Arts for Health & Wellbeing

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.

Wandsworth pilot Arts for Health & Wellbeing programme 2022-2024

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.

Wandsworth Council have supported eight local organisations to deliver creative health & wellbeing programmes across the borough between January 2023 and June 2024. We’ve also commissioned leading UK arts and health charity Breathe Arts Health Research to deliver their award-winning programme Breathe Melodies for Mums in Roehampton and Battersea, and work with us to develop a local community of practice.

Bounce Theatre: Speech Bubbles

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. Bounce Theatre are working with Key Stage 1 pupils at Griffin Primary School and Falconbrook Primary School to deliver the project.


Sound Minds: art workshops

Mental Health charity Sound Minds have been supported to engage with new participants experiencing mental distress by expanding the provision of visual art workshops with an additional weekly afternoon session.
The new session is on Fridays 2pm – 5pm, for Wandsworth residents experiencing mental distress.


Katherine Low Settlement: Elders Sewing Group

A weekly guided programme of sewing activities for frail and isolated people aged over 60 in Wandsworth.

"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


MovementWorks: Action for Autism

Weekly Dance Movement Therapy sessions for young people aged 11 – 16 with autism and related differences, taking place at Tooting Leisure Centre.

MovementWorks offer a programme of wellbeing 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.


Tara Theatre & CARAS: Sanctuary Seekers Coffee Mornings

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


Wandsworth Libraries: CathARTism

CathARTism explores health and wellbeing through art in an informal and relaxed atmosphere at Balham and Tooting libraries every week. 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.


Wandsworth Music: Music Therapy

Weekly sessions for children and young people in schools across the borough, and at their Saturday clinic.

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


Discover creative health activities in Wandsworth 2024

Explore our round up of creative activities you can find right on your doorstep – all designed to reduce your stress-levels, meet new friends, stimulate your creative juices, and get you moving in 2024.

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.

Wandsworth’s Arts for Health & Wellbeing programme adds a new cultural offer to the award-winning Social Prescribing programme already operating in the borough, which was named national Social Prescribing Programme of the Year at the Link Worker Day 2021 Awards, and is delivered in partnership with Enable and South West London Integrated Care System.

“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

“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

The impact of creativity on health and wellbeing

Read some of the case studies and interviews highlighting the impact of our first year of supporting Arts for Health and Wellbeing programming.

Supporting Refugees In Wandsworth: Interview With CARAS

"The coffee afternoon at Tara Theatre has been one of the most popular groups that we run – I think it’s reached almost 100 people since it started!

It’s been a really warm, welcoming, vibrant space for people to come to, and our community members have told us how much they’ve valued that – a lot of other places people encounter might not feel like that, so being somewhere they can relax, be themselves, learn about each other and have fun is really important."

Read on Tara Theatre's website

Movement therapy programme for autistic children turns lives around

When 11-year-old Connor first came to the MovementWorks therapy programme session he was facing severe challenges at school.

Within a few weeks of attending the therapy his mother Lucy saw a 360-degree turnaround in his school life, with Connor showing massive improvements in concentration and gaining the confidence to handle situations he would have found difficult.

Read the interview on SW London Integrated Care website.

Breathe Melodies for Mums launches singing for wellbeing in Wandsworth

Jenny experienced complications after her son’s birth, and he needed specialist care. It was an intensely challenging time for her and her partner, as they got used to becoming parents and coping with breastfeeding. When Jenny joined Breathe Melodies for Mums sessions she found the programme such a positive experience that she is recommending it to other new mums.

"Breathe Melodies for Mums holds a special place in my heart. It lifted me out of the place I was in, which was quite a low state.”

Breathe Melodies For Mums

“After the sessions I feel really good, it improves your mood and gives you good energy. Every time I come to the sessions, I’m excited.”

“I find Breathe Melodies for Mums really great, the positive atmosphere, the uplifting songs, just everything. I’d like to thank every single person who is behind it, it’s just amazing, I love it, thank you so much.” 

“Before these sessions we didn’t know each other, we had never met before, we really get on well together, now we see each other 3 times a week. Thanks to Breathe we’ve found each other.”

“These sessions really connect women with one another, it’s also helpful to socialise and share experiences. I’m glad for Breathe, I’ve met lots of friends here. I love the sessions, hopefully there will be more, not just 10 weeks.”

Wandsworth Music’s Saturday Music Therapy sessions

Wandsworth Music share the stories of two of their young participants, Arylese and Sophia.

“I believe that Arelyse has found her voice attending music therapy sessions. We have been attending for just over a year and we continue because it is one of the few activities she seems to enjoy.  I’m guessing the sessions do not feel like work to her, but are both engaging and fun.  She runs into her sessions with anticipation and runs out with a wonderful smile. Since attending, Arelyse has started to make sounds more clearly; she has started to talk; and most recently, she has also started to sing! Songs that have big words in them sprouting entire sentences from songs; she is grasping so much language and harmonising also. I’m so excited for her; her confidence in speech has grown and the sessions have complimented her SLT that she is receiving at school. I’m so glad we attended these sessions – an enjoyable must for anyone who wants to see improvement in language development and confidence in speaking from their child.” 

Read the full case study here

A Community of Practice

In order to support the development of the Creative Health sector in the borough, Wandsworth Council worked with Breathe Arts Health & Research to develop a Community of Practice around Creative Social Prescribing in Wandsworth. This Community of Practice is open to all cultural organisations operating or interested in Creative Health and Social Prescribing.

Our next three sessions will focus on the challenges, successes and learnings from the 9 commissions of Arts for Health & Wellbeing pilot programme:

Thursday 14th March, 2-4pm at the ROSE Clubroom (Nine Elms): Bounce Theatre’s Speech Bubble for children with emotional and communication needs, Creative Soul Dance by 9Elms Arts Ministry, Tara Coffee Mornings for Sanctuary Seekers, Sound Minds’ visual arts group for adults affected by mental health issues.

Thursday 16th May, 2-4pm at Balham Library: Melodies for Mums by Breathe Arts Health Research, Katherine Low Settlement’s sewing projects for older adults, Wandsworth Music Therapy for children, GLL’s CathARTism (arts for mental health), MovementWorks (movement therapy for teenagers on the autism spectrum), plus Artsy Beans (art therapy for sanctuary seeking children) by The Baked Bean Charity.

Weds 10th July, 2-4pm (TBC): What challenges do you need help with? Safe space discussion, enquire for more details.

For more information about the Community of Practice or ways to integrate your creative health activity as part of Wandsworth’s Social Prescribing offer, please contact Arts for Health & Wellbeing lead Lelia Greci on [email protected].

Joint Local Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2024-2029

The Joint Local Health & Wellbeing Strategy sets out Wandsworth’s vision over the next five years on how to meet the health and wellbeing needs of Wandsworth residents to ensure that Wandsworth continues to be a great place to live.

The strategy follows a life course approach which recognises a wide range of factors influencing mental and physical health and wellbeing which often cluster in the population at different life stages. The priority areas are grouped into three life stages i.e., Start Well, Live Well and Age Well.

Start Well identifies the main priorities as self-harm and mental health, obesity, immunisations, and A&E attendances or hospital admissions caused by unintentional and deliberate injury.

Live Well identifies the main priorities as immunisations, a range of long-term conditions, cancer screening uptake, and the impacts of air quality & climate change on health. Priorities were also identified around mental health & suicide, and health behaviours such as smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and healthy eating.

Age Well identifies the main priorities as falls, dementia, and social isolation.

We’ve identified the projects supported by the Arts for Health and Wellbeing Fund using these priority areas.