Arts for Health

With programmes running throughout the year, the Arts for Health scheme has been bringing creativity and confidence to Blackpool residents for several years.  They provide a welcoming setting for individuals to meet up, learning new skills in everything from sculpture to poetry and wood-cutting to graphic design.  Altblackpool caught up with Sarah, the scheme’s manager, and Norma, a past partcipant, to get a feel for the range of services the programme provides.
Norma attended the Back on Track programme in 2013 and was part of the group that produced a tiny world for the Wordpool Festival.  She remembers her time on the programme fondly:

My first day at Arts for Health was one of the hardest things I had done in years. I was really stressed and had not been in company for a long time, but I kept saying to myself feel the fear and do anyway.  I went to the first class and I was so nervous, but the people were very friendly and made me at ease. As the weeks went by I settled in and started to look forward to the classes, it was good to see people being creative. I enjoyed the art lessons, the artists were great with everyone, and I learned lots of new skills.

So if you’re thinking of joining a class with Art for Healths it’s worth while giving yourself a few weeks to settle in, there is no pressure the people are friendly and relaxed and you can do as much or as little as you want. Sometimes it’s just nice to be with other people. It also helped me mix with different people and I made a new friend.  We went to lunch every week after class which was great, as we had a lot in common and supported each other. I did not know anyone in Blackpool so it was nice.

I could feel my confidence come back and felt strong enough to volunteer at the Wordpool festival in Stanley park, so that was nice as I had never been there before. It was for families and children and based on ‘miniature worlds’, so I made a little music room that would hang on a tree with little faries inside and flying around the little room, which was exhibited in the park as part of the festival.

I really enjoyed making it so I decided to volunteer to deliver a workshop on the festival day. We continued the theme of fairies and drew little templates of fairies.  Kate, the artist, that was running the class printed them out, so that the children could colour in and add bits of material to make little dresses with glitter paint etc.

My daughter came with me to support and help me and we were overrun, and kept runnning out of fairies. We had a line of people cutting more templates.  It was great to see their little faces when they took their little fairies home. It was a great day and everyone enjoyed the experience.

I am no longer with the group as I have moved back to Glasgow, and I miss it, but I feel stronger and have applied for a night class in the local college. I also have plans to go back to college full time. I would not have been able to do this before the classes, so I am very grateful to Sarah and all the artists who ran the classes, it has made a difference to my life and helped me move on.

Sarah is righly proud of the service that Arts for Health provides.  She told us:
Arts for Health offers adults, elderly adults and young people creative courses to improve their wellbeing. We offer partipants a 40 week pathway of creative courses and support so they can move on to join other community groups or educational courses. We work with exciting and experienced artists to offer a creative experience that has shown to help people in improve in confidence and feel less isolated. Partipants are usually referred to the service by a mental health professional, although it is possble to self refer. If you’re interested in joining the Arts for Health service contact [email protected] to see what is available.

We were fortunate enough to work with the lovely husband and wife team Bonkers Clutterbucks, which resulted in an installation at Stanley Park as part of the Wordpool festival in July 2013. We explored ideas of small worlds inspired by classic tales such as Gullivers Travels, Alice in Wonderland and The Borrowers. Participants used simple everyday materials and found objects inventively to create imaginary dwellings, modes of transport and plan to look at characters large and small.



For more information on Arts for Health, visit the blog.

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