Messages from the HeARTlands

Current stage: Awarded


· Hope in the Heart CIC

· The Intersection

· Real Ideas Organisation


Briefly describe your project

The recent Messages from the Heart pilot exhibition and events gave a voice to people with lived experience of mental health and associated issues, empowering many and informing, educating and moving more.

Building on this, our project will bring marginalised people together to share their stories, and messages they’d like to express to people in power. As well as utilising the wonderful venues offered by Real Ideas, we’ll take workshops, exhibitions and events to specific areas of Plymouth, working with marginalised individuals, community groups and local leaders to amplify local voices and ensure that they are heard and validated.


Describe what you hope your Collective will achieve

Our collective aims to employ a sessional worker (*Zoe Copeland – see below) to build upon the positive achievements of our pilot earlier this year (

Participants requested we continue a project wherein they felt heard, valued, and part of a community working towards something vital.

This will be an “offshoot” of the Messages from the HeART exhibition project that launched in Plymouth in May and finished in June, although it is continuing in different parts of the UK. It will allow us to continue the momentum built locally and connect Plymouth participants with others across the UK.

Taking place over approximately nine months, diverse community workshops will lead to three exhibitions, each including a performance evening and a “gathering” for lived experience participants and people in power (service-providers, commissioners, leaders etc.) to communicate in equity and empathy.

We’ll collaborate with diverse local organisations and leaders, many of whom engaged with our pilot project and are keen to support/benefit from this next stage.

Previous project participants will attend workshops and be involved in the planning, organisation and/or facilitation of workshops/courses that engage new members, inspiring them to share and celebrate their lived experience in an safe, respectful, compassionate environment. Once confidence has been raised and a sense of belonging nurtured, participants will identify messages they would like to send to people in power and create pieces of art/writing/performance that express these. Participants will be invited/supported to take part in the organisation/facilitation of exhibitions and events and encouraged to learn new skills including creative techniques, curation, co-facilitation, public speaking, performance, interviewing, administration, digital skills, photography and film-making.

Some volunteers will be paid as sessional workers from a previous pot of funding.

Intended achievements:


1 Participants will have improved confidence, a sense of community and belonging, and a new skillset to improve employment and education prospects. They will experience themselves as “social activists”, empowered by the immediate positive responses to their actions.

2 Participants will broaden their horizons through online workshops with other LEx artists and performers in other parts of the UK, creating lasting friendships and feeling part of a broader community of like-minded people experiencing similar issues and feelings. They will be encouraged to visit and perform at exhibitions in other areas.

3 Powerful messages from participating artists and performers will be heard and heeded by the services /leaders/communities to whom they are aimed. Those receiving and hearing the messages will be informed, educated and motivated towards positive change as a result.

4 Participants, relevant services and leaders will have a unique opportunity to unite in empathy, respect and common humanity, exploring the content of the featured messages and considering together how positive change can take place in Plymouth.

5 Organisations and local leaders will form lasting connections and collaborations through networking opportunities and events that bring them together in a unique way.

5 We will amass a valuable resource of deeply meaningful art and writing to be used for many years to come.


Describe how your Collective formed

Hope in the Heart ( and Real Ideas ( have collaborated for several years, becoming partners for the Messages from the Heart launch in May. (Hope in the Heart is leading an ongoing project – see earlier link – funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, and was initially intending the pilot to be a stand-alone in Plymouth, subsequently moving on to other areas of the UK.)

Real Ideas provided (and will continue to provide) mentoring, hosting, marketing, venue space, equipment/resources and practical support for workshops leading up to the exhibition and during the exhibition and associated events.

This partnership was strengthened as both organisations worked more closely throughout the build-up and during the exhibition itself, and the very clear need for a continuing project in Plymouth emerged, becoming the driving force behind this bid.

Zoe Copeland, founder of The Intersection (, was a committed and essential contributor to the pilot project, initially leading courses to encourage and inspire artist-participants through Devon Mind (also a HITH partner) for whom they worked at that time, and later additionally contributing new diversity-related services, creative skills and vision (to be built upon during this project) while developing The Intersection.

The Intersection will further enrich this project by supporting the wellness and spirituality of people who face disadvantages and want to become empowered in their lives.

Our three organisations worked well together, and we were all excited by the extremely positive outcomes of the pilot. Feedback from participating artists showed an often remarkable improvement in self-worth, social connection, community

engagement and sense of purpose and 100% said they wanted the Plymouth part of the project to continue.

Feedback from visitors and collaborators in associated events reported they were moved, often experiencing a shift in themselves regarding their own challenges.


Which collaboration “shape” do you expect will best describe your project?

HUB AND SPOKE – Like a bike wheel, one organisation holds things together at the centre, while other organisations perform specific tasks


In which areas would you expect most of your grant to be spent?

Core Funding / Time