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In 2016 Leeds & York Partnership NHS Trust services were invited to bid for an Arts and Minds grant, and five were awarded. Here’s a glimpse into the range of exciting creative projects they ran:

Professional artist Irene Lofthouse worked with patients and staff from wards 3 and 4 to help them connect with the Mount’s beautiful sensory garden, using its herbs as source material for this project. Participants used myths, stories, and poems to explore the folklore of herbs and their cosmetic, cooking, medicinal and magical uses. They also drew on their own reminiscences of associated with herbs, to inspire their own story, poetry, or drawing. Herbs were also harvested for their taste, texture, scent as inspiration and incorporation into craft creations such as plant pots, coasters, or pomanders. Participants shaped the sessions through their input via stories, anecdotes, reminiscences and contributions.
“I enjoyed actually making something, looking at it and knowing I’ve done that.”

The Becklin Centre’s grant enabled them to develop a photography project with patients and staff involved with the Healthy Living Service (HLS). The Health Walk group had been run by HLS for a number of years, but this project created opportunities for participants to interact with the environment in order to stimulate creativity and explore their identity outside of hospital. Service users who access the existing Health Walks helped in the development of the project, and told HLS that they were keen to learn about the settings that they walked in, and to learn more about the local wildlife, plants and trees. Whilst on the walks, participants had the opportunity to use photography to capture inspiration from the local environment. Artwork created from the project will be exhibited in the main foyer area of the Becklin Centre.
“It improved my confidence.”

Clifton House worked with professional graffiti artists from Connecting Youth Culture (CYC) to help them create a graffiti mural on the meeting area between the male and female wards where the patients meet for shared groups and activities. This space was currently impersonal, but this project helped it to develop an identity as a space
for creativity where patients can feel comfortable getting to know each other. Participants liaised directly with the graffiti artists to determine the concept and design. Preparatory sessions included research sessions, and a slide show event exploring the different types of graffiti and expression. They were also trained in graffiti paint techniques in order to create a professionally finished artwork.
Participants had the opportunity to learn a skill which they can pass on to other patients who come through the service, and speak about their experience of the project at regional service user involvement meetings. Patients at Clifton House said: ‘it was cathartic’..’helped me gain new skills’, ‘express myself visually’, ‘it allowed us to own and transform an impersonal space’. ’, ‘it gave us time outside’ ‘it linked us up to the community’.
“I was able to do something that will be seen and remembered by other people”

St.Marys House’s grant enabled them to work with professional artist Agnes Smallwood. She worked with patients and staff from the community mental health team (CMHT), and Intensive Community Support (ICS), to help them create artworks based on a range of weaving techniques.
Participants explored the theme of identity through individual and group discussions. They developed these ideas into designs using mixed media. The project helped participants gain the confidence to try new things; learn new skills; reduced social isolation; improved wellbeing; promoted relaxation; and provided peer group support.
Mandy Williams, project lead/CMHT support worker, says “service users really enjoyed working with a professional artist. The work produced also really helped make the entrance to our unit a more welcoming and warm environment for everyone.”
“It was calming. Helped me to relax and focus my mind and got me out of a rut.”

Patients and staff from the Recovery and Rehabilitation Service at Asket Croft worked with professional arts company Seagulls to create mosaic artworks. The project gave participants the opportunity to create an individual piece that they took with them on discharge, and a collaborative group piece for display in the unit.
Seagulls run an open community group at their base, and participants were encouraged to attend there following discharge. The equipment purchased also enabled future mosaic sessions to be facilitated at the Asket site by LYPFT staff. The theme of identity was explored through discussions around what is meaningful and important to the participants in their lives, which was then expressed in the artwork.
Service users benefitted in a variety of ways, including: learning the practical skills of planning an art project; improved social skills from working as part of a team; increased confidence and self-esteem from engaging in the project; and learning new creative skills.