As previously announced, Art & Soul are delighted to have been the recipient of an £8,000 grant from the Baring Foundation for the development of our Junior Art & Soul project. The project aims to help children and young people in South West London who are facing mental health challenges, and this unique funding opportunity has allowed us to research and develop responsive models of working, form new partnerships and engage in important knowledge-sharing and learning. We are now pleased to share some preliminary findings from the project evaluation, ahead of our full report which will be published later this month. This blog is written by workshop assistant Olivia Bladen who worked on Junior Art & Soul sessions at the Priory Hospital and took part in the evaluation process.
Junior Art & Soul has encompassed work with children and young people accessing CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) through Achieving for Children's Emotional Health Service, the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust Adolescent Outreach Team and the Priory Hospital. (For an insight into some of these creative workshops, don’t miss our blog posts about sessions with staff and young people at the Priory Hospital, and a video of a session with the AOT staff). In order to capture and assess our findings, Art & Soul have been working with external Researcher and Evaluator Siân Hunter Dodsworth. Siân has been gathering feedback from everyone involved in the project: the children and young people, their parents and guardians, the staff at the partner organisations, and the Art & Soul staff and practitioners. This has been incredibly important in building a full picture of the project from every angle.
To assess the impact on participants’ wellbeing, we used the same methods as in all Art & Soul sessions: the industry recognized UCL Wellbeing Measures and the Warwick Edinburgh Wellbeing (WEBWMS) scales. From these and other feedback forms, we have heard a variety of accounts from the children and young people. What largely seemed to stand out to them about the sessions was the processes and materials they had tried, with quotes such as:
"I really enjoyed printing and the stamps were so cool!"; "I liked creating a painting and drawing”
"Really nice themes and amazing colours"
We also heard from a parent of one participant:
“H enjoyed the session last week and loved making the leaf prints. I have attached a photo of her work that she finished over the weekend. We had an Art afternoon, even got her brother painting too. Thank you… for such a creative and interesting group incorporating walks etc. It is great.”
Meanwhile, one participant recounted:
"I made an artwork I'm proud of".
We were pleased to find the sessions inspired creativity at home, with participants continuing to create artworks outside of the sessions, and that they were proud to share.
Look out for our next blog, where we will share what our partners and project facilitators had to say about the project.