Mindful Art Club


  • Mindful Art Club
  • Real Ideas Organisation

Collective’s aims and ideas

The issues we are trying to tackle are social isolation and mental health problems. Mindful Art Club offers low cost sessions of coffee, creativity and company online and in community venues like community centres, wellbeing hubs and cafes. It was started by me and Peggy Melmoth when we got made redundant from Broadreach, an addiction rehabilitation centre in Plymouth. We have extensive knowledge of mental health issues, both from our own experience and from working with clients at Broadreach. What we want to achieve is to bring people together in a shared, creative experience. People leave our groups describing a warm, supportive feeling and say they feel validated, listened to, relaxed, happier and calmer. Our mission is to improve mental health and social connection in Plymouth, in a low-cost, fun creative way. Each session lasts for an hour and a half, and offers
Peer support
Guided mindfulness
A mindful drawing exercise(which is drawing with your eyes closed to free you from judgement)
And a simple art project that anyone can do
As well as verbal feedback in a ‘check out’ at the end of each session, we collect evidence of improved mood, and social connection using written feedback forms. We also teach new skills, such as using mindfulness and art for self-care
Mental health services were already overstretched and the pandemic has made everything much worse. Mindful Art Club gives people a way to access help and support immediately, without a waiting list, and without finances being a barrier to access.
Peggy and I are helping to create a world where peer support, mindfulness, creative activities, and social connection is more easily available in local communities.
So, Mindful Art Club offers community groups and well-being courses supporting mental health through creativity and social connection. It’s about managing stress and loneliness in a creative way. Our groups give people the opportunity to share their feelings, practice mindfulness, create art, relax and chat
“The virus has made it feel like the ground has been swept from beneath my feet. I am left wobbling and uncertain of how to feel grounded. Fortunately Mindful Art has gone online and they are working really hard to provide us with twice weekly mindfulness and art sessions it is such an important part of my week. My family are away from me, I can’t attend any groups and my psychiatrist has just discharged me, leaving me with no support in place. I love the art section of the session and am learning how regular mindfulness can calm my anxiety. Emma and Peggy are giving me, and possibly everyone who logs in, time for self-awareness and to gain support from others. It is something I look forward to, and leave feeling connected and supported’-Shona who attends our groups

How will they work together to achieve this?

We will work together to achieve this as we all have a shared vision of how we want our communities to look, have a passion for helping people and different skills and experiences. We know each other well and our aware of our different skills and weaknesses.

Peggy Melmoth: My business partner. Peggy is my business partner and we met when we were both working at Broadreach. She has had her own business for years doing art commissions and blogging about narrow boats. Therefore, she is experienced in advertising, website design and social media. At the moment she is doing her level 4 in counselling so will be a qualified counsellor in a year. She also has a degree in art. She is a great person to work with as she really cares about people and are different skill sets match each other
Lee Squires: Our volunteer. He is from a Romany gypsy background and didn’t learn to read or write until he was in his thirties. Since then he has been to art college and has exhibited in London with David Bailey and Anna Marie Pachenker. He is a qualified yoga, tai chi and wing tsune teacher and is very involved in the local community
Clare Lattimore: One of our trustees and was with us when we started MAC. She is now working for Livewell and part of her job description at work is to be Livewell link worker for MAC
Janet Parfitt: A retired nurse and one of our regular participants. She says that MAC has been a life saver in lockdown for her mental health and to stay connected with people
Paula Carell: Deputy manager at Sunflower centre for women and is a big supporter of ours. We used to work together at Broadreach and she used to run a art gallery where I exhibited my paintings. We have been running classes at the Sunflower for the past year.
Emma Sprawson: I have a degree in art, a teaching qualification and extensive knowledge of mental health issues. I am very committed to helping people in the community
Andy Stuart: Works for RIO and has been helping us with budgets, business advice and ways to take our business forward

During the first round, POP members will be asked to advise you. What advice would be most helpful?

Marketing advice. Ways to reach vulnerable people in the community who might not necessarily be online

Visual Arts Plymouth


  • Visuals Arts Plymouth

Collective’s aims and ideas

After 6 successful years of producing the Plymouth Art Weekender (PAW), including making it happen in 2020 under Covid-19 restrictions, Visual Arts Plymouth CIC wants to take the Weekender (PAW) in new directions. PAW is a city-wide celebration of mostly visual arts (including sound, performance, workshops, etc). Consolidating all that we have learned so far, in order to continue we want to create a supported platform for developing the city’s creatives. Annual evaluation has made it clear that a core strength of PAW is the opportunity it offers to grass roots artists at all stages of their career in a way that isn’t offered elsewhere. Through another two years of year-round programming we want to build on this, and create a space for VAP CIC and PAW to situate themselves as sustainable and beneficial entities in the city.

