AHSW's Director, Trustees, and Members reflect on various aspects of arts, health and wellbeing.

Mental Health & Loneliness – Upcoming Conference

Director’s Blog – October 2019

I hope some of you were able to listen to the two webinars on loneliness and the arts (and apologies for the technical hitches). It is exciting to be delivering joint learning activities with Public Health England South West. You can see the presentations here. Our annual conference ‘Creativity at the Heart of Human Flourishing’ on 31st October and 1st November will be a further opportunity to explore the themes that emerged. We will be discussing co-production with people with lived experience of ill-health and considering how we co-produce research and practice; there will be workshops on singing-on-prescription and another based on learning from the SW Academic Health Science Network Spread Academy on personalised care; and we will hear about the latest developments in research on mental health and loneliness, amongst other things. The final session on Friday 1st November is with Ellie Malone, Creative Director of Effervescent Social Alchemy, a Plymouth-based design agency committed to creating large scale positive change. Ellie will be presenting the recently launched Lonely not Alone campaign, created with and for young people. You could wear yellow socks to the conference to support the campaign! AHSW’s Research Fellow, Julia Puebla Fortier, has written an article on the strategy process here. Tickets are available until 23rd October.


We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the Achates Philanthropy Prize. The Prize celebrates first time giving to the arts and the £10,000 fund is shared between an Individual Philanthropy Award and a Corporate Philanthropy Award. We nominated Dr John Barnes as our fledgling philanthropist. John is a consultant psychiatrist working for the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. He attended our first Spring School, in 2018, and then took part in an Action Learning Set led by our Chair, Sue. He says he is inspired by the professionalism and commitment of community artists, particularly in their work with excluded groups, and now sees engagement in culture as both a rights and justice issue and a health issue. John is supporting our Big Give campaign Connecting through Creativity: Tackling Loneliness and he is going to help us persuade other medical professionals to consider giving to arts and health work.


Information about the next Spring School will be available at the conference and online from the end of October. The School will be in March 2020 and is an opportunity for a small group of academics, artists, people with lived experience of ill-health and healthcare professionals to experience and share an in-depth exploration of creativity, nature, health and wellbeing.


I recently completed the King’s Fund Cascading Leadership programme, which is for people working with health and social care in the voluntary community sector. It was very rewarding and wonderful to be given space and time for reflection. The King’s Fund delivers a lot of leadership development within the NHS and they recognise that the VCS sector is central to the future delivery of health and social care but has little infrastructure support. The methodology is based on peer-to-peer and relational leadership models. There was much discussion about the difference between our ‘consultant’ role and how that differs from mentoring and coaching. If anyone is interested in taking part in the programme, I would highly recommend it. It is free and they are now advertising for the next cohort.


Alex Coulter

Friday 18th October 2019

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