For a while now, I have been formulating the idea of running a craft group to support vulnerable people, particularly those experiencing mental health difficulties. Following on from the mentoring programme provided by Creative Leicestershire it was clear that combining my previous skills as a trained nurse with a certificate in counselling skills with my current art/craft activities was the way forward. Following on from this, I decided that working as an arts for health practitioner was the way forward for me.
'Crafting for Health and Wellbeing' is a 12 month project to engage with disadvantaged and vulnerable people with mental health and/or wellbeing needs in activities which will boost their self esteem, self confidence and social engagement and belonging. People who join the group, run by myself, an experienced arts for health practitioner, assisted by a range of volunteers and visiting artists, will engage in craft activities which will have an outcome, e.g. gifting finished work to charities, community arts and craft fairs. During the project, we expect to engage with between fifty to sixty people. The project will be ideal for those who do not find it easy to join mainstream groups because of social or financial barriers etc. The project will help beneficaries to gain new skills, boost self- esteem and give them a more postitive outlook.
There are a few people to thank for helping this project come to fruition. First of all two Pete's: Pete Mosley - without his and Creative Leicestershire mentoring programme, the ideas for this project would probably never had happened. Pete helped me to realise the unique healthcare skills that I could bring to my organisation. Also Peter Henshaw from Leicestershire Dyslexia Association, who helped me to put my spoken ideas into written words. I am dyslexic and although I am very creative and can verbalise my ideas, I find it exceptionally difficult to put this into written word. Peter was able to help me with my grant application so I owe some of the sucess to him and his patience which was outstanding.
Two other wonderful people who have been a source of constant support, and have given their time freely, deserve a bit mention here too. They are Jacqui Booth and Lindsey Warnes-Carroll. Both talented creatives in their own right, who also see the importance of delivering a programme of arts for health in Leicester/Leicestershire. Both Jacqui and Lindsey are now non-executive directors of Little Bird SOS - I shall tell you more about Jacqui and Lindsay, and their talents, in later posts!
And finally, my family. My husband Dave and my two lovely children have been right behind me right from the start when I had the seeds of my ideas. We constantly discussed how they might develop. Dave is a talented artist and I really appreciate his creative input. And my children? Well it's amazing what they have to offer. They see the world so differently to adults, and sometimes their wisdom is breathtaking. They also have a natural creative zeal, which, sadly, tends to wane in many adults in the course of their lives. Children invigorate us.
We are planning to launch the project at our studio at Cross Corners Community Arts Centre in Belgrave Leicester on 20 June 2014. We will be able to talk to you about the project and have some of the craft activities available for you try. We hope you will be able to share this information with anyone that you feel will be interested in attending or even come along yourself.
Arts for Health Practitioner and Director of Little Bird SOS