Over recent years, there has been a growing understanding of the impact that taking part in the arts can have on health and wellbeing. By supplementing medicine and care, the arts can improve the health of people who experience mental or physical health problems.
Engaging in the arts can promote prevention of disease and build wellbeing. The arts can improve healthcare environments and benefit staff retention and professional development.
Essentially, arts for health is all about the positive effect that active engagement can have on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.
(A Charter for the Arts - National Alliance for Arts, Health and Well-being 2012)
Arts for Health has been operating within SSSFT since 2006, beginning with small steps and one part-time co-ordinator. Through successful partnership working across the Trust, with external organisations and artists, Arts for Health is now a thriving, well established and better understood department of the Trust.
Now with an increased staff level and with improved evaluation of projects we have been able to fundraise in order to deliver a wide range of projects; promoting better health and wellbeing through a range of creative activities and events. We are fortunate that the Trust puts great store by the work that is carried out within arts for health.
Artforms that have been explored with participants and staff include: photography, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, willow-weaving, silk painting, a range of textile work, felting, musical events, singing, drumming; dance and drama; creative writing and script-writing.
We work in partnership with the Facilities and Estates and in collaboration with service users, staff and carers to create artwork for any of our new ward developments and buildings – to enhance the environments for service users, carers, visitors and staff.
We aim to support the recovery of people who use our services, whether as inpatients or service users within the community.
Through evaluation and feedback we have found that engaging in the arts can provide:
- Distraction from mental health issues
- Social interaction with other people (be they inpatients, other service users, artists and staff and bringing non-clinical people onto a ward situation – helps to break routine of ward life.
- An improved experience of the Trust
- increased confidence
- chance to learn new skills
- renewed self-esteem
- connections with people
- the opportunity to be treated as a person rather than a patient
- opportunities for people to shine and discover the skills, creativity and potential they have
The Arts for Health programme works in collaboration with other strategic departments, particularly contributing to the spiritual care offered by the Trust to our service users and carers and supporting the Equality and Diversity and anti-stigma agendas.
Arts for Health works in partnership with a range of arts organisations, professional artists, third sector organisations and funding bodies. For example:
East Staffordshire Arts Development Team, Staffordshire University, Keele University, Staffordshire Museum and Arts Services, The Project Group, Oswestry, Cannock District Council, South Staffordshire PCT, Staffordshire College of Further Education, Telford and Wrekin Arts Team, The Rotary Club, The Arts Council England, The Big Lottery, Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology, Telford College of Arts and Technology, Speight of the Art Foundation, Shropshire Council, Age Concern (Stafford and Shrewsbury), Alzheimer's (Shrewsbury), Mind (Mid-Staffs, Telford and Shrewsbury), CASS (Carers Association), Shropshire and Telford Schools, Visual Arts Network (Shrews), Shrewsbury Museums Service and Shropshire Archives, Craftspace Birmingham, Open College Network, Barchester Homes and Live Music Now. Small amount of funding have also been raised through retailers: Asda, Mid-Counties Co-operative and Waitrose.
Arts for Health were awarded the Community Wellbeing Award from West Midlands Arts, Health and Wellbeing – 2014.
Fundraising and donations
Anyone interested in supporting the work of the Trust within the Arts for Health field can donate via our Virgin Giving page: