This event brought together a wonderful mix of people who have been involved in projects funded through LWMA in Wythenshawe with experience and expertise in a range of arts, health and wellbeing areas including, housing, health development, social prescribing and local arts and voluntary sector organisations.
The afternoon focused initially around findings from the Informal Exchange Consultation Report (LWMA) and a journaling project Creating Connections (MCC), developed to counter health priorities of loneliness and isolation, exacerbated by the pandemic and subsequent lock downs and to connect diverse arts organisations through a menu of activities.
Two of the local arts organisations told us about the work they do in local communities - String of Hearts which is a community arts organisation connecting older adults through music, established in 2019 by Lucy Geddes and Amina Hussain offer group sessions, music phone calls, recordings and showcase events. Lucy and Roy, who is one of the members who joined after moving to the area on his own during covid, recounted their initial socially distanced meeting through a window at Roy’s sheltered housing and his journey from despair and bereavement to rediscovering his poetic nature and love of music, which he proclaimed has absolutely boosted his wellbeing and mental health.
Dr Stephen Evans who is the lead project developer at Together One CIC talked us through the ‘Creative Wells’ offer that he and his team have developed which includes, creative writing, spoken word, film and mindful walks both in person and on-line, as well as a cinema and film club.
From a practical fundraising standpoint Stephen explained how he uses 5 Ways to Wellbeing as the basis of this work and how this is woven through funding applications and also very eloquently included the evaluation processes that have been developed alongside. Not an easy task to keep an audience interested in, but he managed it!
Moving this work forward are a number of drivers coming from the consultation -
How to build on the arts, health and wellbeing assets that already exist in Wythenshawe and what actions can local health, arts and vcse sector groups take either independently or together and what support might be needed to do this?
There is also a question around training and professional development which encompasses both the messaging and promotion of arts and culture as beneficial to wellbeing and also the skills development needed to equip artists, vcse sector organisations and health professionals with the tools they need to safely and effectively develop the sector with adequate funding, commissioning and protocols in place.
In the room there was a definite feeling of the importance of networks and information sharing, as well as more information and training for the voluntary sector around social prescribing and better referral mechanisms. Priorities for training included how to develop powerful case studies, monitoring and assessment, counselling, mental health awareness and social activities for artist practitioners and facilitation skills.
We were reminded by Manchester City Council’s Culture Team that events and activities can be promoted through their new website https://loadstodo.co.uk/ to bring new participants to communities, drive people to an organisations website and raise their profile.
It was great to spend an afternoon networking and meeting so many people with a passion for this kind of work. If you would like to find out more about any aspect of these projects please contact Lory Povah email: email@example.com or ring 07926 031925
To see more of the Great Place GM project:
String of Hearts https://www.stringofhearts.co.uk/index.html
Contact Lucy on 07392 154743 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Together One CIC: Email: Stephen@together-one.org