Creative Care in 2021

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Creative Care Box

Being invited to be part of this project made me feel less alone…..you don’t have to be good at art, you can just play around with materials…..I got given a choice about what I could do. I’m normally the person who asks ‘what am I meant to be doing? but with the creative care box you’re told you can do what you want with it…..I felt I could be my own person and do what I wanted. I will carry on using the box…I literally have a space in my drawer for the box of materials and will take it out whenever I’m stressed or if I feel creative. Feedback from young people at Centre 33

Creative Care is developing partnerships and resources that encourage a creative way of being in the world to support our mental health and well-being. These focus on exploring ways to reconnect with all our senses and with the pleasures of noticing, listening, making and shaping in order to express our own ideas.

Launched in April 2020 in response to lockdown, the programme is hosted by Fullscope, a new collaboration between seven leading organisations that support the mental wellbeing of children and young people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Explore here the resources developed to date, all free to download, both those created by artists in the CCI and Arts and Minds networks (a Fullscope partner) and those co-produced with young artists from The Kite Trust and Cambs Youth Panel.  Many have short films for sharing alongside to help support people to access the invitations. Where possible these have been delivered as part of ‘creative care packs’ to children and young people who need them. Most recent partners include: Anglia Ruskin University, Centre 33, Cambs Youth Panel, The Kite Trust, and PHACE (Peterborough local cultural education partnership) with colleagues in Early Help at Peterborough County Council and Greenwood Academies Trust.

CCI is working closely with PHACE during 2021/22 to develop their new Creative Parenting course for educators working with vulnerable families, commissioned by and run in partnership with Peterborough City College.

The commitment to co-creation is key to this programme:

I wanted to get involved in this project as I find art to be incredibly therapeutic and hoped my contribution could help others explore their queerness through art. I’ve had lots of fun coming up with my offer and thinking about how nature supports us in our day-to-day life. Noah, The Kite Trust

This project has given us a way to provide activities for some of our younger service users at a time when we can’t get together face to face for games, art and discussions like we have previously. Being able to have these activities shaped by some of their older peers creates meaningful connections between different age groups of young people at The Kite Trust and a chance for young adults to develop their artistic practice. Pip Gardener, Chief Executive of The Kite Trust

Four young members of Cambs Youth Panel – Mimie, Ayra, Hannah and Ollie – met online with artists Hilary Cox Condron and Sally Todd to co-create the new resource for Creative Care – The Piece of Mind Box – which has been shared with young people at three local village colleges; Ely, Cambourne and Linton. Funded by The Evelyn Trust, this is part of the Cambridge 2030 campaign. Feedback from this programme indicate clearly how the work has impacted both on the students who co-created the box and the students who received them:

I loved all of it if I’m honest. I think this really helped to develop my ability to talk and present to new people, this is something that I do not normally do and I don’t particularly enjoy doing, but within this project I had many opportunities to do so and I think this has helped to develop my presentation skills making me more confident in presenting to new people.

I found having something to concentrate on other than just online school really boosted my mental health. It really helped to be talking to new people too especially in such a strange time when I found out about my exams being cancelled and not going back to school. It was a really great thing to focus on and forget my worries for a bit. Cambs Youth Panel member

This is the hardest I’ve seen any school try so far…. It’s actually an activity that might make someone feel a little better….it’s actually cute that the school cares…all I get is detention…I like the effort and a lot stuff was good…where’s ours?...honestly it’s a good box…A+ for effort…I wish my school did that…Ooh I wish I had this. Feedback via TikTok from students reviewing the Piece of Mind Box

A short summary from FullScope of this work is here.

Staff at Centre 33 have described how this emphasis on creativity and creative practice has helped them think about their own well-being in new ways as well as offering them another focus for their conversations with the young people they are working with: We speak with young people really struggling to cope. This project is a great way for them to engage in an activity which helps them to focus on their wellbeing in an enjoyable and creative way. It can also be a really helpful tool to help us to engage with them whilst they are awaiting further interventions for their mental health or emotional wellbeing. Lucy, Engagement and Support Project Worker.

Feedback from other participants in the programme to date include:
Thank you for providing us with all the amazing ideas and different ways to keep our children’s brains stimulated. We followed your guidance and collected as many different objects of as many different colours inside and out. My children loved doing the finding and searching as much as they did the creating. Thanks for providing the packages - made my life a lot easier for a couple of days!! do you have anything else up your sleeve to help spark the curiosity. Mother, via Instagram

Love the focus on natural objects & play, think we all need both now more than ever. Clare, Art Therapist

It was a delight to drop the creative care boxes round this morning.  The children were absolutely thrilled and their parents really grateful.  It really worked I thought, as a way to connect and engage with those families.  I was feeling in bit of dip yesterday, with worry and feeling a bit fed up with the situation and what might happen next, but that was just really nice.  What a pleasure to see everyone this morning, to know they’re okay, and for them to know all these people are still thinking of them.  I could literally see that on their faces. Thank you for putting all of these materials and ideas together.  You are wonderful. Headteacher, Wilburton Primary School

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. One family in particular, who currently have no access to a computer or tablet, have wholeheartedly embraced the invitations given to them and have rediscovered what it is like to engage with the nature surrounding the place they call home. Many hours have been spent creating and imagining images and inventions for life outside their bubble. Many, many thanks to all involved in bringing this opportunity to our community. Headteacher, Mayfield Primary School

During 2020 CCI worked with Mayfield Primary School, The Kite Trust, Cambridge Academic Partnership, Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire Skills and Abbey Foodbank, and the Red Hen Project as part of this programme. Download here the executive summary of the evaluation of this stage of the programme.