Arts for Health and Wellbeing in Wandsworth: New Social Prescribing projects encourage residents to thrive

Wandsworth Council is supporting a second cohort of local organisations to offer social prescribing activities as part of its Arts for Health & Wellbeing pilot initiative, bringing the total number of supported projects to be delivered throughout 2023 to nine.

Four new local projects will be taking place across Tooting Broadway, Tooting Bec, Furzedown, Wandle, South Balham and Trinity wards.

Action for Autism: MovementWorks

Action for Autism by MovementWorks is a weekly Dance Movement Therapy session for young people aged 11 – 16 with autism and related differences, taking place at Tooting Leisure Centre throughout 2023.

MovementWorks will offer a 12-week programme of well-being focused dance sessions led by experienced professional Autism Movement Therapy Practitioners.

The sessions include participating in learning rhythmic and dance movement patterns and sequences and interactive games that encourage creative and social collaboration.

“We are thrilled to be bringing ‘Action for Autism’ to Wandsworth. Creating access to high quality movement education is at the heart of what we do. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to engage in such experiences. This project makes life-changing differences to the physical health and emotional wellbeing of these young people.”

Ali Golding MSc, PG Cert SEN, BA (Hons) FRSA, Director, MovementWorks

CARAS & Tara Theatre: Creative Coffee Mornings for Sanctuary Seekers

Weekly creative coffee morning for sanctuary seekers will be held at Tara Theatre in partnership with CARAS (Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) throughout 2023, promoting social inclusion through arts engagement activities for anyone who has come to the UK with refugee, humanitarian protected or asylum seeker status.

“Refugees and new-arrival asylum seekers in Wandsworth face high levels of isolation which compounds trauma that individuals bring with them during displacement. Thanks to Wandsworth Council’s support we are now able to add new creative activities to our coffee mornings that will be co-created with our community members. We’re excited to see improvements to health and wellbeing that will result from this exciting new program.”

– Jamie Charnock, Head of Adult Inclusion, CARAS

Wandsworth Libraries: CathARTism

CathARTism will explore health and wellbeing through art in an informal and relaxed atmosphere at Balham and Tooting libraries every week, starting from April 2023 to March 2024.

The aim of these sessions is to provide free, accessible support to those who are experiencing feelings associated with stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression through workshops, delivered by qualified facilitators pulling from art therapy techniques, mindfulness and positive psychology.

“GLL has successfully operated libraries on behalf of Wandsworth Council for the past 10 years, supporting local communities with a wealth of free services and activities. As a charitable social enterprise that exists to demonstrably improve health and wellbeing, GLL is delighted to be able to work with creative organisations that also want to see outcomes improved for residents. Library innovations like this are great examples of what’s achievable when we work in close collaboration with Wandsworth Council and when we realise the full potential for public services to expand to meet the needs of the community.”

Diana Edmonds, National Libraries Director GLL.

Wandsworth Music: Music Therapy

Wandsworth Music will expand their existing music therapy provision – providing more weekly sessions for children and young people in schools across the borough, and at their Saturday clinic at Burntwood School from April 2023 to March 2024.

Wandsworth Music Therapy will run individual and group music therapy sessions, designed to meet the individual emotional, social and communication needs of each child. This project will reach young people who have been identified as needing support with their mental health, to improve wellbeing, resilience and self-confidence.

“The music therapy team at Wandsworth Music is incredibly excited to be able to expand our service this year with the help and support of Arts for Health and Well-being in Wandsworth. We provide desperately needed mental health support to children across the borough of Wandsworth and are extremely grateful that we will be able help even more young people.”

– Lizzie Leonard, Senior Music Therapist, Wandsworth Music

Breathe Melodies for Mums

In addition, Wandsworth Council has commissioned one of the UK’s leading arts and health organisations, Breathe Arts Health Research, to deliver their award-winning programme Breathe Melodies for Mums in Nine Elms and Roehampton’s Children Centres during Autumn 2023 and Spring 2024.

Breathe Melodies for Mums is a pioneering evidence-based group singing service for new mothers with or at risk of postnatal depression and their babies.

“We’re thrilled to be launching Breathe Melodies for Mums in Wandsworth this Autumn. Since starting the programme in Southwark and Lambeth in 2017, we’ve reached over 500 new mothers across the UK, with our transformative group singing programme. The programme is grounded in world class research by the Royal College of Music and Imperial College London, proving the profoundly positive impact group singing can have on maternal mental health. Wandsworth Council’s investment in Arts for Health & Wellbeing comes at an exciting time for Breathe, as we celebrate a decade of working in the Creative Health sector and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and expertise with other brilliant cultural organisations in the borough.”

Yvonne Farquharson, Founder & MD, Breathe Arts Health Research

A Community of Practice

Breathe Arts Health Research will also support the development of a Community of Practice for Wandsworth cultural organisations working in creative health, offering training, sharing and networking opportunities for free to local creative organisations engaged in Health & Wellbeing activities.

Training and networking opportunities are available for free to Wandsworth-based creative organisations engaged in Health & Wellbeing activities: Training and Networking 2023 – 2024

Arts for Health & Wellbeing in Wandsworth

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, and delivered in partnership with Enable and South West London Integrated Care System.

The Arts for Health and Wellbeing initiative is part of an award-winning Social Prescribing programme, bringing together the social and medical models of health and wellness in a holistic approach to healthcare.

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, including: Nine Elms Arts Ministry’s Creative Soul Dance sessions; Bounce Theatre’s Speech Bubbles, a drama programme for children with communication needs; Sound Minds’ visual art workshops for adults experiencing mental distress; and Katherine Low Settlement’s Elders Sewing Group.

Wandsworth residents can access each activity through GP referral or community connectors such as schools and support organisations. Self-referrals are also considered.