Creative Therapies Fund

I’m unbelievably excited to jump on here and let you know the fantastic news. Which is… that the Mind Creative Therapies fund, that I was involved with founding a couple of years back, has just issued it’s second round of funding!  A total of over £40,000 is set to benefit a series of eight creative projects throughout England and Wales.

Last week I was sent this PDF from Mind and I’m lost for words. I can’t quite believe that this thing has it’s own momentum. That it’s really happening and that right now everyday people are benefiting from this. Over £40,000 has gone out to help people get better through creativity.

Set to benefit this time around: a film making project in Darlington with over 150 participants. Sheffield Mind will be offering 3 ten week courses that merge mindfulness techniques and creative expression. In Dudley a series of reading and creative writing groups. In Solihull there will be a weekly two hour art therapy session for 12 – 15 participants. In Croydon, 2 five month long photography courses along with the equipment needed. In Haringey a creative art therapy course has been running for a couple of years but their local council cut the funding, thankfully the creative therapies fund has been able to help and the 20 week course will continue to run. Meanwhile in Leeds, in the last round of funding rent for a studio space was provided, that was used by over 400 people, now it houses 12 artists studios and 8 further artists visit. It’s thriving! This time the fund has been able to support an artist mentorship program there.

For those of you who aren’t up to speed with all this. Just to quickly fill you in. I died for a few seconds when I was 19. It was terrifying and was caused by a very extreme allergic reaction. There’s no need to go into huge detail here, but essentially I left hospital with a anxiety disorder that ruled my life for several years and a phobia of swallowing that became a full blown eating disorder. Long and short of it – I tried just about everything to get better, therapy, groups, even a shamanic sweat lodge! And the answer was right under my nose all along, expressing myself through my art.

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Anyway, back in 2012 I came together with Mind (the mental health charity), quickly an idea hatched to create a specific grant fund within Mind to put money directly into creative therapies throughout England and Wales. I obviously had first hand experience of how powerful that could be! I knew that where sometimes it’s hard to explain how I feel with words, a picture can tell a thousand. I always wished I was offered a therapeutic environment, with someone trained in helping people like me, to do that in. We put together a fundraiser at the Imperial War Museum and exhibition at the Old Vic Tunnels, it was hosted by Stephen Fry and Lord melvyn Bragg, and was generously supported by my friends from the Aloysius Society, the kind donations of some wonderful artists including the Chapman Brothers, Tracey Emin, Matt Collishaw, many more and several volunteers. Well the result was the initial funding for the grant, and the first round of grants. All sorts of projects benefitted in that first phase which funded all sorts, from piano’s and sheet music, art materials and even a choir. I’m now an ambassador for the charity and I’m humbled and extremely honoured to help however I can.

This second round of funding builds on that solid foundation and was made possible by the extremely generous donations of a few wonderful donors and some match funding from Mustafa Trust.

My biggest heartfelt thanks goes out to those that supported this, on behalf of all of those that are benefiting right now.

I’m extremely excited to see the future of this fund develop and hope and pray that one day, anyone experiencing any kind of mental distress will have the opportunity to open a door to self expression and ultimately to deep healing and peace.

Please take the time to read this which details the fabulous work the fund has done, and continues to do. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to come up with a way you might be able to contribute to the next round.

Thank you to everyone who’s played a part in this!

Stuart