Note: Mindful Art Club was awarded POP Collectives funding in July 2021 and June 2022.
- Mindful Art Club
- Real Ideas Organisation
- Marbles Lost and Found
- Elder Tree Befriending
- Sunflower Centre
Collective’s aims and ideas
The issues that we are trying to tackle are social isolation and mental health issues in Plymouth. People leave our groups describing a warm, supportive feeling, and say they feel validated, listened to, relaxed, happier and calmer. At its simplest, our aim is to get people together to be creative. We have extensive knowledge of working with vulnerable people through our previous jobs at Broadreach-a rehab centre in Plymouth. We believe that everyone of us is creative, and we want to give people from marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to enjoy art, and become more involved in their local community. Each session will last for an hour and a half, and consists of a check-in to say how everyone is feeling, 10 minutes of guided mindfulness, 5 minutes of Mindful drawing (which is drawing with your eyes closed) and then a simple art project that anyone can do. Our groups are not about being good at art. We use creativity because there is a lot of research papers saying that being creative with other people is the best thing for mental health. Its about sitting round a table having conversations while being involved in the creative process. We call this being in the “flow,” where we can forget about everything else that is going on in our lives. Evidence shows that mindfulness and art decrease anxiety and stress, increase happiness , improve sleep, boost the immune system and confidence. We want people who are struggling to be able to access our groups immediately, with no waiting lists and without finances being a barrier. Our groups are about meeting new people, being in a supportive group, learning new skills, building confidence, having fun and feeling the benefits of being creative. When people feel happier and connected to each other, it has a ripple effect into the community. We want to help people break the cycles of low self-esteem, social isolation, and mental health problems by giving our participants on-going support, and signposting them to other agencies that can help. Our project is particularly important right now because of the effects of Covid-19. Mental health services were already overstretched before the pandemic, and now cannot keep up. Our participants have seen the services they rely on being reduced, or stopped altogether. Everyone is looking for new ways to connect, and our feedback proves that groups like ours are desperately needed right now.
Kerry, who comes to our groups twice a week writes” I have suffered from severe anxiety and depression since the age of 15. I have tried loads of things, but Mindful Art Club has been the most helpful thing for me. It is extremely calm and welcoming, and always makes me feel better. The art and mindfulness are very relaxing, but what really helps is the talking about how I am feeling, and the new friends I have made. I feel empowered at times to know I can help others, as I see my former self in a lot of the women that I meet”
How will they work together to achieve this?
Emma Sprawson-I have spent years working with vulnerable people at Broadreach,so am very aware of the mental health challenges and issues that the people coming to our groups are going through. I have my own lived in mental heath experience, and am passionate about giving back to my community. I have got a degree in art and an MA in illustration from St Martins. When I was at Broadreach I delivered classes in art and mindfulness for 10 years. I have also done a lot of mental health training, and have a 704 teaching qualification.
Peggy Melmoth – Peggy is doing her level 4 in counselling at the moment,so will be a qualified counsellor by the Summer. We met when we were working together at Broadreach, and she is also got lived in mental health experience and is passionate about supporting people. She has a degree in art ,writes blogs about living on a narrow boat, and has very good IT skills.
Nicky Nurrish-Marbles Lost and Found-Nicky is someone who I have recently met, and is on the same journey as me with what she is trying to achieve in Plymouth. We are going to join forces so we can reach a larger audience and help more people. Nicky has bi-polar and started her group so she could help people and signpost them to other agencies. Mindful Art Club are going to be doing some sessions with her, and we will be referring our clients to her groups.
Carole Hickling- Carole runs Elder Tree Befriending ,which supports over 1000 people in Plymouth .Its aim is to prevent lonliness and support socially isolated older people. We are forming a partnership to set up some Mindful Art days in the Summer to support her clients and provide a fun day of mindfulness, art and food.
Lee Squires-Lee is a previous participant of our groups, but now volunteers for us. He is in recovery, and has lived in mental health experience. He is from a Romany gypsy background, and didn’t learn to read and write until he was in his thirties. Since then he has been to art college and exhibited with David Bailey. He is also a qualified yoga and Qi Gong instructor.
Tam Fowles- I am involved in a art project with Tam to do with peoples experiences of mental health services. I did the 6 week course myself, and now Tam is coming to our Mindful Art Groups in the community to let our clients know about it, and provide us with art materials. There will be an exhibition in May at Ocean Studios of everybody’s work.
Nabeel Mirza- Nabs is manager of the Shekinah, and we have known him for years through our previous jobs at Broadreach. We are working together on a Mindful Art Project for the homeless at Shekinah. He is very committed to helping people make changes in their lives for a better future.
Paula Carnell-Paula is manager of the Sunflower Centre, which offers support to vulnerable women. We have known each other for years ,as Paula used to run an art gallery where I exhibited my paintings. We are working together at Sunflower to improve the women’s lives, and help them connect with each other and form friendships.
Evaluation-We would like to know about other forms of evaluation
Other places where we could hold Mindful Art Club , and other organisations we could collaborate with