Arts for Health and Wellbeing in Wandsworth: Four local organisations awarded new funding

In September 2022, Wandsworth Council called out for local arts and cultural organisations to apply for a new funding opportunity, designed to support creative activity focused on health and wellbeing in the borough. The Arts for Health and Wellbeing Fund is part of Wandsworth’s award-winning Social Prescribing initiative, bringing together the social and medical models of health and wellness in a holistic approach to healthcare.

“We know that taking control of our own health and living a full and active life is crucial to protecting and enhancing our wellbeing and mental health. Arts and culture are an important part of this, and I’m delighted that we are supporting our community partners to put on these activities for local people to enjoy.”

Cllr Graeme Henderson, Wandsworth Council’s Cabinet Member for Health

Four brilliant local organisations were selected in our first round of awards to deliver creative wellbeing projects in Falconbrook, Shaftesbury & Queenstown, Roehampton and Nine Elms.

Image: Creative Soul Dance – Nine Elms Arts Ministry

Nine Elms Arts Ministry will use the award to build on their successful 2022 pilot project: Creative Soul Dance sessions for adults of all ages. These are a series of gentle movement sessions led by professional dancers, aimed at nurturing physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and accessible to all abilities.

“We are delighted to have received this award and to be part of Wandsworth’s Social Prescribing offer. It’s wonderful to see residents aged from 20s to 80s from all walks of life engaging with the joy of dance in a safe, supportive and fun environment – working with amazing professional dancers. As we chat over refreshments each week, we constantly hear how much the sessions help participants wellbeing and aid them in overcoming stress and anxiety, get them out of the house and moving, and just have fun! This award will help us to continue to offer these valuable sessions and to enable more local residents to benefit from the incredible power of dance.”

Rev Betsy Blatchley, Pioneer Minister in the Arts in Nine Elms
Image: Speech Bubbles – Bounce Theatre

Bounce Theatre’s Speech Bubbles project is a year-long creative intervention for children aged 5-7, who have a communication need that affects their well-being. Speech Bubbles is a weekly drama programme offering children an opportunity to tell stories and act them out, and Bounce Theatre are working with Key Stage 1 pupils at Griffin Primary School and Falconbrook Primary School to deliver the project.

“It is estimated by that over 1.7 million children in the UK are facing speech & language challenges. A programme like Speech Bubbles can help children develop core skills in communication through play & storytelling. We are therefore delighted to have received support from Wandsworth Arts to roll out Speech Bubbles to support the well-being of local children in two of our local schools.”

Louise Pendry, Artistic Director of Bounce Theatre

Mental Health charity Sound Minds are supported to engage with new participants experiencing mental distress by expanding the provision of visual art workshops with an additional weekly afternoon session.

“At Sound Minds we are really excited to be taking part in the Arts for Health Wellbeing funding programme. It allows us to expand the range of people we work with, increase the scope our provision, contribute to our local community, and further test the therapeutic impact of our activity.”

Chas De Swiet, CEO of Sound Minds
Image: Sound Minds Art Workshops – by Sam Haynes
Image: Elders at Katherine Low Settlement  

Katherine Low Settlement have been awarded the funding to maintain and grow their Elders Sewing Group project, a weekly guided programme of sewing activities for frail and isolated people aged over 60 in Wandsworth. 

“We are delighted to have been awarded this funding to help us build on our sewing programme for local older people.  We see first-hand the benefits of social prescribing for creative activities in a community setting: while learning new craft skills and working hard on their projects, our members are also building confidence, making new friendships and accessing support networks at our centre.”

Sarah Goodall, Head of Elders Team, Katherine Low Settlement

What is Social Prescribing?

Social Prescribing is a holistic approach to healthcare that brings together the social and medical models of health and wellness. It provides a formal pathway for health providers to address the diverse determinants of health, using the familiar and trusted environments of GP practices, health visitors and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. Following an open call, Wandsworth’s Arts & Culture Service is launching a new Arts for Health & Wellbeing programme, to add a cultural offer to the existing Social Prescribing programme in the borough.

