Enhancing personal and social wellbeing
At Creative Wellbeing we believe that a better world is possible and between us we have all the assets we need to create it.
We find ourselves in a context in which profit is prioritised over quality of life and decisions originate largely from a position of fear and dominance, rather than love and empowerment.
Creative Wellbeing has been a lifeline to me. It has helped me to meet some wonderful people, got me out of the house and recognising my own skills and creativity.
The language we have used—and defined ourselves and our systems by—has frequently limited the scope and depth of enquiry we have pursued in understanding the variables which affect human wellbeing.
Accompanying this is a deafening cacophony of impending doom, inescapable apocalypse and entropy, which has been drip-fed into our lives and subconscious, affecting the way in which we consider humans capable or, decidedly and tragically, incapable.
Common to many of the issues related to wellbeing, is the theme of disconnection. Services are disconnected from the public, individuals are isolated from one another, opportunity is disconnected from those who need it, whilst those charged with decision-making are disconnected from the realities of the lives their decisions and attitudes impact. From those elected into service; to media outlets; to business leaders; to local authorities; to service providers; to commissioners; to frontline staff; to the opinionated public—the disconnect is tangible.
Creative Wellbeing gets me out of the house and has helped me develop my confidence in every aspect of life. I learn new skills and feel I am managing better. I feel positive, motivated and more creative and have had my medication reduced twice since starting coming to sessions. I experiment with my daughter more and have lots more ideas to play and help her learn. It has opened my mind to the things that I can do for myself and for my family.
In developing Creative Wellbeing it became apparent that, as a priority, it must seek to connect. Connect aspects of people’s creative capacity into their everyday lives; connect community members; connect otherwise isolated individuals, services and groups; linking creative, skilled professionals to the people who can benefit from them—connecting the language used in theory, to practice.
Creative Wellbeing embraces creativity in all of its diverse forms, providing opportunities for community members, creative individuals and organisations interested in supporting individuals and communities, to thrive.
As part of the development of CW, we identified three core aspects integral to the theme of connection; inclusion, collaboration and innovation. Without inclusion, we perpetuate exclusions. Without collaboration, we limit the means by which we can join up services and the valuable existing work taking place in communities. Without innovation, we fail to develop appropriate needs-based solutions to existing problems.
CW provides creative activities as a means to enhance personal and social wellbeing. Community sessions are open to all members of the adult population of an area, with a view to integrating community members within a supported forum. This creates a ‘soft’ means by which we can gently, but robustly, challenge some of the stigma and stereotypes developed through the lack of interaction, dialogue and understanding within our communities.
Activities are facilitated by trained, creative professionals—with diverse and specific creative inquiry and process skill-sets—local to the areas in which they are delivered. This has promoted the valuable contribution these people and their skills can make to society, and created paid employment, skills-exchange, volunteering and work experience opportunities.
I’ve got so much out of it, I don’t know where to begin! I was new to Carlisle, lonely and had a stressful job, Creative Wellbeing has been a home from home for me!
Activities are provided free at the point of access, allowing individuals who would otherwise be excluded on the basis of low income and poverty from taking part in such a service, to have equal access and support, irrespective of their ability to afford it.
A huge cohort of collaborating, supporting partners signpost into CW as an independent, inclusive and non-judgmental forum, with CW able to informally and supportively refer individuals into these services and support networks where appropriate.
The benefit to individuals engaging in Creative Wellbeing has been significant and as diverse as the people who have become involved. People engage according to their personal requirements; some attending just a couple of sessions, some attending ad hoc depending on other life commitments, and some attending every session provided. Benefits reported include; raising confidence, improved mental health, improved physical health, reducing medication, better parenting, feeling a part of something, feeling accepted, developing self-awareness, creating a supportive community, learning new skills, developing employability, supporting an individual to develop an entrepreneurial business model, individuals engaging in further and higher education programmes, accessing local partner services otherwise unknown to community members, recognising own skills, breaking down stigma, making friends, lowering anxiety, gaining work experience, volunteering opportunities, and generally feeling more able to deal with the difficult things that inevitably come up in life. What may sound anecdotal to some, in reality, is a significant improvement in the quality of life of someone else.
Going to Creative Wellbeing is like having a massage in a way for me, it feels good and you are really relaxed when you’re there, but when you leave you’re so uplifted and positive, and that’s when I feel the real benefit; for the rest of the week.
We have the skills for a wellbeing model—now to develop the appropriate resources and financial investment.
To give you an idea of the context CW has been developed in, allow me to visualise for you…
Imagine yourself in the centre of a playing field, juggling with the variables of your service/role. There are goalposts visible, but these keep moving, become smaller and change shape. Meanwhile, the ground is moving—the occasional chasm opening up beneath your feet—with very few organisations having not been affected by significant restructures and the rationalising of services into diminished or now non-existent budgets. Concurrently, you are being shat on by the birds overhead, as those disengaged from wellbeing dialogues are quick to diminish the work you are doing because it does not perpetuate or support their agendas. Then, there are the rocks flying in your direction, as detractors seek to undermine any achievements—perhaps in feeling it highlights their own agendas, that they should have thought of whatever you’re doing first or maybe perceiving themselves in direct competition with your efforts. It’s a satirist’s dream, but then there are the cheers and smiling faces of those whose lives have been substantially improved through access to the very thing that’s kept you wrestling/hot-stepping/dancing in the name of wellbeing.
They welcome everyone and it feels like home and in some cases better than home. Everyone that comes feels the difference straight away. They’re treated as human beings.
My experience has been that while this is a developing international dialogue, it is not a ubiquitously easy one, and efforts in this arena have myriad affecting factors. The fact remains that the potential impact is compelling, worthwhile and incredibly cost effective, and what else is there if there is no quality of life?
As a species, our creativity, as a problem-solving, divergent thinking skill, has been core to our ability to survive, be resilient to the world around us and to live well and thrive.
Creative Wellbeing is developed on the premise of our abundant social capital—the skills of our species and our capacity to improve wellbeing for all.
If you are interested in investing in, collaborating with, supporting or finding out more about Creative Wellbeing, please visit our website or contact us directly.