Workshops: The Art of Recovery
The Alchemy Project
Carly Annable-Coop, Project Director
Dance as part of an integrated recovery model in early intervention in
The Alchemy Project is pioneering an intensive model of dance intervention,
working with young adults accessing Early Intervention in Psychosis Services
through the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM).
Following a successful pilot project trialled in 2013. As part of a co-produced
action research project, the project delivered two intensive, four-week dance
interventions in 2015, culminating in two groups of 18 participants showing a
professionally produced performance to an audience of stakeholders, family
and friends. The interventions have been independently evaluated by public
health consultants Optimity Matrix. The research so far demonstrates that the
intervention delivers clinically significant results in the wellbeing of
art form(s) used: Intensive dance intervention – contemporary dance
people who are targeted to take part in the programme: Young adults (18 – 35
years) accessing early intervention in psychosis services through South
London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM)
setting of the work (e.g. community or hospital setting): In the community
Verd de Gris
We develop and deliver a range of art projects with people from across the North
West of England, specifically: inter-generational projects; health and well-being work;
cross-community projects to increase levels of understanding and tolerance about
race, culture and ethnicity.
When we began we worked primarily on projects about social history, usually
reminiscence projects - looking at changes to the built environment and how that
impacted on the lives of local people.
Our work evolved significantly, mainly because of the honesty and integrity of our
approach. Our project work resulted in deep and sometimes profound relationships
being formed - a by-product of the creative process? Perhaps, but this is why the
arts are such an effective tool in social engagement. Our creative approach led to
the uncovering of numerous instances of poor mental health, social isolation, health /
social inequality. And so 15 years of commissioning opportunities, project
development followed …
Currently work is funded on a project-to-project basis. Over the past 15 years we
have worked to establish a reputation for powerful and innovative project work in
mental health, working with various delivery partners and attracting funding from a
range of grant-makers, trusts and foundations.
How connected to commissioning are you and how has this come about.
verd de gris has a good relationship with some local funders / commissioners in
health: Community Foundation for Calderdale (who deliver small grants programme
for Calderdale CCG, and with South West Yorks NHS Mental Health Trust through
their Creative Minds programme). These funders currently support our regular
creative sessions for local people living with dementia.
However ‘arts in health’ commissioning in Calderdale is piecemeal, relying very
much on ‘individuals’ rather than any ‘strategic’ approach. We have very little contact
with commissioners and there is little or no ‘co-production’ - the application process
is very much about responding to what commissioners want rather than working
together to find the best solutions. This means that in an area where ‘the arts’ are not
championed or experienced by commissioners we are often forced to seek
alternative ways of funding our arts & health project work.
We have applied to Calderdale CCG a couple of times to try and ‘scale up’ our
participatory work but without success - in fact they have been quite dismissive of
What was the starting point for the recovery work?
Our current project is ‘Behind the Mask’ - a recovery programme for local women
delivered with the support of Women Centre Calderdale.
In 2014 Kashif Ahmed, a mental health commissioners recognised the need to find
alternative ways to reaching out to young Asian women in Calderdale. Working with
Halifax Opportunities Trust verd de gris targeted young and middle-aged women
from the Muslim community to learn more about issues that impact on their mental
health and sense of ‘well-being’. We developed activities that helped boost
confidence and self-esteem and offered coping mechanisms to help them in their
The feedback from this very successful project that showed just how effective the
arts can be - young women who had never spoken publicly before performed on
stage with local schoolchildren to over 150 invited guests, reading testimonials
highlighting the issues that concerned them and how they had used the arts to take
control of their lives.
What does the recovery work offer and how does this work in practice (how
long are people involved, how are they referred, how is their progress
assessed, what happens afterwards?)
The 2014 work with Kashif led to repeat funding and the establishment of a year-long
recovery programme of activities for both Muslim and women from the wider
In devising this new project we met with representatives from local support agencies,
community health development workers, school head-teachers and educational
support workers, as well as working closely with our key delivery partners (Women
Centre). We wanted to offer referrals to a range of local agencies.
The cross-community aspect is also a powerful element in the success of the project:
“Getting together with other women from different communities with different
personalities builds my confidence.”
Over the course of the year we ran 3 x groups of approx. 12 women per group. The
course runs for 14-weeks. We take regular feedback from the groups and develop
personal targets with key workers and the women themselves.
Women are also encouraged to record the process themselves and their
experiences on the course: through photography, creative writing, blogging etc. With
consent this is then circulated to the wider community through social media /
exhibitions and displays / talks and events.
How does the recovery work fit with the wider work of your organisation?
One of our key aims is to bring ‘the arts’ to people who wouldn’t normally consider
getting involved in creative project work. We are keen to change people’s lives
through the power art has to connect - empowering young and old to ‘find their voice’
and take control of issues and concerns in their lives.
We believe that The Arts mean more to local people than heritage and tourism - it
can change lives give people a better future.
Because our combined arts methodology lends itself to a multiplicity of situations /
working environments, this recovery model mirrors much of the other sessional work
we deliver. Participants regularly ‘cross-over’ into other sessional work - e.g. a
participant from thus recovery work has been employed as a photographer on
another vdg commissioned project.
