How creativity and culture are supporting shielding and vulnerable people at home during Covid-19

Artwork created in response to the theme ‘Bravery’, created during lockdown in April 2020 with Art & Soul
Artwork by Brindi created in response to the theme ‘Bravery’ during lockdown (April 2020) with Art & Soul

July 2020 report

Our July 2020 report, How creativity and culture is supporting shielding and vulnerable people at home during Covid-19, is based on case studies of almost 50 projects in England and Wales, all of whom have created new programmes or adapted existing work to reach people who are shielding or vulnerable in their homes. You can hear more about the report and this work in this 16 July webinar for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health & Wellbeing. (For a further report and case studies of work reaching people in institutions including hospitals, care homes, and prisons please see this page.)



The report is intended to bring to light the scope, breadth and reach of the work that cultural and creative organisations and individuals have been doing since lockdown to reach the most vulnerable in our communities, and the immense creativity and care with which this work has been designed.

“Creative Care packages have been sent to some of our most vulnerable families and have proved to be a lifeline to those that are engaging with them... Many, many thanks to all involved in bringing this opportunity to our community.” (Cambridge Curiosity & Imagination’s Creative Care programme)

Almost all of the case studies in this report were undertaken in partnership – with local government, health, and/or third sector partners. It is this collaborative approach, together with a commitment to building responsive projects from the ground up, that has supported people’s creativity at the height of a national crisis. The skills, time and energy required for this work are undervalued, however. We hope this report will help us learn from what has worked during the crisis; and that it will help make the case for comprehensive financial and infrastructural support for work that will be as vital to our recovery as it has been a lifeline during lockdown.

Key points

  1. Case studies from 50 arts, culture  & heritage organisations 
  2. targeting people shielding or vulnerable at home during covid
  3. total reach - over 100,000 people
  4. projects used phone / post / online
  5. tackling variety of health conditions, overwhelmingly addressing loneliness and isolation
  6. 94% conducted in partnership to ensure the work reaches the people who need it:
    • 69% with voluntary and community sector organisations
    • 50% with local authorities
    • 48% in partnership with the NHS


We recommend that leaders in health, social care, local government and culture give serious consideration to these organisations and practitioners who have been so vital for the wellbeing and cohesion of our communities during the covid crisis, and learn from the ways in which they have worked. 

In particular, these case studies suggest the following needs:

  • Significant investment in socially engaged creative and cultural practice - including all elements (partnership development, coproduction, signposting, pastoral care, practitioner support, logistics, and so on)
  • Investment in partnerships between culture, local government, the NHS and the third sector which supports creative and cultural ‘providers’
  • Investment in the networks and alliances (national, regional and local) that support socially engaged practitioners and organisations to continue and develop their work and partnerships, collect data and advocate for this work collectively on their behalf
  • Research and evaluation support for the sector in general and to better understand the impact and process of working remotely 

Sincere thanks to the organisations - with programmes reaching 100,000 of the most vulnerable people in our communities - who have found time despite everything to respond to our call for case studies. You can read about all of their work by scrolling down below - the case studies are ordered by organisation, in alphabetical order.

Art & Soul, Arts Derbyshire, Arts Development Company, Aspex, the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Butterflies, Cambridge Curiousity & Imagination, Celebrating Age Wiltshire, Colchester & Ipswich Museums, Coram, Christchurch Belles WI, Create, Creative Learning Guild, Creative Minds, darts, Denbighshire Leisure Ltd Community Arts, Devon Recovery & Learning College, Dream Time Creative, Escape Arts, Free Space Project, Fun Palaces, Garden Museum, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Inclusive Intergenerational Dance (iID), Intermission Youth, Live Music Now, Look Again, Luv2MeetU, Magic Me, Manchester Museum, Museum of London, Museum of Oxford, National Archives, National Museums Liverpool, Open Art Box, The Reader, Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Southbank Centre, South London Gallery, Suffolk Artlink, Tees, Esk & Wear Valley NHS Recovery College, Salisbury Arts Centre, Theatre Orchard, University of Cambridge Museums, Verd de Gris, Wiltshire Creative, Yorkshire Dance...

Project: Remote Connectivity
Organisation: Art & Soul
Region: Greater London

‘Remote Connectivity’, devised by art therapists and the Art & Soul team, is a three-month online programme designed to reduce isolation and assist with maintaining mental and emotional wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Adults with mental health issues in South-West London were posted a pack of art materials and art therapist-devised expressive activities were released via Facebook on a weekly basis, to a private Facebook group, moderated by the art therapist and project coordinator. Activities were posted or emailed to those who do not use Facebook. Additionally the art therapist and project coordinator hold Zoom calls and private calls with participants to support wellbeing during this time. Remote Connectivity developed an online sense of community for Art & Soul, and resulted in much positive feedback and an increased sense of confidence after taking part.

Project: Necklace of Stars
Organisation: Arts Derbyshire
Region: East Midlands

arthur+martha are working with housebound, isolated older people at home through remote engagements (post, email and phone) and we hope in person in 2021. Together, artists and participants will make an embroidered quilt with a poem & song soundtrack inspired by lullabies. Lullabies bring calm & comfort, & also tell insightful stories that pass on the depth of human experience from generation to generation.

Artwork, creative writing & song pass between tellers, each building on previous contributions to add to the whole, a technique arthur+martha used successfully in hospitals: combating isolation, constructing group narratives, reflecting many voices.

The project will build confidence & wellbeing, reduce loneliness, forge connections, re- ignite creativity. We will celebrate the work with community/participant events, alongside a 12-month exhibition tour, including Derbyshire Libraries & Museums & Sudbury Hall.

Project: Arts at Home
Organisation: Arts Development Company
Region: South West England

This project was a direct response to the pandemic situation. We re-directed funding for an existing programme to support vulnerable adults who were lonely, isolated, experiencing poor mental health and adults with learning disabilities. While we were no longer able to deliver the planned programme of artist-led activities for these target groups, we could re-design the approach.  The project aimed to commission high quality interactive experiences designed by artists (multiple art forms) and able to be delivered digitally and by post. We ensured the vulnerable groups could be reached through working in partnership with Adult Social Care colleagues at Dorset Council and through additional networks including local foodbanks. We wanted to provide experiences that could take place more than once so people accessing them could do so regularly and have something to look forwards to and feel part of a shared experience. 

Project: Generate
Organisation: Aspex
Region: South West England

Aspex has been running Generate, a weekly programme of art workshops for people with dementia and a self-led carers support group, since 2015.

Our workshop facilitators and therefore have built a trust and understanding with everyone in the group. Training in Dementia Awareness has been provided to all staff and volunteers, including those directly working on the project and general office and front of house staff.

We normally host exhibitions of participant work, as well as celebration events and trips to other arts organisations – however, these have all had to stop for now. In place of this we are running weekly chats via WhatsApp and sharing of artworks digitally, we have posted materials to all our participants to enable working from home and we also offer telephone & post exchanges for those who do not have digital access.

Project: Museum of You
Organisation: The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
Region: South East England

The aim of Museum of You was to produce a high-quality exhibition that captured the local experience of lockdown. The exhibition call-outs focused on MIND's 6 Ways to Wellbeing. With each call-out was an accompanying newsletter containing evidence-based, accessible activities designed to improve Health & Wellbeing while at home. Alongside the open call, a targeted approach was employed to ensure that as many groups as possible would be able to participate and that the exhibition would truly reflect the demographic of the local community. By hosting this opportunity, more people will have access to the therapeutic value of the arts, particularly in what is acknowledged to be a very challenging time for people's physical and mental health.

