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Arts on prescription: debut scheme at Mansfield Museum and Palace Theatre

Posted onPosted on 4th Aug

A new weekly post-Covid support group has started running in Mansfield District Council Cultural Services’ first ‘arts on prescription’ project.

Make a Start Mansfield is being run by Mansfield Museum at the town’s Palace Theatre every Thursday from 12.30pm to 2pm until 26 August and is aimed at vulnerable or elderly people who have been isolated throughout the pandemic.

The group was set up to help people get back on their feet after the lockdowns and be a safe space where people can make new friends and build up their confidence while learning to mix with people again. They can relax, enjoy a cuppa, a biscuit, and a chat, and take part in a range of activities.

The project is made possible thanks to the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. Community transport for the project is being provided by the Mansfield Community Champions project, which seeks to support local people throughout the pandemic.

Amy Wojnar, whose grandmother, attended the first session of the group, said: “Thank you so much, Mansfield Museum! Our grandma has been very isolated over lockdown and these sessions are giving her confidence to go out again. She thoroughly enjoyed the first one and is looking forward to attending again.”

Coun Stuart Richardson, portfolio holder for regeneration and growth, said: “We know the lockdowns and the need to shield have been long, hard and isolating for many people.

“Now, for some people, having the confidence to venture out again and return to normal social activities is a big step. This group aims to help those who need a bit of support to make that first step.

“The museum has, for a while, been running support events to help people with dementia, for instance, and this is an extension of those community focused activities which the council’s Cultural Services team in the theatre and museum is hoping to develop in the coming months as part of a social prescribing strategy.”

Sian Booth, cultural services manager, explained:  “Arts on prescription is basically when arts activities are prescribed instead of, or as well as, medication or other therapies, and it aligns well with the council’s long-term priority to improve the wellbeing of local people.

“There is a growing body of evidence that active involvement in creative activities provides a wide range of benefits, including the promotion of wellbeing. This, in turn, can improve a person’s quality of life and health, and bring a wider benefit to a community.

“It’s an emerging form of health care based on integration and this is the first time Mansfield District Council has led a socially prescribed project.

“In this case Social Prescribing Link Workers have referred local people to Make a Start Mansfield because they are experiencing frailty, long term health conditions or social isolation. The activity is facilitated by artists rather than therapists and focuses on reminiscence and building confidence.”

These schemes, in which NHS agencies connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical health and emotional support, can be of particular benefit to patients with one or more long-term conditions, or who need support with mental health problems, loneliness or isolation, or who have complex social needs.

Being involved in creative and socially engaging activities helps people in their recovery or in managing chronic conditions.

The Make a Start Mansfield sessions are fully booked now but there may be the occasional cancellation. Email education manager Christopher Neil at [email protected] or call 07903 560056 for more details or to find out about similar activities being planned.