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

The First Blog Since Lockdown

Director’s Blog – April 2020

This is our first ebulletin since lockdown. I very much hope that you and your families and friends are keeping safe and well. And, if you are working in frontline services, I hope you know how extremely grateful and full of admiration we are. Last week, my family and I joined the chorus of clapping as our neighbour, Penny, a GP, did a lap of honour on her bicycle amidst the tears and laughter.

There has been an extraordinary response from many of those working in arts and health. Practitioners who were delivering face to face creative activities with vulnerable groups have been imaginative, creative and resilient in their efforts to provide ongoing support, both online and offline. There are some excellent resources being pulled together by colleagues around the country and the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance team are providing links to many of them, updated regularly. Hannah has created a webpage on Covid-19 resources with a particular focus on regional support. If you would like us to include any information please let Hannah know by emailing

Last week, our area leads came together online, to connect, support each other and share information and ideas. We would like to organise a programme of network meetings using Zoom over the next few months. We will organise them by locality, so that when the lockdown lifts, the groups can meet face to face if they want to. The purpose of the meetings will be to share learning and support each other, as well as inform future collaborative work. Please sign up here if you are interested.

Sue Isherwood, Chair of AHSW, is facilitating Action Learning Sets (ALS) in Dorchester, Bristol and Exeter which will now transfer to online. Sue is a trained online ALS facilitator and she is able to offer one more group. We are joining forces with Jayne Howard, Director of Arts Well CIC, also a trained online ALS facilitator, who can offer one new group too. Each group is six people and you will meet every three to four weeks. You can find out more about ALS here. If you think you would be interested, please sign up here. Jayne Howard is also offering a range of online meetings and courses that you can join here.

The planned webinar with Jules Ford, on Thursday April 2nd 12-1pm, will now reflect the current situation. Jules has sent me a film about the Cultural Commissioning work of Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and also a short film telling us about how they are working with the arts providers during Covid-19. Julia Fortier and I will then lead a discussion and Q&A. You can sign up for the webinar here. As we plan further webinars please let us know if there is a subject you would be particularly keen to hear about or share.

The Culture Weston Arts + Health Weekender has been postponed, but there will be an online programme of digital content including a ‘Creative Conversation’ on Friday 3rd April in the afternoon. The first session is a webinar with a panel discussion and the second session a more general Zoom meeting. If enough people join we can try out the breakout room function! A link to join will be posted at soon.

We also know that many people feel overwhelmed by the rapid transition to full-time online connection and communication. You don’t need me to remind you to look after your own health and wellbeing through making time for creativity. I feel very lucky that in the week before the crisis fully engulfed us, I was at our residential Spring School in Dorset. We were a group of arts and health professionals, doctors, allied health professionals, academics, artists and people with long-term conditions and we had a profoundly restorative and lovely time together in a beautiful and wild place. We explored how we can collectively make meaning from illness through creativity. The lead artist, Ruth Davey, helped us see nature in new ways with mindful photography techniques. Ruth is developing a resource in response to the current situation which you can sign up for here.

After Easter, we will be circulating a short survey to identify other ways we can support you.

Keep very well.


Alex Coulter

1st April 2020

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