How does the relationship with commissioners work – what works well and
what could be better.
Our aim on this project was to open up a debate / discussion around issues and
concerns affecting women in 2015. This includes ways to encourage our participants
to look at personal / cultural identity; career opportunities; barriers to achievement /
personal growth and self-esteem.
We were able to raise the profile of ‘arts in health’ recovery work with a number of
local partners e.g. Women Centre, Homestart Calderdale, Halifax Opportunities
Trust - giving them insight into the efficacy of creative interventions like this.
However we have made little progress with health commissioners, who remain
distant and ‘unreachable’.
One of the biggest problems when applying creative arts approaches / interventions
in Calderdale is the historical lack of strategic arts development work across the
borough. This means that very few commissioners or social agencies have any
experience of being involved in thematic, community-wide initiatives that attempt to
address particular social or ‘health’ issue using ‘the arts’.
This means that it is very difficult to get delivery agencies / commissioners on board
(or to come and see the work and its impact ‘in action’). The creative arts are seen,
by and large, as merely ‘diversionary’ … providing “distraction” and / or
What advice would you give to other organisations interested in building their
capacity to do this type of work?
I feel we are witnessing a shift to centralisation of support to large regional / national
organisations. This has led to smaller amounts of funding / fewer opportunities being
available to grassroots organisations like ourselves .. organisations who have built
up relationships and specialisms that are being overlooked. Small companies like
verd de gris are creative, responsive and flexible and can offer much to communities
… there needs to be a much greater appreciation and understanding of the impact
Smaller organisations need to keep believing in themselves and make the case for
the special qualities and relationships they can bring to the health sector.
Kirklees Council Community Partnership
Kirklees Council Community Partnerships supports hundreds of community-based
projects each year, including many with a mental health and/or community arts focus
- including music, singing, drama, craft, film-making and more. Our development and
'micro commissioning' approach aims to create a diverse and vibrant range of
community 'prevention' activities in Kirklees, so people can get involved in activities
they enjoy, that support their health and well-being, keep them independent, and
reduce or prevent their need for support from statutory services. Community
Partnerships manager Fiona Weir will lead a discussion about the range of activities
on offer, the people who take part, and the potential benefits for individuals,
community organisations and commissioners alike.
Journeys of Appreciation
Name of organisation: South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
name of programme: Journeys of Appreciation Programme (JOAP), an
innovative cultural programme funded by the Maudsley Charity, with partner
museums and galleries: The Cinema Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery,
Horniman Museum and Gardens and Tate Britain and Modern - engaging
older adult inpatients with mental health problems and dementia, carers and
name of workshop presenters: Helen Shearn, Head of Arts Strategy
focus of work: promoting recovery and wellbeing, supporting the “Continuing
to be me,” self-confidence and relationship building and developing the
integration and impact of the arts
art form(s) used: engaging with museum and gallery collections, objects
handling and discussion, and creative activities and life story work on the
people who are targeted to take part in the programme: older adult inpatients
with mental health problems and dementia, carers and staff
setting of the work (e.g. community or hospital setting). Visits and facilitated
participative workshops to the museums and galleries and extending the
experience to the hospital and special care units
Further information: https://museumsandwellbeingalliance.wordpress.com/case-
Bibliotherapy: Kirklees Council
Bibliotherapy is the use of fiction and poetry to support and increase positive
outcomes for people with mental health and well being issues. Kirklees Libraries and
Information Centres have been working in this field in Britain since 2000. We work in
partnership with our local health providers, charities and social care organisations,
delivering sessions in settings such as acute psychiatric admission wards, dementia
care wards, day centres, dementia cafes, rehabilitation centres, stroke association
meetings, alcohol and drug addiction centres and care homes. There is no formal
referral process so people can self refer or be referred by a health professional or
Creative Minds: Richard Coaten, Vicky Brenan, Phil Walters
Creative Minds is all about the use of creative approaches and activities in
healthcare; increasing self-esteem, providing a sense of purpose, developing
social skills, helping community integration and improving quality of life. We develop
community partnerships to not only co-fund but also co-deliver projects for local
people. Since its launch in November 2011 Creative Minds has delivered more than
150 creative projects in partnership with over 50 community organisations. This has
benefited over 4000 people.
Cartwheel Arts promotes social inclusion, cohesion, diversity and regeneration
through community participation in vibrant, innovative, high-quality arts projects. We
use a wide range of media to initiate, and respond to, project opportunities in
Rochdale and surrounding areas, as well as promoting the development of the arts
and examples of good practice across the North West.
Cartwheel has over 20 years experience of promoting imaginative, and often
challenging arts projects - we do not shy from confronting difficult or sensitive
issues. Our focus is on participation, enabling people who may have had little
experience of the arts to explore and develop their creativity and talents, generating
a sense of ownership and pride.
We receive annual funding from Link4Life, Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust.
Our flagship project Tell Us Another One is funded for three years by Big Lottery
Fund Reaching Communities and Arts Council England, and in year one by