A word from the President of the new Alliance Lord Howarth of Newport
I am delighted to be able to contribute to the first issue of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance bulletin in my new role as President. We had a very successful launch of the alliance at the Birmingham Museum on 13th March with a moving performance from the Choir With No Name. Some of you will have been in the audience so I won’t repeat what I said in my speech, but would like to say that it seems to me a very significant moment in the development of this field. The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance can make an important contribution in helping us to draw together and create a shared vision, strengthening all of our work through the exchange of knowledge and experience. Many of you will know of me as Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing which I founded in 2014 with a group of MPs and Peers who share my commitment and belief in the important contribution that the arts can make to our health and wellbeing. As you may know, the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance will take on responsibility for the secretariat of the APPG and I have been asked to give you a brief update on our current programme of work.
Since the publication of Creative Health last July, we have been working to engage parliamentarians and encourage decision makers and others to pursue the ten recommendations laid out in the report. Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, who researched and drafted Creative Health, secured further funding from the AHRC to continue her work at King’s College London and disseminate the report at health and social care conferences and events around the country. The original inquiry funding is supporting a series of nine events organised by the regional leads from the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing in partnership with health providers. In October, the Westminster Hall debate, led by our Co-Chair, Ed Vaizey, involved 12 MPs talking about arts and health with many examples of projects from around the country. We have brought together a working group of people who were involved in the original inquiry process and who represent the range of stakeholders we want to engage with: academics, arts practitioners, health and social care professionals, policy makers and service users. We are very grateful to Wellcome and Paul Hamlyn Foundation for funding this next phase of work, including a feasibility study on recommendation 1 which is being delivered by the King’s Fund.
We are holding a further series of round tables and bringing together groups of people who can help us influence take-up of the recommendations. We have heard from participants that the report is a useful tool in advocating for the work. We are sending copies of the report to Chief Executives or Chairs of all clinical commissioning groups, health and wellbeing boards, local authorities and NHS trusts across the country, with letters co-signed by some of our most influential endorsers, urging them to identify an individual at senior level to take responsibility for arts and health policy in their organisation. You can help us with this and other recommendations by lobbying at a local, regional or national level, working within your personal and professional circles of influence to advocate for the benefits of the arts and cultural engagement for health and wellbeing. In the report we identified culture change as the main challenge. Despite all the difficulties that we face as a country, there are great opportunities in times of flux and we have found that there is more receptiveness amongst key decision makers and stakeholder groups than we might have anticipated. We find that we are part of a movement for change within health and social care, from illness and hospital-centred services to a focus on prevention and wellness, towards a healthy and health-creating society.
From the outset, The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is keen to prioritise the perspective of people who have benefitted from the health and wellbeing impact of culture. We have worked with champions to establish The LENs - a network of people with lived experience of health issues who are passionate about the benefits of the arts and cultural engagement. It is a small group at the moment but we would like it to grow and need your help. We are asking people to contribute their stories to the LENs. Stories can be in any form: words, drawings, videos, animations. Our first goal is to gather 70 stories to make into digital postcards, or animations, to celebrate 70 years of the NHS this summer. Eva has sent us this poem as a first submission, Arthur’s painting (the image above) is another. The LENs will be a critical friend to the blossoming field of culture and health, shining a light on the work and contributing to making it truly reflect the needs and assets of us all. If you would like to sign up to the LENs please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Strategic Alliance MembersIn order to support the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, a network of organisations with shared interests and values has been established to help guide our work and collaborate with us. The group brings together a range of organisations working nationally across the field of culture and wellbeing and we are proud so many significant organisations are backing the new Alliance.
Evan Dawson, Executive Director of Live Music Now, one of the Strategic Alliance Members, said: “Since the earliest civilisations, humans have needed artistic expression. In Britain today, the arts are thriving, with energetic and beautiful ideas flourishing all the time. However, millions of people are still excluded from engaging as audience members, or participating as artists. The emergence of the new Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is an opportunity to reach those people, and make the UK a truly inclusive artistic community, with massive health and wellbeing benefits for everyone. At Live Music Now, we all look forward to helping develop this vital and exciting new movement.”
Carol Rogers, Executive Director of Education and Visitors at National Museums Liverpool one of the Strategic Alliance Members, said: “National Museums Liverpool is delighted that the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing has joined forces with the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing. We have seen how the arts and health and wellbeing are inextricably linked through the impact of our museum-led House of Memories dementia awareness programme, which is supporting people to live well with dementia. Museums have a clear role to play in combatting social isolation and loneliness, and as a national museum group, encompassing health and wellbeing programmes across our museums and galleries is a priority. The new Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance will serve to benefit the health and wellbeing of everyone in society.”
For a full list of Strategic Alliance Members visit link below
Loneliness Measures Published
The Office for National Statistics is developing new tools to measure loneliness and has published initial analysis to measure the frequency of people’s feelings of loneliness. In 2016 to 2017, 5% of adults in England reported feeling lonely “often” or “always”. Health conditions and social connections play a significant factor in whether people are likely to be lonely: people in poor health or who have conditions they describe as “limiting” were at particular risk of feeling lonely more often.
People aged 16 to 24 years reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups and women reported feeling lonely more often than men. People who feel that they belong less strongly to their neighbourhood reported feeling lonely more often. Three profiles of people at particular risk from loneliness were identified:
· Widowed older homeowners living alone with long-term health conditions.
· Unmarried, middle-agers with long-term health conditions.
· Younger renters with little trust and sense of belonging to their area.
