We heard from Laura Matthews, a mental health nurse who wrote a book during lockdown in order to raise money for local charity, Isle Listen. Here she tells us about her book and what inspired her to write it.
During the first lockdown on the Island when the COVID-19 pandemic began and was causing some worry and uncertainty, I was inspired to write Arlen the Anxious Alpaca. My Nephew, like many children found lockdown difficult and it inspired me to do something positive to help children and families who are experiencing anxiety. I also wanted to raise funds for a local Mental Health charity with the book to further contribute to support for younger people in the community. £1 from every book sale is donated to Isle Listen.
The book is about a young adorable Alpaca called Arlen, who lives on a farm and finds himself terrified when humans come to feed him and his friends treats. The story follows Arlen on his journey in overcoming his fear, with the help of an older Alpaca, Adam, who teaches him helpful tips. The story includes a ‘tips for grown-ups’ section at the end and aims to act as a helpful resource for children and families experiencing anxiety. The story aims to be a relatable way for children to recognise the symptoms of anxiety and to teach some of the ways to help overcome these feelings. There has been feedback from families who have read the book that the story has opened up a conversation about anxiety and ultimately this is what it is about – to raise awareness and to normalise these kinds of discussions rather than for children to feel alone in having these feelings and unsure about how to approach them.
I studied and qualified as a Mental Health Nurse on the island in 2017 before starting work at Manannan Court which is the acute mental health hospital on the Island. I have now worked there for more than 3 years and as most of my current work involves supporting those in crisis, I wanted to write the book with the aim of early intervention and crisis prevention. I am passionate about making positive changes within the community and believe that now more than ever this is needed. When I am not working I enjoy travelling (when we can!), exploring the Island, family time and binge watching a whole lot of Netflix shows!