Alongside the Museum of You we ran a “Creating Heritage Blog” from the day that the museum closed: a digital record of life during lockdown, with contributions from museum staff, volunteers, local school children, artists, healthcare professionals and staff from other arts organisations. A poet was commissioned to use the blog's contents as inspiration to write a poem, the content of which will be printed on to floor vinyls to act as social distancing reminders. These floor vinyls are important interventions in the museum to manage people's anxiety by providing a more pleasant way of providing social distancing measures.

Project: Creative Care Programme
Organisation: Cambridge Curiosity & Imagination
Region: East England

The Creative Care Programme has developed invitations and resources to support people of all ages to be creative at home. Where possible these are delivered as part of ‘creative care packs’ but are also free to download or access on line. To date five artists have designed a series of 12  ‘invitations to create’ to help people rediscover the world on their doorsteps in creative ways. These have been distributed within 357 packs alongside specially chosen materials selected by the artists. These invitations encourage people to go out into the world around them, and reconnect with all their senses and with the pleasures of noticing, listening, making and shaping. Four focus on the families with younger children, four on teenagers and four for adults of any age. They all need only the simplest of materials and everyday objects and require no special art skills. The Creative Care packages include high quality art materials and open ended resources selected by the artists. Online support trialled to date has included artists joining Zoom classroom sessions (primary school partner) and WhatsApp weekly meetings (The Kite Trust group) as well as emails and phone-calls to encourage engagement and dialogue. Small films are being developed to support each invitation and build connections with the artists. Plans are being developed to develop a future iteration of the box and support with a youth panel for the County.

Organisation: Celebrating Age Wiltshire
Region: South West England

CAW is a health and wellbeing project which uses arts, heritage, culture and creativity as a vehicle to improve or maintain the health and wellbeing of older people, including those who are socially isolated or vulnerable due to dementia, reduced mobility, ill health or caring responsibilities. CAW Phase 1 provided free monthly events in 6 different community areas of Wiltshire, bringing older people together in local, accessible community venues, with a focus on connecting with other people, being active and keeping learning. CAW Phase 2 has been re-structured since Covid-19 to enable us to continue to reach the most isolated older people in 10 community areas through five key strands of activity:

  1. On-line concerts and events;
  2. Outdoor concerts and small-scale theatre;
  3. 1:1 creative conversations via telephone;
  4. 1:1 creative conversations in individuals’ homes;
  5. Wiltshire Postcards – a postal project across the county.

The project explores culture and creativity in its broadest sense – heritage, reminiscence, storytelling, reading, theatre, food and cultural traditions, music, dance, visual arts and crafts. 

Project: Museum from Home
Organisation: Colchester & Ipswich Museums
Region: East of England

The ‘Museum from Home’ activity packs began as an in-house initiative filled with materials stripped from our craft cupboards. Unprecedented demand and positive partnerships saw the idea snowball.  

Staff were concerned about the abundance of online activities and the expectation on families i.e. that they could print worksheets, had unlimited data to stream videos, had craft supplies or knew to visit a cultural website for activities. We wanted to meet the most vulnerable where they were, via organisations they knew and trusted. If we could provide the means, all families needed was imagination.

Staff asked existing community partners if resources would be helpful for their clients and received a cacophony of ‘Yeses!’. Families were already in crisis and fast action was vital.

The speed at which we consulted and involved community partners in getting the packs to those in need is thanks to several years working together and building trust. Through those partnerships we are building pathways to engage new audiences. We hope the packs will introduce non-visitors to Ipswich Museums, enabling them to engage with our collections and feel encouraged to visit in the future.

Project: Letters in Lockdown
Organisation: Coram
Region: Greater London (national)

Letters in Lockdown was a series of six creative writing workshops, delivered in partnership between Coram and the Royal Literary Fund via Zoom. Coram was originally founded in 1739 as “The Foundling Hospital” and participants explored material from the organisation’s historic archive and used it as inspiration to write their own letters, on a different theme each week. This included writing letters to people who have influenced them, discussing how Covid19 has impacted them and their hopes and aspirations for the future. The participants also experimented with “mail art” to add additional layers of meaning to their work.

Alongside the workshops, we held 5 “drop in” sessions, where participants could share their work, receive feedback from the peers and receive support. At the end of the project, an additional celebration session was held where participants shared their completed letters with senior representatives from Coram, the Royal Literary Fund and each other.

The letters are being posted/couriered to Coram (one is a letter in a bottle so could not go through the normal post) and will be displayed once lockdown has sufficiently eased. The pieces will also be incorporated into our “Story of Care” website, which will be relaunched early in 2021.

Organisation: Butterflies / Creative Minds
Region: Yorkshire & Humber

Butterflies is a registered charity. It provides a dementia and Alzheimer’s project which has adapted its ways of working and practice through the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • We provide a bank of 13 volunteers who make phone calls twice a week to approximately 10 members each. We offer support, a friendly voice, updates of events and general conversations
  • We offer a book and activities distribution service to help keep them stimulated and occupied
  • We offer a reconnect service now lockdown procedures are easing to try and eliminate isolation and promote engagement with friends following Government guidelines
  • We work closely with Barnsley Museums, who distribute activity and reminiscent packs to all our members
  • We work together with Qdos Creates to offer video links to indoor chair exercise, alongside drawing, creative and artistic sessions to our members
  • We also email film clips of activities carried out in the previous year so they can reminisce over past outings with friends they have not seen for many months
  • Butterflies is part of a dementia crisis line offering telephone support between the hours of 8pm and 12am, seven days a week. This is available for people with dementia and in particular their carers.

Organisation: Create
Region: National

Create formed a partnership with The Honeypot Children’s Charity to reach out to increasing numbers of young carers who have been isolated during the coronavirus pandemic. We joined forces to bring online creative projects to dozens of young carers from England and Wales. The work began in Carers Week.

Four projects were planned initially over four weeks: photography, dance, music and drama. The workshops, which were run by our professional artists, gave the young carers respite from their everyday lives, boosted their self-esteem and creativity, and gave them a chance to connect with other young carers. Young carers are particularly vulnerable to depression and anxiety, especially during the lockdown, and creativity can provide them with a vital lifeline: a chance to express themselves, build skills and enhance self-esteem, aiding wellbeing.

Project: Crafty Corner
Organisation: Christchurch Belles WI
Region: South West

Crafty Corner is open to all 71 members, however is normally a group of between 15 and 24 members. We meet monthly at a community hall to undertake craft projects and share skills. We recognised that during the COVID 19 outbreak isolation of members who were living alone or shielding could become an issue. We kept in contact with all members by email however felt that the craft group could meet by ‘Zoom’. The original Zoom meeting was designed to bring together the range of community activities being undertaken by members to support the NHS and key workers. Members were sewing scrubs, scrub bags, hair bands and ear savers, crafting hearts and flowers to give to patients and families and small gifts to provide to local care home residents who were not seeing family and friends. Fabric face coverings are currently being created and sold to raise money for the local food bank. Alongside these community activities Crafty Corner had a weekly Zoom meeting to share ideas and allow attendees to discuss the effects of lockdown. Craft challenges were set to encourage all attendees to try new skills.

