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Arts projects put health and wellbeing on centre stage

  • Date: 10 December 2013
  • Area: South West
Artist Deirdre Nelson looking at a napkin with one of the Saffron Gardens residents

Artist Deirdre Nelson looking at a napkin with one of the Saffron Gardens residents. Credit: Jim Wileman

Arts Council England funded projects are celebrating recognition for the good work they do to improve the health and wellbeing in our local communities in the South West.

Arts Council England National portfolio organisation Creativity Works has won three awards this autumn for outstanding work with people with mental health issues.

In December, the Somerset-based organisation received an award from Breakthrough National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards for its work with women in the criminal justice system in its Networks project. Participants came from Teign Ward (a medium secure unit), HMP Eastwood Park (mother and baby unit), One25 (women trapped in sex work), Rethink (women affected by mental health), and Bristol Drugs project.

Karl Bevis, Director of Creativity Works says, 'We are delighted to see the work recognised on this important national platform and we commend the work of so many important partner organisations. Creativity Works would like to thank everyone who has been involved in all of their projects. It is a pleasure to be part of, and lobby for, the role that the arts, creativity and the imagination play in health.'

Meanwhile, participatory project Napkin Project, produced by Willis Newson and funded by Arts Council England National Lottery-funded Grants for the arts, came to a moving end in December. A total of 120 beautifully embroidered napkins created by volunteers were gifted to the Saffron Gardens dementia care home residents at a special tea party.

One volunteer embroiderer said: 'We have lost one family member to dementia and have another who is also suffering so we know how little things can help. I haven't embroidered for many years and my daughters have yet to learn so it will be a lovely process for all of us.'

Nationally, Parliament is putting the spotlight on the links between art and health with an event on 11 December that examines how government policy can improve wellbeing, organised by the All Party Parliament Group on Wellbeing.

The success of the South West's work around arts, health and wellbeing also feeds in to the Arts Council England's holistic case for arts and culture, which looks at how arts and culture are intrinsically linked to the social, cultural, and economic wellbeing of the country.

Arts Council England National portfolio organisation Arts & Health South West continues to deliver its powerful work to encourage the development of the arts and health sector across the South West.

In June, the organisation's Culture Health and Wellbeing International conference explored issues such as healthy and creative ageing and global health inequalities over three days in Bristol.

Also working across the South West, dance agency Pavilion Dance South West carries out vital work with older people and dance, health and wellbeing as part of its role as an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation.

The agency's ground-breaking work with people with cancer, Parkinsons and dementia is one of many ways the organisation advocates for and embeds dance in society's health and wellbeing provision.

In Spring 2014, Dennis Ross, a participant of Pavilion Dance South West's Parkinson's Dance Class, will be raising money for the class provision by going on a sponsored bike tour in South Africa.

Read more about Arts Council England's holistic case for arts and culture