Our main objectives would be to help make Plymouth a place where: creatives can survive and thrive (talent and enterprise development); there is city-wide and community based arts activity and exchange; wide access to resources and opportunities; and wide inclusion and participation; and events, showcases and activities contributing to a vibrant arts scene. These outcomes will contribute to professional development, education, economy, social and cultural inclusion. and wellbeing.

Specifically, we would like to use the funds for:
– Identifying/consulting/researching arts (and other) groups in Plymouth as to what they would like to see/what they can contribute to VAP programs, including PAW.
– Researching and developing new structures for our management and activities, sustainable models and networks (and mapping these to the Plymouth Culture Strategy and objectives of other relevant groups, including POP+)

The issues we specifically want to tackle are:
– diversifying and extending engagement with VAP, and reaching out to individuals, groups and communities that may previously not have seen PAW as for them, through outreach efforts and network building.
– reimagining and strengthening our organisational structure, which is currently entirely volunteer run. We need to broaden the skills and knowledge in our strategic leadership and find ways of compensating volunteers so we can be sustainable.

The funding from this project will have a measurable impact on VAP activities in 2021 – 22 and beyond, with great potential to benefit the wider arts community in Plymouth.

The funding will be used to pay for a VAP coordinator’s time with a focus on researching and implementing management structure and new directions for PAW; a consultation/research role to work with potential collaborators to develop participation and programmes; and funds to support networking and development events (subject to Covid restrictions, but anticipated to be possible in the autumn). These roles will work in tandem to achieve the objectives.

How will they work together to achieve this?

The initial applicants for this bid are the current Directors of VAP CIC, and have worked together for 5 years. We are working together as we have a shared ambition to build on and extend VAP successes and a strong, inclusive ‘arts ecology’ in Plymouth. Additionally, 3 members of VAP strategy group have agreed to support this work.

Dr Lucy Davies (VAP, North Star Study Group)I have extensive event & project/programme management skills ranging from international conferences to small scale gigs, plus public talks, research projects, bid writing, installations & talent development/festival management with VAP. I also have experience of software product management/development, using Agile project management & line management of a development team based remotely. As a HE specialist I have considerable experience in evaluating impact and outcomes from research & engagement activity, and providing training, embedding culture change & understanding of the HE policy and funding landscape. I also have excellent presentation skills, am a confident user of Microsoft Office/Google Suite, plus other project management tools and CMS for the web. I have coding skills in Matlab, Programming, Javascript and am an occasional AV artist and musician. I also love networking and art ligging

Rhys Morgan (VAP, CAMP, TAKE A PART)

Add your strengths and skills
Rhys has a rage of skills and experience in the planning and delivering of arts and community engagement projects in Plymouth. Working as a producer for creative projects like the Plymouth Art Weekender as well as being Take A Part’s Community Realm Producer helping deliver art projects in the community of Coxside. He has good skills at establishing and developing partnerships with other organisations and institutions, and managing partnership relationships.Ellen Sims (VAP, CAMP, PSEN, Wordzoo)

Ellen has many years experience of community based research and organising and delivering training and evaluation in educational, professional and community settings in the arts. She is an active networker and does a range of volunteer work beyond the arts as well as being a Director of VAP, which has led to making many connections that will benefit this project. She is an artist with interests in social issues and education. Good interpersonal and communication skills, naturally nosy and perennially positive.

All of us have diversity, confidentiality, GDPR and Digital skills and knowledge.
Also supporting are:
Dr Stephen Felmingham, Educator, PCA. VAP Activator
Katy Richardson, educator (University of Plymouth) artist and CAMP officer. PAW Marketing Coordinator.VAP Activator
Lucy Rollins, producer and artist. VAP, CAMP, Pollenize. PAW coordinator/producer. Project management. VAP Activator
NB: VAP is a member of POP and PSEN. VAP members represent CAMP, RIO, Nudge, Take A Part, Plymouth Culture, PCA and Marjons, who may be called upon to support this work. We have a track record of working in partnership with these and many other organisations in Plymouth.

What advice are they asking for?

Which POP and other groups should we have conversations with? How many, given the timeframe and budget?Any successful examples of diversifying and management we can be pointed to as starting points?
What support might we get with eg developing and publicising online surveys?
Any training recommended, eg managing volunteer organisations?

Big Sis Girl Empowerment Collective


  • Big Sis CIC
  • Nature & Me
  • The Nest Southwest CIC

Collective’s aims and ideas

The issue:

In our community work we have noticed that the biggest crisis of confidence occurs between year 5-7 as the transition from primary into secondary school is huge. By working with young girls between the ages of 8-12 on the areas of emotional literacy and menstrual education, we have witnessed the positive effects of this work in the girls self-confidence, emotional awareness, body knowledge and healthy body image, which have proven to ease the puberty transition period. Statistics also show us that pre-pubescent girls are particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges like anxiety, depression and self-harm. It has also been shown that puberty experiences, such as menstruation, and a lack of feeling prepared, contributes to these mental health challenges. Pre-puberty is a crucial time in a young persons’ life that needs to be supported!

