Mindful Art Club

Current stage: Awarded


  • 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 were asked to advise you. What are your reflections? Have you gained new insight? New partners?

The advice was very helpful. We had a pretty good turn out of advisers (on Zoom) and some good questions re clarification. We are used to having to use a particular language for funding bids (eg to Arts Council) and needed to adjust the language for a wider audience. This helped us clarify and focus our purpose and with whom we would work. As a result, we are already beginning to make contact with potential collaborators.The Community feeling of involvement even at this early stage has helped to develop a sense that we are onto something that will have positive and useful outcomes. It is a wonderful feeling of being connected and also supported.