Organisations joining Wandsworth Arts & Culture Service Social Prescribing offer will attend relevant kick-off meetings and training sessions, as well as contributing to a comprehensive evaluation process. 

Wandsworth’s social prescribing programme was named national Social Prescribing Programme of the Year at the Link Worker Day 2021 Awards.

More about Bounce Theatre: Speech Bubbles

Bounce Theatre’s social prescribing offer will fund a pilot of their Speech Bubbles project in Wandsworth. Speech Bubbles is targeted, year-long, evidence-based intervention for children in Key Stage 1 who display a Speech, Language and Communication Need. The programme runs over 24 weeks across an academic year. It aims to support 20 children in Year 1 and Year 2 in developing their Speaking, Listening and Attention Skills. The programme also aims to enhance the skills of a member of school staff to run small group creative work. Participating schools will sign up the Speech Bubbles model and will put forward Key stage One pupils who have a communication need that is impacting their engagement in learning and/or socialisation.

Bounce Theatre make original, imaginative, and brave work. They make creative work with care to connect people. Connecting to new ideas, new people and communities allows them to find new ways to communicate. Their programme includes new writing, design, and theatre. They create original theatre and events with people about the things that matter to them.

More about Katherine Low Settlement: Elders Sewing Group

Katherine Low Settlement’s social prescribing offer will employ a tutor to lead an existing sewing group which meets on a Tuesday morning for two hours.  The group are currently self-led at the Katherine Low Settlement site, with 50% of the elders currently in the group having a dementia diagnosis. KLS will also sign-post referred individuals to other social activities held at their centre, such as their lunch club. Participants will be referred by GP’s, Health Visitors and frail and isolated over 60’s in Battersea will also be invited to self-refer.  

Katherine Low Settlement is a much-loved, busy charity that has been at the heart of the community in Battersea, South West London, since 1924. With a few staff and a lot of volunteers, they run a range of community services, campaign for social change and support other charities and communities to thrive. They support children, young people and their families, older people, women and refugees and newly-arrived communities. 

More about Nine Elms Arts Ministry: Creative Soul Dance 

Nine Elms Arts Ministry’s social prescribing offer will offer a freeweekly wellbeing dance session using contemporary dance and other styles, taught by experienced professional dancers. The dance sessions, which use different well-being enhancing themes, are just over an hour, including a meditative ‘cool-down’ and followed by refreshments and a chance to reflect on the session and chat with others. In addition to the dance teachers there is always a support assistant (and often additional volunteers) to help support participants practically and pastorally. They will work with Link Workers, GP’s and Health Visitors to reach adults of all ages based in SW8 and SW11 postcodes, particularly those who are isolated.   

Nine Elms Arts Ministry believe that arts and creativity are central to building healthy, vibrant and inclusive communities. They have been creating arts events and bringing people together around creativity, wellbeing, spirituality and social justice in Nine Elms and Battersea since 2018. 

Nine Elms Arts Ministry is supported by The Diocese of Southwark. The Creative Soul Dance pilot was supported by Dominvs Group. St Mary’s RC Primary provide the space for the classes, and dance teachers include Emily Yong, Rachel Riveros and Anna Nicholls.

More about Sound Minds: Art for Mental Health 

Sound Minds’ social prescribing offer will offer an arts session at Sound Minds’ visual arts studio. The session will be free and will run for 3 hours from 2pm to 5pm on Fridays. They can accommodate up to 12 people each session and referrals will be signed up to 10 weeks of activity. Activity will include painting, drawing, sculpture, life drawing, still life, printing and digital image making. They will work with adults experiencing mental distress, referred through Link Workers, GP’s, Health Visitors and self-referral.

Sound Minds is a mental health charity transforming lives through music, film and art. They are a thriving community bound together by creativity and a shared belief in mutual learning and peer support. Their well-equipped studios in Wandsworth are available for rehearsal, courses, practice, one-to-one tuition and art projects.