The Museum of Cornish Life in Helston is hosting an exhibition that looks at shedding a light on an issue that a lot of people struggle to understand.

It is part of the ‘I was, I am, I will be’ event that is exploring mental health within Cornwall, and is created by people with social anxiety themselves, with a view of sharing their stories.

Quiet Connections Co-Director and Community Coordinator, Stacie Clark, said: “We hope the exhibition will help to raise awareness and start some conversations around social anxiety and the impact that feeling this way can have on our day-to-day life.

“We really want to let others who also feel this way know that they’re not alone in these challenges, and that they’re not broken. Experiencing social anxiety is far more common than we might think.”

It is thought that over 55,000 people in Cornwall suffer from anxiety, with many not wanting to speak out about it or not physically being able to.

It’s a difficult issue to handle, as those who don’t have it don’t understand it, and those with it can’t speak up about it.

Ingrained within the exhibition are stories of attempted suicides, court issued community service due to missing school, and sitting in a car for half an hour preparing oneself to walk into a supermarket.

The pieces of artwork, that includes storytelling audio crochet, collages, poetry, an interactive wall tapestry and much more, also highlights the journeys of those involved, and how they are growing in confidence, stretching their comfort zones and creating helpful change for themselves.

Over the last 6 months, Quiet Connections CIC have been holding group meetings in Truro, Falmouth and Camborne encouraging people with anxiety to take part in this community art project and reflect on their own ‘I was, I am, I will be’.

One of the participants said “Since being involved in this project I’ve found that I’m accepting myself more and I feel calmer more often.

“I’ve been able to be more social and explore sensitive issues creatively.”

Another member commented “It’s been helpful meeting new people who understand how I feel.

“I’ve realised that I’m able to stretch my comfort zone and actually enjoy it!”

The project has proved to be a success with group members having an 81 per cent increase in feeling more self-accepting, and a 76 per cent increase in feeling more connected to others.

80 per cent also found that the creative activities supported them with letting go of the fear of making mistakes and felt more willing to try something new and have a go.

Furthermore, the project allowed them to explore their thoughts and feelings as well as an increase in practising social interaction.

Stacie added: “We’ve received a lot of feedback so far about how thought-provoking the exhibition has been, which is just amazing to hear, for us and for the members within our quiet community who were involved in it.

“The more we can get people thinking and talking about feeling socially anxious, the better society will be for all of us.”

The exhibition is available for viewing at the Museum of Cornish Life, Helston, until June 1st.