Project: Arts Drop
Organisation: Creative Learning Guild
Region: Yorkshire & Humber

Arts Drop provides clinician-approved creative activity packs that use arts and culture to boost wellbeing for the most vulnerable children.

It was designed to reach children and young people (CYP) identified by the local authority as the most vulnerable. This encompassed:

  • Children deemed at risk of abuse and neglect
  • Children looked after
  • Young carers
  • Children with refugee or asylum seeker status

We knew these CYP would have little / no access to online content and even if they did, may not have access to the basic art materials often assumed to be available. We also knew that these CYP would be living in chaotic and stressed households where the benefits of tailored arts activities could have significant impact.

The Arts Drop framework was created by specialist Arts & Health clinician Elaine Burke to ensured that activity would map to the developmental needs of CYP within 3 distinct age brackets: Early years, primary and secondary. This framework also ensures that any materials needed to undertake activity are provided and that activity is emotionally and psychologically safe for children living in difficult circumstances.

Packs were distributed to CYP and their families by social workers and key workers.

Project: Creative Directions
Organisation: darts
Region: Yorkshire & Humber

From a series of telephone interviews to sustain contact with participants, establish individual needs and understand barriers and opportunities to access content remotely, we identified a real diversity of need.

Many were struggling, particularly those who live alone and most were experiencing increased anxiety as a result of lockdown or fear around the coronavirus pandemic. Around 45-50% of participants have no internet access or are not confident in using technology.

We have adapted our existing activity through structured videos online, creative stimulus in the form of visual arts and music activity packs and some live group work via Zoom. However, for 45-50% of our group getting online just wasn’t an option.

With this in mind we wanted to introduce the creation and delivery of physical creative packs. We aim to create 6 new activity books which can be delivered each month between June and December 2020, to deliver door to door to our most vulnerable participants. Each box will include enough activities/ challenges for the month, with materials to support this. Our staff will then return, bringing a new creative pack, and photographing participants (with permission) with completed artwork they wish to keep.

Creative writers who are currently involved are Ian McMillan (poet and broadcaster, Lydia Allison (darts Young Poet in Residence) and Gittika Buttoo (who has been working with us on the National Theatre’s Public Acts programme). Eleven Design in Sheffield have a number of illustrators who will collaborate with us on the books.

Project: Lost in art
Organisation: Denbighshire Leisure Ltd’s Community Arts Programme
Region: North Wales

Lost in art is a visual arts project aimed at people living with dementia, along with their family carers. The aim of the project is to explore the role of the visual arts in addressing issues which can affect people with dementia, including social isolation, confidence, communication, lack of independence and quality of life and wellbeing. The project was developed with the support of the Dementia Services Development Centre at Bangor University. In response to the pandemic and its restrictions on face to face contact we are now delivering a remote Lost in Art service. Art Boxes for home delivery, electronic instruction sheets, short tutorial films, phone calls and What’s App groups for keeping in touch and peer support and signposting to additional support when needed.

The Remote Lost in Art principles have been used to develop tailor-made packs for our other services users as well during the lock down, including our work with care homes residents, with the frail elderly who are shielding, Stroke survivors, adults with learning disabilities, those living with terminal illnesses such as motor neuron disease and those living with mental health problems.  


Organisation: Devon Recovery Learning Community (DRLC)
Region: South West England

With lockdown, the opportunity presented itself for the DRLC to develop a lively and three-dimensional online platform which has proven to be very successful. As well as offering over 40 courses through video-conferencing, we have also taken on over 100 new students who might not have otherwise normally accessed our courses face-to-face.

Numbers of students attending the online platform are shielding or self-isolating, many do not drive or find travel using public transport a barrier to attending our courses and so having courses they can attend online offers a helpful and accessible alternative. Some have expressed that they find attending courses online less stressful and that they feel more comfortable in their own surroundings.

As well as video-conferencing, the DRLC also offers online tutorials that tutors have uploaded on youtube, which include Imagination and Wellbeing, the Art of Wellbeing, Isolation Art Classes, craft tutorials, and more.

We also offer links and resources as well as activities and craft, including puzzles, jigsaws, mindful colouring and other printables.

Project: Door Step Creations
Organisation: Dream Time Creative / Creative Minds
Region: Yorkshire & Humber

FREE craft kits straight to your doorstep! This project has allowed us to post out free craft kits to the community of Wakefield, with six different crafts in total. Each kit contains the materials required, written instructions and a link to the craft tutorials on our YouTube page.

The project is also supported by a public Facebook group where the participants have been sharing their creative journeys through photos, encouragement to others, and their written responses to the activities and the pandemic.

Door Step Creations has helped to break down isolation barriers and ignite creative imaginations. One of the Door Step Creation packs contained the materials to make Rag Rugs including ribbons & backing hessian, and a printed history of rug making.  The packs contain detailed instructions to enable people to make the rugs from things they may have at home such as old clothing and this will enable the sessions to take place.

We were honoured to have been awarded “outstanding service to the community” by Ed Anderson, Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, and two of our crafts were featured on BBC Radio Leeds.

Project: The One project
Organisation: Escape Arts
Region: West Midlands

The One project is a creative pack which has lots of creative inspiration for all ages aimed to connect people and spread a positive message of friendship and hope. The pack will be distributed across Warwickshire through hospital discharge teams and through partnership groups supporting our shielded communities. The project will also work closely with George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton and Warwick Hospital to provide resources for patients and staff teams. To capture this moment in time, those taking part will be invited to share their work which will then be collated and will contribute to public artwork in our hospitals. 

The publication will frame uplifting engagement activities, accessible to all, which promote positive wellbeing messages of hope, community, friendship and resilience, with a focus on world friendship day on 30 July and our planned international exchange. The activities will act as a positive focus but also a creative capture of people’s stories and experiences during lockdown. The project will delivered and co-hosted through established Sitting Rooms of Culture Facebook site and all Escape Arts social media and web platforms. 

Organisation: Free Space Project
Region: Greater London

Free Space Project are distributing a number of art boxes to patients that have been shielding during the pandemic. The boxes are full of art materials and creative activities that encourage patients to explore the impact that shielding has had on them. The project is in partnership with clinical leads from the James Wigg GP practice and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. Work collected from the patients will be displayed in a public exhibition in Kentish Town Health Centre.

Project: Tiny Revolutions of Connection
Organisation: Fun Palaces
Region: National (UK)

We have always said that Fun Palaces are about the tiniest of connections, person to person – and that the process of creating a Fun Palace is easily as important as what happens on the weekend. As we say in our Manifesto: We believe we can do this together, locally, with radical fun – and that anyone, anywhere, can make a Fun Palace.
Now it’s time to give it a try…

We are sharing practical suggestions, tiny steps anyone can take to connect a little more in their local community or simply pass time creatively in self-isolation. These steps are both online and OFFline – while a great deal of connection is moving online right now, this is not available to everyone and we want Fun Palaces, as ever, to be for anyone who wants to connect.

Organisation: Fun Palaces
Region: Highland region, Scotland

This project has been designed for NHS Highland’s Mental Health Service to provide therapeutic activities already created and printed, to benefit patients in hospital and clients in the community, who have among them some of those most vulnerable and those shielding during COVID. This project aims to support the staff treating them, by saving staff-time and staff-resources as well as financial resources in a service which was already overstretched before the advent of COVID.

