hard to willingly come out of your comfort zone, so I wanted to push the members a bit and try and get them involved in the community. That is exactly what the stall was designed to do… well, at least that’s ONE of the reasons I decided to run it.

Another barrier was my own mental health. My anxiety was constantly up and down, and I’d taken on a lot of the responsibilities of making this stall become a reality. Surprises didn’t help. For instance, a week before the stall was meant to happen I found out that I needed council permission, so talking to the council about this was something that I had not anticipated.

As it was the first stall, there were so many unknowns. It was difficult, but worth it.

Have you gotten to know any people who run the other stalls? Are they good neighbours?

I was very fortunate to already know the lady who ran the crystal stall next to us, as I go to Crown Street Markets every week. She gave us a lot of encouragement and assistance on the day. I also know the lady who runs the Markets themselves. She also runs the Bulli Markets, and my partner has been a member of their committee for quite some time.

What were your favourite parts about running a stall?

I can’t really say what my one favourite part of the stall was, because the whole experience was so fantastic!

For starters, I loved having a project I could work on from start to finish. Being able to serve as an integral part of every step in something I am very passionate about was amazing.

I was also very happy to show the Wollongong community what Flourish Australia is all about, and how much of a benefit this organisation can be for people who live with mental health conditions. We had quite a few members of the community ask what Flourish Australia is and what we do, and it turned out a lot of people had never even heard of us. Some of them were actually looking for the sorts of services our organisation provides, so it was great to have an opportunity to really promote the centre. I think this stall was a very good promotion for the Flourish Australia name in my area.

I also loved being able to use the skills that I learnt at TAFE, and creating handmade things helps to soothe my anxiety, so I enjoy that, too.

Flourish Australia is safe space for people with mental health conditions to go and not feel like they are alone.

Flourish Australia New Outlook, 3 Station Street WOLLONGONG, NSW, 2500

PHONE: 1300 779 270

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