Winners and Highly Commended – Art, MH and Wellbeing Award 2015

WINNERS – Open Arts, South Essex Partnership NHS University Foundation Trust

Open Arts is a community arts and mental health project run as one of the charities managed within the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT). The project receives no core NHS funding, and is completely reliant on external grant funding for staff and project costs. Open Arts works in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and is guided by a Steering Group comprising strategic partners from adult community learning, ARU, local authority arts officers, project beneficiaries as well as the Open Arts team. Our core activity is the provision of community-based introductory arts courses during which participants are introduced to wider opportunities, including a six-month placement for course graduates at our studio in Hadleigh. Our central purpose is to support the recovery and wellbeing of people experiencing or at risk of mental ill health in South Essex.

The project is different to other services within SEPT in that it is run in non NHS community venues, facilitated by local artists rather than clinical staff, focussing on art and the practical processes and experiences that surround art, as opposed to focusing on the mental health or disability problem.

The project compliments other mental health services as an onward referral route for people who are ready to move on in their recovery, as well as providing a creative outlet that is included as part of service users’ Care Plans. Open Arts courses offer a stepping stone for people who are recovering from a severe bout of mental ill health such as schizophrenia, bi-polar or personality disorder, who are working towards their reintegration into the community.

It also offers a creative, social place for people who are isolated, at risk of ill health such as carers or people with mental health problems, or suffering from milder mental health needs such as depressed mood, bereavement or stress.  Open Arts aims to offer people the opportunity to move forward as part of society by working together with people from all different backgrounds through a common interest in art. Open arts operates an entirely open referral system. Participants can either be referred by a mental health professional or they can self-refer. No differentiation is made depending on a person’s diagnosis and contact is made with any mental health professionals already working with the client to ascertain the appropriateness of the referral. This open referral system is unique in south Essex mental health services and is a key factor in making Open Arts truly open to everyone who feel they may benefit from our activities.

For more information please contact :-     07580 982 462



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