Project: Clay for Dementia
Organisation: Garden Museum
Region: Greater London

Clay for Dementia began at the Garden Museum in autumn 2017 as a pilot with Arts 4 Dementia. It has continued since its first 8-week course with the same teacher, some of the same volunteers and many of the same participants. All sessions and materials are free. People with dementia and their carers take part in ceramics sessions at the museum over a period of (usually) 6–8 weeks. The sessions are facilitated by the Head of Learning at the Museum but taught by a ceramicist, Katie Spragg, who also teaches at the Royal College of Art. Volunteers support the session, including two RCA students. We run about 3 sets of sessions a year – spring, summer and autumn/winter. We exhibit the outcomes at the museum.

During the lockdown, we held 6 sessions over April and May with a 3-week break and after consulting the group have just started another 6 sessions. Participants didn’t want to have the usual length of break between sessions, so we are planning to keep running as many sessions as possible whilst participants are at home shielding. The content of the lockdown sessions has been linked to exhibitions at the museum – our Sanctuary exhibition and currently Derek Jarman (participants are currently making homes out of clay inspired by Derek Jarman’s Dungeness home).

The online sessions have been a change of format - lasting one hour - and on zoom. Participants have been taught by demonstrations from Katie. Bags of clay and cutting wires were sent to the homes of the participants and powdered slips more recently for adding colour. Their greenware will be collected for firing and glazing.

Project: Creative Care kits
Organisation: Greater Manchester combined Authority
Region: North West England

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has been working with cultural sector organisations, GM i-THRIVE, Greater Manchester (GM)-wide Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and voluntary and community sector organisations to ensure that people who cannot connect online do not feel forgotten, are able to feel connected with others and are offered help with their mental health and wellbeing. We are doing this by creating and distributing a Creative Care Pack to be sent to individuals in their homes. The pack contains a range of activities that can be completed at home and using materials provided with the pack. Activities include a range of creative forms including music, writing, craft, horticulture and visual arts. Kits also include key telephone numbers for help and support as well as hints and tips to protect mental wellbeing.

We have distributed two Creative Care Kits to all 10 GM boroughs. Firstly 22,000 packs for young people (13-20 year-olds; our upper age limit is 20 rather than 18 so that we can include care-leavers). And in parallel 16,000 packs for older people who have little or no digital access.

Project: Behind Closed Doors, Smile Inside, and Tackling Inequalities
Organisation: Inclusive Intergenerational Dance (iID)
Region: South East & South West

Behind Closed Doors is funded by National Lottery Community Fund and was due to start in June 2020 working with isolated older people 2:1 in their own homes with the aim of engaging them in discussing to create movement and prose based on museum objects. While setting up a new Creative Lunch project (Seated dance, art and lunch) at The Pound Arts Centre, aimed at the frail elderly, people with dementia or other long term health conditions and their carers and a regular group for more physically able and younger ‘older people’ who have asked to be ‘challenged’ as they ‘don’t want to be patronised or left to sit to wait to die’ (participants on trial all reached through social prescribing as identified as lonely and or feeling isolated). This is in partnership with The Pound (NPO), Green Square sheltered housing and the local Health and wellbeing board and the local social prescribers linked to the CCG. The third aim is to work with partners to develop a clear offer for older people, dementia friendly venues and trips and support the people we meet to access these opportunities.

Smile Inside: We have collected stories from 20 people who normally attend one of our projects and who are shielding, live independently, and have little or no technology, asking them what they think about that makes them smile inside. We have then commissioned 20 freelance artists who are struggling at this time to create a response inspired by one of the stories and they have each been invited to pitch for one of 6 larger commissions to develop their work. We have also invited the community to read the stories and to be inspired to create a response. The creative responses can be in any art form, eg dance, poetry pottery, collage, baking or photography. We have made some suggestions but we are excited to see what people do. All the responses we receive we are sharing with the storytellers to put a smile on their faces. Finally when it is safe to do so we will hold an exhibition of all of the work and a celebratory event so the storytellers (and other participants who we have spoken to as part of this project) can meet the people who have responded and been inspired by them.

Lastly we have just received funding from Active Surrey to deliver Sport England Tackling Inequalities Project to engage vulnerable older adults in exercise through creative dance and will be delivering via zoom and in gardens in sheltered housing units and care homes over the next 3 months. 4 groups for 12 weeks each. In addition they have funded 8 additional zoom sessions to enable us to continue that provision to the end of October.

Organisation: Intermission Youth
Region: Greater London

Two or three weeks before lockdown began, we started to think about creative ways to engage with our young people. These are the outputs we have achieved during C-19:

  • Daily online pre-recorded video workshops ...
  • Weekly online pre-recorded Question Time videos in which industry leaders answer questions asked by our young people and graduates, including: Oscar-winning actor Sir Mark Rylance; award-winning actor and Intermission Youth Patron Naomie Harris; RSC director Robin Belfield; theatre critic & broadcaster Libby Purves; Royal Court director Ola Ince; Call the Midwife actor Jenny Agutter; EastEnders actor Rudolph Walker.
  • Weekly online Chill ’n Chat nights when the young people come into a safe online space to chill out, chat and be together ...
  • Weekly Saturday Watch Together, giving them a chance to come together online to watch a short film (in which some of our graduates took part), recordings of our youth theatre productions in which they featured, films, etc. ...
  • An online Zoom production over 2 evenings: Shakespeare’s Monologue Slams, in which 16 members of our youth theatre cohort and graduates created and rehearsed a Shakespeare monologue, re-imagined ...
  • Weekly online rehearsals of The Tempest ...
  • We have just launched the Intermission Film Festival in which we have invited youth theatre cohort members and graduates to produce a short (5 minute) film, in production groups of up to 6 (following government guidelines), shot on iPhone/android ...
  • An online Zoom Scratch Night in which about 12-18 of our youth theatre cohort members and graduates will perform in front of their peers (ie a closed audience) mid-July (singing, rap, spoken word….).
  • A daily 10-minute workout challenge, helping the young people to keep fit.
  • A fun Bards Beat video to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday in April, in which Intermission Youth team, young people and friends of Intermission took part in an ‘iambic pentameter’ rhythm challenge ...
  • Five of our young people were selected to be writers for a development film Hear My Voice, (a Billy Elliot story for opera turned on its head) - a co-production with 1961 Productions and Royal Opera House ...
  • Ongoing 1:1 support & mentoring via phone. Regular phone calls have been a highly important aspect of our work, as demonstrated by a recent survey carried out on our behalf by Relationships Foundation.

Project: Live Music Now at Home
Organisation: Live Music Now
Region: National (England, Wales, N.I.)

The complete Live Music Now at Home offer includes:
•    Pre-recorded online concerts from all around the country from a wide variety of genres, available on the LMN at Home video Libraries for care homes and school. The libraries will be updated with new concerts weekly
•    Interactive online residencies with care homes like this one here, with LMN musicians facilitating participatory music making with people living and working in care and Disabled CYP;
•    Bespoke concerts for care homes for special occasions (holidays, birthdays);
•    DVDs for care homes and people in the community who aren't able to access the online video library page;
•    Short films that share techniques for making music to help care teams develop their skills and confidence in that like this one here; and
•    Arranging, where musicians are local, outdoor/courtyard live music concerts like this one at the Leeds Recovery Hub.


