Funding Success Stories (Kensington & Chelsea): Draw your thoughts

Innovation Fund Feedback from our friend Anna at Look Ahead

Look Ahead was awarded the Innovation Fund to set up a 3 months art therapy group across their cluster of Mental Health service in a supported accommodation setting.

12 consecutive art sessions of the art workshops were delivered at Linden House and 12 consecutive art sessions at Cedar House, which ran for duration of one and a half hours each. These sessions run on a weekly basis and were facilitated by the in-house therapist and a staff member. There were also some ad-hoc sessions that run over the Christmas period in three different locations.

Due to Covid restrictions, the initial space could no longer be used so I size of the groups had to be reduced and some of the participants starting attending individual sessions with their keyworker.

Anna informed me that from this project, she learned that residents value social interactions more than we think and that most of the time it doesn’t take long for them to feel comfortable enough to get out of their comfort zone and try something different.

Anna stated that they achieved a good participation, considering their client group and they will commence the art sessions at Holly Villas the project in May.

A total of 13 residents out of the 29 benefitted from the art sessions, 29, including some people that wouldn’t usually take part to group activities. Anna told me that some of the residents that participated in the project are still making use of the art material: in their own flat or with a staff member.

Anna said that they received positive feedback from the residents: one of them, for example, said that he used to paint when he was very young but then he forgot about it when he became ill. Through the art sessions he was able to re-discover those skills and to experience pleasure while painting, getting in touch again with his creativity. He reflected that engaging with art again was therapeutic for him, especially when he would feel very sad.

Another resident, that showed to be very skilled was highly insecure: we discovered that he used to enjoy drawing but only under the influence of drugs. It was a great opportunity for us to open a conversation about the meaning of drugs use in his life and the impact of it on his self-confidence.

Anna stated that “In Linden House the art items are being used by the residents and by staff in a more informal way: after the 12 sessions have been completed some of the residents that took part in the group showed interest and appreciation for the art activity and became more independent in creating art work on their own terms”.

Anna stated “In the future I would increase the number of the sessions as we observed that it took long time for the residents to gain an established routine. This time we purchased mainly items for painting and drawing: if there would be a next time I would consider including other items that would take into consideration different forms of art (collage, decoupage, furniture renewal).

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