Day in the Life: Helen Fountain

Close up photograph of middle aged white woman with shoulder length white hair wearing a navy blue round neck top


Tell us a little bit about you. Your work, when you started working with culture, health and wellbeing, and how?

I started young without realising it, my parents both had health challenges but they loved music and art so we sang and created our way through life’s ups and downs and used creativity as therapy to help us cope the everyday ableism faced by my Dad, who was a wheelchair user. Fast forward 30 years to a job in a museum which required me to engage older audiences which quickly saw me on hospital wards and in care homes creating heritage based mayhem and learning so much from all the inspiring people I met!



What have you been doing today?

I have been multitasking (the Creative Health practitioners’ number 1 skill!) for Age UK Oxfordshire as part of my lovely Creative Manager, speaking to some Banbury elders for a heritage project we are working on with Historic England, designing some posters and planning an event in Oxford to help us shape our Age Friendly Creative Futures project which aims to make Oxfordshire the most age friendly creative place to grow old and love later life in the Country!



Is that a typical day for you?

Not really and that is one of the joys of the job, our Age Friendly Creative Network  supports all art forms, so a trip to the Panto can be closely followed by a heritage site visit, conversation about a poetry group or dance class and lots of interaction with our amazing Lived Experience groups who lead us in all that we do.



We’re excited to host you for the Making Change national conference. What does that phrase mean to you in your work?

There is so much more to do to make the Creative and Culture sector truly accessible and devolve power and challenge traditional hierarchical organisational structures. Including the voices of people with lived experience and supporting them to lead our work feels like a good starting point for developing authentic, enriching Creative Health programmes which really make a difference to people’s lives.



What have you been curious about / inspired by lately?

There is so much good practice going on in the sector and a quick glance at the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance conference programme has given me lots to think about and look forward to. In addition to supporting Lived Experience Networks, I am particularly interested in evaluation methods and have been really enjoying working with our Creative Later Lives evaluators Supersum who are working with us at Age UK Oxfordshire to find more meaningful ways of evaluating Creative Ageing projects.



Making Change is happening in various locations across Barnsley from 11-13 October. More information can be found here: