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Art Angel

14 April 2014

Established in 2001, Dundee based Art Angel, offers creative opportunities for people with experience of long term mental health issues who are either in acute hospital or live in the community.  Many members are disengaged from mainstream services and excluded from community networks as a result. The organisation works with 110 people each week providing professionally facilitated workshops in art, writing, photography and film in addition to support groups and meaningful volunteering opportunities. The project aims to support self-expression and encourage users to feel more confident. 

Art Angel was awarded £10,000 from Foundation Scotland through the Comic Relief Local Communities Programme in December 2012 to enable them to pilot extending its support to include weekends for the first time. The grant specifically contributed to the cost of a lead photography tutor and an art tutor in addition to two support tutors. The tutors facilitated forty weeks of workshops delivered on both Saturdays and Sundays offering much needed daily continuity for people with mental health issues and flexibility to the weekday 9 to 5 provision.

Overall, the group is run by and for people with mental health issues and they are encouraged to inform staff and contribute to what they think is best for their own recovery and future wellbeing.

The project engaged with thirty people per weekend in organised, high quality, arts activities supported by experienced tutors.  Attending the project was "life changing" for those able to engage fully. Out of the thirty people who attended the weekend groups, none were admitted to hospital in that time, which for some people means breaking the pattern of admission, discharge and readmission which has persisted for years.  

DSC03062People with mental health issues, particularly those moving in to employment schemes, benefitted greatly from weekend support as continuity is crucial to their continued wellbeing at work and ability to hold down a job long-term. People with young children at home or at school do not always have the opportunity to engage in the project during the week and therefore end up isolated and disengaged altogether therefore providing support and a creative outlet at the weekend increases accessibility. 

Rosie Summerton, Manager of Art Angel said, “The funding and support from Comic Relief has changed the lives of people in Dundee who not only deal with mental health issues on a daily basis but are bringing up young children, trying to hold down jobs or who find weekends particularly difficult with lack of support from friends, family and mental health services. The weekend workshops have been crucial in supporting people with mental health issues who have had no access to Art Angel due to their particular circumstances. The workshops have provided support, fun and life enhancing activity to aid recovery, wellbeing and sustained good health.”

One person who attended said “Saturday has given me an outlet for creating things which I can’t do during the week with the kids. It has helped me focus, concentrate and it’s like an oasis for me to be myself and most of all I enjoy it so much.”

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