Make Your Mark is the arts and health programme for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Founded in January 2015, the programme delivers and supports a range of arts-based participatory learning opportunities for service users, staff and carers.
What We Did
Make Your Mark is the arts and health programme for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Founded in January 2015, the programme delivers and supports a range of arts-based participatory learning opportunities for service users, staff and carers. The overall aim of MYM is to use the arts to make a difference to individuals, groups and communities, to develop an arts practice to help us tell stories, transform environments and bring new understandings of health and human experience into the public realm. By giving space to imagination we seek to integrate creativity into the fabric of health care and create new possibilities for learning, health and wellbeing within our communities.
Our arts programme provides developmental opportunities to increase participants’ wellbeing, vitality and sense of connection with their interests and those of others. We see the arts as offering an important resource where service users, staff and carers can take part as participants to learn more about themselves, their shared humanity and their creativity.
We are committed whenever possible to make our programme public through exhibitions within our services and in the community to raise awareness of mental health issues and to reduce stigma within communities. Additionally, the exhibitions in our services improve neglected and uninspiring areas within the built environment.
Thanks to a recent grant from Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Explore and Test scheme, we were able to initiate a project that saw arts courses included in Sussex Recovery’s College’s spring term 2016. The project has a large-scale evaluation element attached to it. Although only in the initial stages of collecting data, MYM staff have attended at least one session of each course, enabling us to gather some early-stage feedback. This has shown that students have been consistently positive about the value of the courses as well as the evaluation process itself. One student remarked that having been unable to leave the house or engage socially in any meaningful way for years, he is now having fun again and looked forward to his art class every week. It is also apparent that a developing interest in the arts is emerging among the participants. For example, a group from the Creative Music Making course now meet regularly for ‘jamming’ sessions.
As well as positive feedback from the individuals taking part, feedback from people who know the students has also been equally positive, with one friend of a student saying that she has never seen her friend so positive, relaxed and engaged before. Finally, a Peer Trainer who recognised a student from previous courses remarked on the noticeable change in the student’s positivity and engagement.
Other projects have also received positive feedback from participants and audience members. For example, an art therapist who supported the ‘What Makes Your Heart Sing?’ project feedback that one of the group was ‘over the moon’ to receive a postcard of the image she made in the workshop. Feedback from Print Out project staff participants identified the project had increased their sense of creativity. One participant described the project offered ‘freedom to create without boundaries.’ Staff particularly identified the value of having a service user involved in the project and how they would like more opportunities to work alongside people who use services.
Wider Active Support
The MYM programme is participatory. We believe there can be many benefits from artistic collaboration between service users, carers, staff and artists. Our programme has been shaped by a number of important partnerships, including several major cultural organisations. The following partners offered support to our programme and a commitment to work with us: Towner Gallery (Eastbourne), Fabrica Gallery (Brighton), Royal Pavilion & Museums (Brighton), Regency Town House (Brighton), De La Warr Pavilion (Bexhill), Southampton Art Gallery (Southampton), Turner Contemporary (Margate), Worthing Museum and Art Gallery (Worthing), The Hawth (Crawley), Clair Hall (Haywards Heath), Pallant House Gallery and Outside In (Chichester), Ditchling Museum (Ditchling), and Creative Future. Additionally, we have started to make links with Maidstone Museum (Maidstone), Aspex Gallery (Portsmouth), and Cass Sculpture Foundation (Chichester).
Make Your Mark was launched with a series of three consultation events held between January – May 2015 and an on line survey to gather responses and ideas to shape the development of our arts and health programme. The events and survey were advertised widely to all Sussex Partnership foundation trust members through both the newsletter and email, to all staff through the Partnership Bulletin, through Patient Experience networks including third sector groups and organisations, to arts organisations and through professional networks within the trust. The consultation events all took part in art gallery settings and were designed so that as well as participants offering feedback, the events were as creative and participatory as possible and included singing and looking at art works together. We also launched a specially commissioned film by artist Annis Joslin about the role of the arts in health. This film has continued to be an important source of information about our programme.
Available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Sj-vzwg5rY
The feedback from 162 stakeholders who took part (service users, NHS staff, carers, artists and foundation trust members) was overwhelmingly positive and unanimously in support of the development of the Make Your Mark arts and health programme by Sussex Partnership. From the consultation we learnt that our programme needs to:
– Be participatory and collaborative
– Community based and build links between those who use mental health services and cultural partners
– Increase access to a range of art forms and cultural opportunities
– Be sustainable
– Deliver personal, interpersonal, social and community outcomes.
Since the consultations we have formed a Service User Advisory Group. Members of this group also attend the MYM steering group, which is chaired by the Director for Education and Training and reports to the Education Governance Group, chaired by the Clinical Academic Director.
Looking Back/Challenges Faced
Our programme is funded through Sussex Partnership’s charity Heads On and all our projects require external grant funding. It takes time to develop bids and apply for funding. This meant there was quite a long delay from launching the programme and having our first funding in place. It would have been better to immediately have a project we could direct people who had been very enthusiastic towards.
One of the biggest challenges is the size of the Trust and the large geographic area we cover means that communication networks are essential. By working with a partner, Sussex Recovery College, we were able to promote our first major arts project through their already well established communications networks ensuring as many service users as possible had an opportunity to engage.
By applying for grant funding to cover staff time we have been able to grow the MYM team from a two day lead post to a staff team of three including an Arts Project Worker and a Research Assistant. This has enabled us to develop more effective communication systems, take on a wider range of opportunities and commence a systematic longitudinal evaluation of our Recovery college project. (funded through the Paul Hamlyn Foundation)
The length of time it takes to fundraise is challenging. Heads On charity has MYM as one of its major ongoing funding priorities and we are working actively to develop a number of project opportunities. We offer a consultation and support to services across the Trust to develop and deliver their own smaller projects this way increasing the reach of MYM between major projects.
We are building a strong reputation within the regional cultural sector and have already been able to attract high quality applicants to both staff roles and for artistic commissions. The majority of our commissions have been advertised nationally and we have a growing social media presence. We are confident that as a result MYM has the foundation to continue to thrive if the current post holder moves on.
MYM’s 2015-16 programme was shaped by a consultation process involving 162 people between February and May 2015. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and unanimously in support of the development of MYM.
A grant from Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Explore and Test scheme enabled us to run arts courses within Sussex Recovery College during the spring term, with an important opportunity to undertake a longitudinal evaluation project exploring the impact arts based Recovery College courses have on participants’ subsequent engagement in the arts and their use of mental health services. This will provide our first in depth, systematic evaluation of a MYM project. The evaluation strand of the project commenced in July 2016 and is being conducted by Catherine Butterfield, MYM’s Research Assistant. The final evaluation report is to be published in summer 2017.
We are committed to disseminating the work we do through digital and online channels including Youtube and Twitter, as well as through internal newsletters, mailing lists and meetings. We have written about the project for external publications including Arts Professional, and have submitted to a current All Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry into arts and health. Our built environment exhibitions all include accompanying text panels to give the work context and we have produced postcards and booklets to make art works from our collection as widely available as possible.
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Film about MYM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Sj-vzwg5rY