What we will do:
We train female students studying in education related subjects to provide mentoring and support to these girls. We plan to deliver our near-peer Mentoring Programme for Plymouth’ primary and secondary schools free of charge once it is safe to do so. Our workshops offer valuable support that is in line with the PHSE curriculum guidelines. We provide interactive education on crucial issues such as body literacy, emotional literacy skills, and
accessible and sustainable menstrual cycle education. The young girls benefit from the knowledge and experience of their Big Sis mentor whilst learning new skills in an informal and safe space in school. This reduces the uncertainty, fears and anxiety that arise for many young girls as they enter puberty and strengthen girl to girl bonds. Our volunteers will also be trained to deal with any problems they are confronted with and receive ongoing support from our expert team. They are recruited through local educational institutions, receive a comprehensive training in facilitation, safeguarding children, special needs, etc.

The Mentoring Programme consist of 4 Modules:
Module 1: Body Image and Positive Self Regard
Module 2: Puberty Changes/The Menstrual Cycle
Module 3: Mindset and Emotions
Module 4: Communication

We include fun, interactive games, stories, quizzes, creative activities, demonstrations and discussions. An anonymous question and answer box is a key aspect of every session and have proven to be highly effective in supporting pupils’ needs.

Aims for our primary beneficiaries: girls aged 8-12:
– Strengthen self confidence and resilience (with a focus on Year 6 and 7)
– Offer valuable support and interactive education on crucial issues related to growing up
especially by prioritizing schools in vulnerable areas of Plymouth and the South Hams
– Reduce stress and anxiety for school girls
– Enhance cognitive and psycho-motor development
– Improve learning performance in school

Our primary beneficiaries are girls aged 8-12, however we chose a near-per learning format to support and strengthen the career development and learning journey of young students.

Our aims for students:
– Create local opportunities for young women and female identified students
– Preparation for their future careers: Learn new skills as a mentor, being actively involved facilitating and reflecting the mentoring sessions
– Build confidence and trust in working with young people

With the Pop funding available we’d like to strengthen the support for our young student volunteers, which we value as crucial. Funding will be spent on improving the learning experience during their facilitator training. We also want to allocate mentors to our volunteers that accompany their learning journey and serve as a check-in point during the facilitator training and the delivery of the programme in schools.

How will they work together to achieve this?

We are a interdisciplinary collective of individuals from different areas of expertise that came together with the shared vision to change the story for the next generation. We believe that by working together we can stretch the impact we can have on our beneficiaries in the community, learn from each other, and bring this learning to related projects.

In our team we assemble independent consultants, educators, social workers, marketeers, communicators and networkers, who work on the creation of the Girl Mentoring Programme as well as the exciting challenge on bringing it to the attention of universities, local primary and secondary schools and the wider public.

Our Team:
Hazel from the ‘NestSouthWest CIC’ and Victoria from ‘Nature and Me’: Bring their expertise of working with women and girls, specifically in the areas of menstrual education. They know what it takes to create and facilitate a safe and nurturing space for different age groups.
Friedel: Is the founder of Big Sis CIC, educator, networker and curator. She brings in different elements from her intercultural work in culture, the arts and education projects.
Clare: Looks back on a career of working with people in social work and community projects. She’s an amazing listener and communicator.
Angelika: Is a Plymouth based Marketing ace that makes content look beautiful and approachable. She likes to collaborate with social enterprises.
Harriett: Is a movement psychotherapy student. She brings attention to detail and great question asking. She makes sure that we are never short of inspiration of movement and embodiment approaches in our work.

Some of us have worked together previously in education projects, some collaborations are new and exciting. Each of us brings their own flavor and input to the Programme which makes it a diverse, well communicated group project, that is being looked at from different angles.

During the first round, POP members were asked to advise you. Tell us what happened. What are your reflections? Have you gained new insight? New partners?

The team had some great insight about the possibilities and ways of communication with local schools especially and the internal workings of multi academy trusts and their needs. The advise session helped us to network further in Plymouth, meet some great people working with children and wellbeing and gain some insight who can potentially provide part of our training locally, including LGBTQ+ awareness (by PLYMOUTH PRIDE) and SEND needs, which is really helpful. Diverse verbal and written advise and comments were helpful to not only improve our proposal, but to confirm our aims and the exact experience that we are offering more comprehensively. Altogether it helped us to be really clear about our service offer with all it’s layers.think it’s extremely important to consider the needs of LGBTQ+ folk and people with SEND needs. We could need some advise around how to navigate these questions.