Project: Covid-19 response: Friendships and relationships by Luv2meetU
Organisation: Creative Minds / Verd de Luv2MeetU
Region: Yorkshire & Humber

Due to the current coronavirus outbreak, Luv2meetU (friendship and dating agency for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism) have suspended all of face to face meetings with members. However, we are acutely aware that our members still need our support and that the current situation could result in many of them becoming increasingly socially isolated. Many of our members have underlying health conditions including having received kidney transplants, brain injury/ disease, diabetes and angina, and a number of them are shielding; making them at higher risk of becoming isolated.

Members usually pay a membership fee to access activities, but at present we have stopped charging as we are unable to offer face to face events. We are therefore providing a free service during the crisis period for our members.

This includes the provision already described above which are combination of online activities, support and help with using the technology which enable people to engage and reduce social isolation.

Project: Seeing with Fresh Eyes / My Severn / Reframe Your Now
Organisation: Look Again
Region: South West England

‘Seeing with Fresh Eyes’ is an 18-month project aimed at people in mid-life who are experiencing mental health challenges. We are working in partnership with Create Gloucestershire and four host non-profits: Nelson Trust (drugs and alcohol recovery), Headway Gloucestershire (head injuries), Maggie’s (Cancer Support) and Longfield (end of life care), who are all referring 10 service users onto four separate 4-8 week mindful photography courses. All participants have the opportunity to exhibit their photography at Gloucester Cathedral in early 2021. The University of Gloucestershire is carrying out research and evaluation of the whole project.

The ‘My Severn’ project is a partnership with ‘Unlocking the Severn’ - a project managed by the Canal & Rivers Trust. We are delivering 5 taster workshops, and two 6-week courses and two exhibitions based at the National Waterways Museum in Gloucester. The project forms a key part of the ‘Unlocking the Severn’ outreach and wellbeing objectives, developing relationships specifically non-profits and the public sector involved with mental health, multi-faith, multi-generational and multi-cultural related work.

The ‘Reframe Your Now’ 7-day free taster and ‘Reframe Your Now’ 4-week online courses are projects initiated by Look Again. The free taster has benefited huge numbers of people through our networks with non-profits and the public sector. The 4-week online courses that are providing opportunities to develop our work and share our methodology with much wider audience around the world as well as generate an income that is not reliant public or other funding. 

Project: The After Party
Organisation: Magic Me
Region: Greater London

Magic Me's longstanding, award-winning Cocktails in Care Homes project saw us throwing monthly cocktail parties in care homes and extra care schemes across London.

The After Party is Cocktails team's response to the changing situations around the Covid-19 virus, and is the new format for the Cocktails project over the coming months. We aim to find new ways to fulfil our project aims of connecting young and older adults through regular social activity, even if we are no longer able to meet face to face. Our core project's aim is to reduce social isolation in our communities has never been more pressing.

The After Party is an interactive project to the keep the Cocktails community – volunteers, care home residents, staff and family members – and wider community connected through fun, meaningful creative activity.

The After Party is led by a team of four artists, where we will find new ways to engaged what we love most about parties: laughing, singing, dancing, debating and exploring together, now remotely and from afar.

We understand that the current situation means that staff capacity in care settings to support and engage in creative activity may be reduced and that access to technology differs across the board. Therefore we are carrying out a bespoke and tailored approach towards supporting resident and staff engagement.

Project: The View from Here (At Home Together)
Organisation: Magic Me
Region: Greater London

Arts & Ages is Magic Me's three-year programme, nurturing partnerships between primary schools and groups of older people in Tower Hamlets through the arts. By working together over a sustained period, Magic Me supports partners to establish a long-lasting relationship and gain the practical understanding and skills to continue bringing older and younger people together creatively.

The View from Here is our response to the constantly changing situations around the Covid-19 pandemic, and is a new format for the Arts & Ages programme over the coming months. The View from Here aims to ease social isolation for all ages through creative intergenerational exchange.

Magic Me's artists will be creating a series of activities around the theme of windows – looking out whilst staying in. Inspired by the many drawings and messages that have been filling up windows up and down the country and how they have becomes a means of connection with the outside world, as we spend more time indoors.

We have been working closely with our partners to understand how their situation has changed and how we can support them to take part. We recognise that the current situation means that staff capacity to support and engage in activity may be reduced and that access to technology varies for each school, care setting and individual. Our partners receive bespoke and tailored versions of activity packs, ensuring participants can engage at their own pace and in more than one way.

Project: Muso Baby
Organisation: Manchester Museum
Region: North West England

Working with music therapist Rachel Swanick, the aim of Muso Baby was to deliver a therapeutic intervention in a non-clinical setting; for mothers experiencing or at risk of anxiety or post-natal depression and their babies, who might not normally access this kind of support or visit a museum. With referral from local health visitors and other partners, families attended a series of interactive music and sensory play sessions at the museum with the aim of developing resilience and confidence to seek further support for their own wellbeing. When the museum closed due to Covid virus, the sessions moved online as Muso Baby Virtual! delivered through a closed facebook page every Tuesday morning and open to all. A live chat between 10-11am led by Rachel provides a safe forum for parents to share particular challenges they may be facing and to offer each other emotional support. This is followed by a live music session aimed at supporting participation, attachment and family wellbeing which is then posted on the page for families to access at any time. Ideas for craft activities and guided meditations are added to further support and build relationships with families.

Organisation: National Archives
Region: National

A photographic-based resource created for a partnership with Arts in Care Homes, with links to the National Archives collection.

There is a strong BAME focus as the images are international in focus. The aim is to encourage reminiscence and dialogue for the benefit of elders or vulnerable adults working with carers/helpers. These resources will also be relevant and useful for elders who are self-isolating at home as well as in care homes. 

I am aiming to help BAME and white vulnerable adults to feel more connected with each other, to learn about different places in the world and people’s memories of them, to spark conversations that inform and entertain. There are opportunities in this project to help combat loneliness, to offer opportunities for people to engage creatively, share memories and to learn. I hope this will support their mental health.

The main project is an online resource which uses 5 images from around the world (Mauritius, Barbados, Grenada, South Africa and Scotland), along with oral history recordings, sound recordings and question prompts to inspire discussion, creative activity and learning for a multinational or white audience. It promotes a multi-sensory experience that people can enjoy, whether working individually, as a group or with a carer/relative. The future resource uses images from this webpage which was the result of an Outreach project working with 3 sheltered housing schemes and a story-teller in 2017.

Project: Memories of London
Organisation: Museum of London
Region: Greater London

Covid-19 severely impacted our ability to run our programme and significantly affected our audiences. Prior to Covid-19 we ran Memories of London, a programme designed to promote the wellbeing of those living with dementia. In response to Covid-19 we created a range of resources to alleviate loneliness, promote connection and stimulate creativity.  These have been developed in collaboration with people affected by dementia. London Lives is a monthly, creative podcast which features the voices and stories of those affected by dementia. Partnering with an artist, and using a different object from our collection each month, the podcasts interweave history, legend and music to create an audible journey to the past. We also know that digital poverty is real so, alongside London Lives, we produced paper activity packs. Our Creative & Connected packs, developed in partnership with our dementia reference group, include a range creative prompts using art, sensory exploration, movement and singing. These are printed and distributed to the most vulnerable working with local councils, food banks, care homes and community organisations. We have been overwhelmed with demand and so far have distributed 2000 packs. We have also produced a mixture of live and pre-recorded online sessions led by artists. Finally, we also plan to test a socially distanced arts festival in partnership with a care home later in the year.