The Prime Minister recently announced the development of a strategy to alleviate loneliness in response to the report of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness published in December 2017. As part of this, she requested that Office for National Statistics (ONS) develops national measures of loneliness. ONS is now working with a cross-government group, charities, academics and other stakeholders to review the measurement of loneliness and publish recommendations on this later this year.
Responding to the report, Councillor Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “The harm loneliness can cause, both physically and mentally, can be devastating to people of all ages - it is a serious public health concern which studies suggest can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Councils across the country have a range of programmes and initiatives in place to tackle loneliness and work closely with voluntary organisations and faith groups to support vulnerable people in the community. But councils can only do so much. We all need to be on the look-out for each other, which could be as simple as a quick visit to check on a neighbour, who could be a young mum without any family nearby, or an older person living alone. This could make a major difference and help tackle loneliness, which is placing an increasing burden on health and social care.”
Second museums and health report
The National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing has published its second report into the development of the museums, health and wellbeing sector. It offers insight into different ways the heritage sector is responding creatively to a range of issues and provides a variety of recommendations.
The report, produced through mapping and surveys of those working in the museums and wellbeing field and focuses on: demographic changes; the cumulative effects of entrenched health inequalities during a period of economic instability; a progressively more holistic and less medicalised conception of health care in which the role of culture is increasingly acknowledged; a growing commitment to co-creation in service design; an emergent awareness of the potential and importance of ‘green’ wellbeing; increasingly nuanced and less normative conceptions of wellbeing as shifting,
Wales moves on Arts and Health
Arts Council of Wales is proposing to support an arts and health co-ordinator to every Health Board in Wales along with resourcing a Welsh Arts and Health Network. The commitments comes as it published the results of a mapping exercise of culture and health projects from across the country along with a series of proposals to develop the field of arts, health and wellbeing.
‘Arts and Health in Wales - A Mapping study of current activity’ is a snapshot of some of the arts and health partnerships in place across the country. The report highlights work in several fields including the treatment and care of dementia and mental health; physical areas such as Parkinson's and falls prevention; and community therapies aimed at tackling anxiety and isolation, and work in aiding the recovery of stroke patients. The document will inform strategic discussions between the Welsh Government, the Arts Council of Wales and a range of other partners active in arts and health.
Vanessa Young, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation said: "As this study shows, there are already a lot of initiatives happening across Wales that promote the health benefits of art and creativity. The feedback is very positive – clinicians involved in an arts project for young teenagers with mental health difficulties are seeing a significant improvement in their wellbeing, and care workers are turning training in creativity into activities that make a real change in their patients’ lives. We are pleased to be working with the Arts Council of Wales to raise awareness of the health and wellbeing benefits of engaging in the arts and creative activity."
Phil George, Chair of Arts Council of Wales said: "As the report reveals, the impact of Arts and Health activity is already impressive. But the Arts Council of Wales wants to work with Welsh Government and partners in the health, arts and higher education sectors to make an even bigger difference to the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales. The proposals in the report are an important contribution to making this happen. Ideas like appointing Arts in Health coordinators in all Health Boards or strengthening the evidence base for the potential benefits of building on existing achievements - these ideas will move … arts and health up to a new level"
Heritage Lottery Fund consultation offers wellbeing focus
As part of its strategy review, HLF has published the findings of research with National Lottery players that advocates investment in heritage activity that alleviates social issues. When interviewed, people valued the health and wellbeing impact of lottery funding.
The research, which will contribute to HLF’s new strategy focuses on how people see lottery funding as benefitting communities
Integrated Communities Consultation
The Government has published proposals for legislation to improve community integration which includes advocating the role of culture in community wellbeing. It is running a consultation to seek people’s views on the best way to generate community cohesion.
The draft strategy references the role the Creative People and Places programme has had on community cohesion and improving wellbeing. The consultation runs until 5 June 2018.
Health Humanities Medal
A new national award celebrating the contribution of the arts and humanities to improving healthcare, health and wellbeing has been launched by The Arts and Humanities Research Council, in association with the Wellcome Trust.
Focused on research in the field, The Health and Humanities Medal will assess contributions in five categories. For each category a shortlist of submissions will be drawn up and a winner will be selected. An overall winner will then be selected from the five category winners to receive the Health Humanities Medal for 2018.
The categories for 2018 are:
· Best Research
· Best Doctoral or Early Career Research
· Best International Research
· Inspiration Award
· Leadership Award
Eligible submissions will be judged by academics, health practitioners and industry professionals who will be looking for the very best examples under each category.
Professor Paul Crawford, at the University of Nottingham, who has led the development of this new award, comments: "The arts and humanities are major forces in keeping people well, connecting them socially and restoring them to good health. Whether it’s music, visual arts, comedy, theatre, storytelling, reading groups, or any of the many other creative practices going on every day, the arts and humanities are like a shadow health service that works quietly and powerfully to transform lives and aid recovery."
Arts and art therapy for women in prisons
New guidance from Public Health England endorses the value of arts engagement as a tool for improved mental and physical health for women in prison.
The guidance comes in a set of standards for gender-specific health interventions and cites dance as a valuable resource for physical wellbeing and arts engagement as a useful tool in mental wellbeing, improving self-esteem and building self-efficacy. Art therapy is cited for its potential to impact positively on drug dependency. The standards set out evidence-based good practice in addressing the health and wellbeing needs of women in prison. They were developed from a literature review of current evidence and reviewed through consultation with national and international experts.
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