Organisation: Museum of Oxford
Region: South East England

This project evolved from awareness of both the possibilities and limits of another newsletter distributed during the crisis to users on our mailing list. This joint museums’ newsletter (Museum of Oxford and University of Oxford Museums) was emailed to both museums’ distribution groups with a hard copy version (without digital links) to those without internet access. These newsletters were also forwarded to many other groups including Oxford Over 50s, Barton Community Centre web page, Blackbird Leys groups etc. However, the distribution of these newsletters relied either on internet access or subscription to a mailing list, or other organisations forwarding it.

We wanted to reach older people who would not necessarily be receiving content from ourselves or other organisations.  Therefore, we decided on direct distribution to older people in sheltered housing. To create a sense of connection with others, we decided to create newsletters with postcards to deliver to local older people. These would not have any digital links. The postcards were the impetus – to enable people to feel a sense of connection by sending one on to someone else or keeping it.

The 3 themed newsletters (VE Day & WW2, hobbies and crafts, and food, with similarly themed postcards) included local historical images with information about the images. The first newsletter and postcard were created and delivered within a few days; the other two had more content with suggestions of activities, seated exercise routines from a dancer and choreographer. The council teams delivered the newsletters to 200 older people.


Project: Happy Older People
Organisation: National Museums Liverpool
Region: North West England

During Covid-19, Happy Older People (HOP)’s usual activity cannot take place. Ordinarily we would be funding the delivery of ‘HOP Pot’ creative projects in the community, and delivering quarterly network meetings to share the latest network updates and member news, with stakeholders or members presenting their work and/or research.

The monthly e-newsletter would usually contain a round-up of age-friendly arts and cultural activities across the Liverpool City Region, alongside good news stories and case studies of successful creative ageing projects. We describe it as a ‘what’s on’ guide for age-friendly arts and cultural activity. During lockdown we have adapted the e-newsletter to focus on activity that older people can do from home during this time, as well as sharing creative outputs from our older members and good news stories.

The content comes directly from network members who receive a reminder about the upcoming newsletter each month. The resulting e-newsletter is a resource which connects older people to a menu of arts and cultural activity across the region – during Covid-19 our members are encouraged to share activity people can do from home. We are committed to sharing the lockdown activities that our creative and cultural member organisations are delivering during this time.

Older people themselves benefit from a monthly roundup of creative and cultural activities they can take part in at home, as well as keeping well at home resources, news stories and creativity. Our professionals and member organisations receive sector news and updates from other organisations in order to understand how their peers are responding to the current crisis and provides inspiration for new ways of working.

Project: Slavery Remembrance Day
Organisation: National Museums Liverpool
Region: North West England

National Museums Liverpool and the RESPECT group, following a commissioned piece by Nasra Elliott listening to members of Liverpool’s Black communities through a series of community conversation workshops, aspired to achieve deeper, and more collaborative community participation. The project brought to the fore ongoing issues of racism and discrimination facing communities of diverse heritage, particularly BME, during the Covid-19 pandemic and the racist murder of George Floyd. Addressing the imbalance of power between the museum and the community the project was to follow an approach which identified key components of the event which had collaborative commissioned and co-curated outputs. The project enabled both the museum and the communities it wished to engage with further, to identify new ways of working, and facilitating dialogue around important issues and events.  

The lockdown situation created a whole new set of unpredictable outcomes, and the move to a digital event meant new ways of engaging with audiences. This actually created opportunities for engaging with international communities as well as local audiences through the online approach, which was particularly pertinent given the global relevance of racism and health inequalities.


Organisation: Open Art Box CIC
Region: East England

Every week we deliver a box containing all the materials needed to complete a different themed art activity. In each pack we provide clear instructions and an example. The activity also includes images from a range of different artists’ work, in that medium.

We initially planned 16 different activities ranging from things such as collage, clay, charcoal, book-making, mobiles, embroidery, etc. We continue to develop new activities, working with our participants and their feedback.

Prior to delivering a box, we will phone each participant to discuss the next activity. We sometimes make changes and tailor boxes for specific needs - discussing with participants how we can suitably modify the activity or find an alternative way of doing it that they are happy with. This regular phone support prior to delivering has been a vital part of what we have been able to offer, giving artistic advice and reassurance as well as providing a weekly routine and a friendly chat.

On delivery days participants have been able to display their work in windows, chat to us from their doorways and maintain an ongoing connection to us. Many of our participants do not have access to the internet, so this connection is especially important. 

Project: RAMM@Home
Organisation: Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM)
Region: South West England

RAMM@Home is a weekly art challenge in partnership with Exeter City Community Trust and aimed at shielded, vulnerable or isolated individuals. The project is designed to allow people to create their very own RAMM collection based on the museum’s stunning objects.

With a focus on areas of the museum such as Romans, Natural History, Egyptian Mummies and World Cultures, a different challenge has been set every Friday.  Drawing sessions, animated creations, origami, model making, costume designing and Lego model making are just some of the artistic ideas that have featured.  Challenges have been released every Friday on the RAMM website, across their social media accounts and via e-newsletters.

In order to reach people who are not able to get online RAMM sent out 500 activity packs containing three activity sheets that describe how to have a go at the first three creative challenges: How to draw Gerald the giraffe, How to make a Roman soldier and How to make a jellyfish. 

Project: The Reader at Home
Organisation: The Reader
Region: National (UK)

As the pandemic unfolded, we recognised that amongst the needs in our communities was that of wellbeing support and social connection. We rapidly transformed our services to meet those needs, delivering Shared Reading wherever and however possible by phone or online – to maintain that vital lifeline for our group members, our volunteers, our partners and the wider community.

Our wide-ranging programme of activity for volunteers and group members during this time, promoted under the banner of ‘The Reader at Home’ has included Shared Reading sessions or pairs run online or by phone open to all (groups that give people a chance to connect with each other over a great story or poem), and our Lifeline activity packs (handpicked texts and guides for partner organisations to run reading related activities with those who cannot engage online). Volunteers have also benefitted from bi-weekly support sessions to connect, share their ideas and experiences, and maintain their own wellbeing, and have received regularly updated resources and materials for their groups.

At a time when many people are looking for wellbeing support, distraction and meaning, we’ve also been working to provide a regular programme of video readings, online events, and specially curated lockdown reading resources for everyone to enjoy at leisure.

These new services are bringing the comfort, escapism and connection of literature to existing and new beneficiaries and we continue to receive demand for more.

Project: (collaborations with...) Camden Carers and Homes for Haringey
Organisation: Royal Central School of Speech & Drama
Region: Greater London

Camden Carers

This was about creating an online creative outlet/community feel for unpaid carers and bringing joy to participants through engagement with the arts, to allow them to look beyond care work concerns and challenges in the context of the pandemic. We aimed to help participants to feel grounded through online interaction and artistic/community engagement.

The project used art as a tool to ground the group through artistic expression and online sharing of narratives from unpaid carers. Everyone was paying so much attention to paid carers and not unpaid carers – bringing visibility to an ignored front line of care through a podcast series sharing these experiences.

Homes for Haringey

This is a collaborative wellbeing project between older tenants in Homes for Haringey and RCSSD students. The first two weeks were dedicated to creating letters and resource packs, followed by a five-week letter engagement process, and a two-week production period creating an audio play inspired by the details of the letters and an accompanying subtitled film, and transcript for access. It will be shared with the host organisation and tenants.

Project: Art by Post
Organisation: Southbank Centre
Region: Greater London

The Southbank Centre’s Art by Post scheme delivers a series of free drawing, poetry and craft activity booklets through the post to adults who are living with dementia, or with other long-term health conditions which mean they are isolating for long periods of time. The project is available across the UK and is particularly aimed at people who don’t have access to digital technologies.

The activity booklets are inspired by the Southbank Centre’s visual art, literature, poetry and archive collections, and are designed to keep minds active, helping individuals feel connected to others and improving their mental health and wellbeing.

People can choose to sign up to Art by Post themselves, or to refer someone they know and take part alongside them in a supportive role, and we have seen referrals from family members, friends, neighbours, carers and health professionals as well as our network of partner organisations and Link Workers.

Participants are invited to share their artworks with us via freepost envelopes and these will form a special exhibition when the Southbank Centre reopens.


Project: Supersmashers and Creative Families
Organisation: South London Gallery
Region: Greater London

Supersmashers is an art and play project for up to 200 looked-after children aged 6-12 living in Southwark. Running since September 2012, the project brings together two interlinking strands: weekly after-school sessions and family trips every school holiday.

During covid-19, we have maintained the programme remotely through: 

- 10 creative play packs (and more on the way) 

- Three instructional videos, featuring staff known to the children 

The focus has been on maintaining relationships with the children that are known to us, and continuing to provide creative and play opportunities for children in their homes. 

Creative families is an early intervention arts programme for parents experiencing mental health difficulties and their children aged under 5 years. Creative families’ aims to engage vulnerable families in an inner city area to promote mental well-being through engaging in a series of artist led workshops, over 10-weeks. Creative families runs in partnership with the Southwark Parental Mental Health Team (PMHT), South London Gallery (SLG) and local children centres. The Creative families’ programme is usually held in 2 venues; a local children’s centre and the SLG. 

We have launched this year’s project through creative packs for the families, which are being hand-delivered to families by the parental mental health team. These packs are designed to support the parents to playfully interact with their child and to observe their development and learning through creative activities such as: measuring their growing limbs with string, playing music, using household objects to create sculptures and annotate a sketchbook. The parental mental health team are keen to know how these observations might feed into their work with the families- and how they might aid in self-reflection.  

Project: Brave Art
Organisation: Suffolk Artlink
Region: East England

Brave Art is an arts training course for people with learning disabilities offering students the chance to enjoy exploring a variety of art forms whilst supporting their wellbeing and developing creative and life skills.
The project was delivered through weekly face to face sessions in Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds but since lockdown the project has been adapted to be delivered remotely.
The Brave Art project now includes:
•    A creative pack – a workbook of activities has been created with activities designed by artists and posted to each student to work through at their own pace. This workbook is complemented by videos explaining some of the activities which will be watched ‘live’ by the groups. Materials have also been provided for some students.  A second pack is planned for July.
•    Weekly challenge – students are filming themselves setting challenges for the rest of the students to complete over the week with work shared online.
•    Brave Art Broadcasting and newsletter – a weekly video posted to the facebook page where the course tutor offers an activity to get involved with as well as feedback on the work that has been shared and a newsletter is sent out to keep people connected.
•    Zoom meetings – regular zoom meetings for students to take part in a physical warm up activity and/or to share their work with each other.
•    Phone calls – students are contacted by phone on a weekly or fortnightly basis dependent on their needs. These calls allow us to check in on their creative progress as well as ensure the project is supporting their wellbeing.
•    Art conversations – students have been paired up to exchange art works directly in response to each other’s work.
•    The Brave Art Gallery – shares the work produced by students


Project: Around the Table
Organisation: Suffolk Artlink
Region: East

Around the Table (ATT) uses regular creative sessions led by artists and chefs to explore food, creativity and culture in order to support the wellbeing of family carers. The project had been delivered face to face in community venues in Lowestoft, Claydon, Halesworth with a new group just beginning in Bury St Edmunds as lockdown was initiated.

Many of the family carers involved in the project support people who have had to shield within their homes due to Covid-19, exacerbating the sense of isolation that was already often experienced by participants. We have adapted the project to continue to provide activities and support through a remote creative offer using the below phone, post and online methods of reaching people.
•    Edible flower garden: Seeds were posted to participants who were invited to grown their own blooms and document the process.
•    Foraging fact files: Created by the forager who had previously delivered foraging walks as part of the project. These are available as a download from our website and were posted to participants who may not have online access.
•    Calling from the back of your cupboard: This initiative invited participants to come together to explore left-behind ingredients. Using a telephone tree and given a list of questions to start the conversation, carers spoke over the phone and came up with a list of ingredients which were then turned into recipes. Live zoom cook-a-longs were then set up for groups to join in with some of the food being made.


Project: Theatre Lounge, Chapter One, Holidaying at Home, Creative Ease, Boredom Buster
Organisation: Theatre Orchard
Region: South West England

It has been a privilege to be able to work with North Somerset communities over lockdown, and we have been bowled over by the honesty and bravery of the participants, many of whom face very challenging personal circumstances. Different projects have unlocked different qualities. Drama and writing have allowed for reflection and self-expression, Holidaying at Home gave a license to step into a new reality and forget the physical surroundings, for a little while, then perhaps return to them refreshed. Boredom Buster has united a community of artists - both local and international - in the shared aim of reaching out to isolated hospital patients, bringing a little creative diversion and entertainment during this disconcerting period when familial visits were not permitted.

All the projects have brought forth different perspectives on lockdown - the negatives and the positives, with a whole host of suggestions emerging from more marginalised voices as to what learnings we can take forward, so that ‘recovery’ also incorporates ‘transformation’.

Project: Music & Wellbeing website; Wellbeing Live events
Organisation: Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust
Region: North East England

There are two parts to the project:

Music and Wellbeing website

This is a set of pages of playlists and videos designed to help users to relax, enliven and manage their moods. It uses a combination of curation and X-System analyses. X System is a model of the musical brain which can predict with accuracy the neurophysiological effects of specific musical tracks. The System can then order the tracks in such a way as to “entrain” the user, and lead them from “where they are” emotionally to “where they want to be”. Playlists for specific issues such as depression and trauma work in the same way. To benefit fully from these playlists, users ideally must be prepared to listen to all tracks in a playlist (average 20 minutes)

Wellbeing Live events - Connection through music

These take place every Thursday evening with additional events for targeted groups. Normally musicians with rich emotional expression are invited to perform live on Zoom. The participants add comments in real time, and there are discussions of the music and what it means and how it affects us. We believe it is a new form of music making, where people share their reactions and feelings.

Project: EACH
Organisation: University of Cambridge Museums
Region: East of England

The Fitzwilliam Museum and EACH collaboration is aimed at young children with progressive life-limiting illnesses and their families, to have fun together as a family away from the demands of their daily lives and to enjoy opportunities to experience and take part in high-quality arts, which they may not usually have access to. Previously, we have offered sibling and family days at the museum, as well as bereavement coffee mornings. The covid-19 crisis has changed how we are working with the Hospice. We are keen for families to continue to engage with the museum and what it offers. As we are unable to arrange days together at the moment, we are working with the hospice to provide the following:  


  1. Bespoke monthly online activities based on a theme that uses the Museum as a starting point for sensory activities and creative making. For example, this month is ‘textures’ based on Samuel Palmer’s Magic Apple Tree. 
  2. The Museum sends out activity packs to families who are unable to access the online provision
  3. Other relevant resources for families at the Museum’, such as Look, Think, Do are advertised through the EACH family zone
  4. Providing Museum staff with training for working with EACH families, to help prepare for when the Museum is able to reopen

Project: Portals to the World
Organisation: University of Cambridge Museums
Region: East of England

Portals to the World is a museum programme designed for people to learn, share and create together. It emphasises ability over disability and provides opportunities for people to enjoy ‘respite together’; to be seen by ourselves and others anew. The session ingredients have a regular structure with the aim of supporting familiarity, confidence and trust in the Museums as welcome and enjoyable places. Each session comprises of a talk, gallery exploration and a creative or object handling activity. The programme is embedded with regular training and session facilitation being undertaken by conservators, curators, designers, front of house as well as the learning team.

With the Museums closed these ingredients and this practice has moved on-line using zoom video conferencing, the post and recorded pieces. 65% of the programme cohort have chosen to participate in this. Dementia Compass facilitate preparation sessions to help people become confident with technology. Speakers create session handouts that are sent to people by post, beforehand. Dementia Compass also work closely with the speakers to plan for how best to prepare and share content virtually. To foster connectively, the sessions artwork activity (during this remote period) is the making and exchanging of art on postcards.

Project: Time and Dance
Organisation: University of Cambridge Museums
Region: East of England

Dance and Time with the Museum is a collaboration with dance artist Filipa Pereira -Stubbs. The co-created practice invites participants to take part in shared journeys through art using relaxation, look slowly, movement and learning.

Consultation and collaboration with partners and participants, in response to Covid, has focused on people’s context, programme relevance and its potential, the ambition being to develop a suite of flexible, engagement routes that can be tailored to need.

For those alone, in sheltered housing, regular small group phone calls, with resources sent by post have been universally popular. Participants share the experience of looking at artworks and talking together through facilitated conversations. The opportunity to step out of concerns of, into a social group to relax and explore art together has proved a potent force for wellbeing.

Working closely with staff at the two care homes, supporting them to deliver sessions has been hungrily received. The delivery is complimented by the Relax, Look, Imagine films, postcard correspondence with the Museum and art activity boxes.

Day-centre users and Addenbrookes patients have been enjoying the Artwork in Focus postcards which contain discussion prompts and using the Relax Look Imagine films to support relaxation and imagination.

The films and postcards will be distributed to care settings in the region Autumn 2020.

Project: Hey Clay!
Organisation: Wiltshire Creative
Region: South West England

Participants were invited to take part in a Crafts Council Hey Clay! initiative at home. On Saturday 16 May 10am–noon we left free clay packets outside the Salisbury Arts Centre pottery door for people to collect. Work sheets were made available on social media and the Wiltshire Creative website and participants were invited to share clay creations on social media.


Project: Behind the Mask
Organisation: Creative Minds / Verd de Gris
Region: Yorkshire & Humber

Behind the Mask is a creative wellbeing programme that uses a tried and tested creative methodology to give local women the time and space over a 12-month period to talk openly about the factors that impact their on quality of life. For some, there may be cultural and / or societal pressures within their respective communities. For others, it may be the lack of educational / employment opportunities. Some group members struggle with a long-term health condition; some are full-time carers; some live with the long-term effects of the negative experience of school life. Most of these women live with depression and / or anxiety.

The weekly creative sessions combined various art forms including visual art, singing, creative writing and breath and movement exercises. Women were referred through local support organisations, including WomenCentre and local authority social services.


Project: Dance On
Organisation: Yorkshire Dance
Region: Yorkshire & Humber

Professional dance artists lead the sessions and explore & offer innovative movement experiences that challenge stereotypes of ageing. We had to reimagine our ‘physical’ dance sessions by adapting to online video dance sessions, weekly Zoom Dance On classes and Monthly Masterclasses (the first session focusing on Voguing, delivered by Darren Pritchard ‘Vogue Mother of the House of Ghetto’).

We have also engaged participants in a non-digital way such as, sending ‘keep in contact’ postcards and setting up a dedicated Dance On telephone line. We have frequently telephoned participants for a chat.

When we went into lockdown, we understood that this would be a challenging time for our participants, freelance artists and staff. We wanted to make sure whatever we offered was at the right time and in the right way. We recognised the digital inequalities that would affect any adaptations to our programme. We started by a digital audit of our participants to assess how many of them had access to email/internet and the confidence to use zoom. We were also committed to supporting older people through a personal approach by sending a postcard to all participants, setting up a dedicated telephone number and regular calls.  We recognised that the key to the programme’s success is enhancing social bonds and connections.

Recent additions (October 2020)

The following six case studies were submitted in October 2020.

Read about work in institutions here.

Project: Unlocking Our Sound
Organisation: The British Library
Region: London
Designed for: Adults with dementia, shielding at home

As part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project, The British Library have partnered with Care Visions Healthy Ageing to create a dementia therapy film which utilises the British Library's sound archive. Care Visions are a local organisation working in Camden delivering a range of services to support families living with dementia. During the lockdown and subsequent shielding period, they have been creating therapy films to help people with dementia remain stimulated and engaged during this time. This collaborative film uses the amazing coastal sounds from The British Library's sound archive to create stimulation for those with early to moderate stage dementia.

Project: Singing for Breathing
Organisation: rb&hArts
Region: London
Designed for: Adults with respiratory conditions

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, rb&hArts has successfully piloted online Singing for Breathing sessions for 117 participants living with chronic/life-limiting respiratory conditions who are required to shield, leaving them at risk of isolation and loneliness. The singing sessions provide a vital social space with time for chat before trained facilitators lead activities in breath management and group singing. The programme provides physical exercise supporting lung function through mindful activities, boosting positive mental health and creating peer support networks. rb&hArts aim to reach those within the Trust by now being able to offer additional resources including taster sessions on Zoom and offering 1-1 sessions.

Project: The Hera programme
Organisation: Robin Hood Health Foundation
Region: South East
Designed for: People referred by GPs or self-referring

The Robin Hood Health Foundation delivers the Hera Programme: creative workshops and public-facing arts activities for people with ongoing health concerns and multiple complex needs in NHS primary care.

We transitioned our entire programme of multi-artform creative workshops and professional training online in just over a week. In order to support those not comfortable with the technology, we provided direct remote support to participants with the help of AbilityNet, and additional training to colleagues provided by Diversity & Ability.

Project: Emerge
Organisation: Theatre for Life
Region: South East
Designed for: Young people (aged 14-25) with long-term illness, including NHS outpatients

“As a high-risk person living with a life-limiting disability (CHD and Heart Failure), these times are genuinely terrifying. During this experience I have realised how important it is to band together as a community and help the vulnerable and high-risk. No community can overcome any issue with a ‘each for their own’ mentality. It is so important that we don’t revert back to forcing the disabled and vulnerable back into isolation while the rest of the world carries on; but take the steps to come together and work with each other to create a safe and equal environment. Creative outlets and charities like Theatre for Life are giving young people the chance to be heard during this pandemic, to establish that we believe in your worth as a member of society.” (Theatre for Life Youth Theatre member, 21 years old)


creative packs being assembled by Free Space Project
Free Space Project