Creative Change

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People’s Health Trust addresses social determinants of health as described by the WHO, by supporting projects that increase collective control and build social links and ties. Encouraging collective control is described by the WHO as a wider social determinant of health. Giving local communities greater control to determine what happens in their neighbourhood bring about better outcomes locally, stronger social connections and self-respect: all highly correlated with wellbeing. The arts are often seen as a powerful vehicle through which collective control can be exercised and social connections can be made.

Creative Change was an arts based project, funded through People’s Health Trust’s Active Communities programme. Active Communities is an open grants programme that funds people-led projects, addressing issues and demands identified by communities to make their areas fairer places to live, grow, work and age.

The project aimed to engage women from the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities in Bradford. The project aimed to reduce social isolation and address mental health issues and low educational attainment, by supporting participants to build new social links, develop their confidence and learn new skills.

The project aimed to break down barriers to  participating in the wider community, such as lack of skills and confidence.  By working together on creative projects, the activities aimed to encourage the participants to gain numeracy and literacy skills and increase their confidence to take part in wider community life.

Funding Sources
Artworks Creative Communities received a grant of £33,742 in 2014 as part of People’s Health Trust Active Communities programme. The project was designed and delivered by Artworks Creative Communities. Horton Housing also contributed £4,950 to the project.

Timescale and delivery dates
The project began delivering activities on the 20th January 2014 and finished on the 15th January 2016. The project delivered 90 weekly creative sessions, 7-day trips and 6 outreach sessions to engage new participants.

The Creative Change project was developed from a 12-week pilot, which engaged local women and demonstrated the demand for a longer programme. The women who were engaged are from communities which experience high levels of disadvantage and are at risk of social isolation.

Location and setting
The project was delivered from the Artworks Creative Communities base at the Delius Arts and Cultural Centre, Horton Road, Bradford, BD7 1AA.

Description of the arts activity

Artistic approach and medium
The project involved a range of art and craft activities, such as sewing, crafts, knitting, henna art and singing. These activities helped the participants develop their creative skills and build their confidence to try new activities and use their skills outside the sessions.

Participant engagement
The project engaged with 108 people in total, working with 65 adults and 43 children. There were 18 women who participated regularly, and 14 women who attended sessions each week.

Details of the project participants

Target population

The target population for the project were drawn from a Community of Interest group, which the People’s Health Trust understand to be a group with a common characteristic and need, and who are socially, and economically disadvantaged because of their characteristics.

The target population for the group was initially the Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities in Bradford. However, this was expanded to include Refugee and Asylum seekers and migrants in the target as participant numbers were initially low and the project wanted to engage more women they believed would benefit from the sessions.

At the beginning of the project, the sessions exclusively involved women; this was widened to temporarily include local men to enable more women to participate, as there were cultural barriers to women attending on their own. However, by the end of the project, only male children were participating. The project engaged mostly adult women between the ages of 16-64. A variety of disabled and able-bodied women were engaged, 8 participants had mental health issues, 5 had physical disabilities, 1 women had a learning disability and 1 women had multiple disabilities.

Project management

Roles and responsibilities
Volunteers were encouraged and supported to become involved in shaping the project and delivering the activities throughout the project, enabling them to take control of the project’s direction.

The project sessions were facilitated by 2 Artworks staff, managed by a project officer and Artworks director. The sessions were delivered by 4 experienced artists, alongside a range of practitioners and staff from the Horton Housing Gateway team.

Quality assurance
Assuring the quality of funded projects is an inherent feature of the project. The organisation was actively encouraged to self-reflect through their progress reports. In addition, local residents being involved in the direction of the initiative was a critical part of the quality control in that local people were in control and able to direct the group’s aim towards for the genuine benefit of the residents of the neighbourhood.

Costs to participants
There was no cost to participants.

Ethics and consent
Artworks Creative agreed as a term of their grant to share any information about the project to be used for evaluation purposes by People’s Health Trust. The group has additionally given consent for this information to be shared with the APPG group.

Evaluation methods and findings

Artworks Creative Communities submitted progress and end of funding reports every 6 months to People’s Health Trust, reflecting on progress and the impact of the project on participant’s wellbeing.

The group evaluated the project with one to one meetings, group discussions and observations in the sessions. A volunteer held structured interviews with small groups of 10 participants at the end of the project and an artist ran a reflective session with participants.

The project lead reported that the sessions helped participants build relationships, learn new skills, and gained confidence to access support services and become more involved in the wider community.

The project reported that the women feel more empowered to tackle issues which are affecting their lives outside the project as they have more confidence, wider support networks and stronger communication skills.

The project participants were able to shape the design and delivery of the sessions, and the activities were changed in response to their feedback. Incorporating participant feedback across the project enabled the women to influence the design of the project, and allowed collective control to develop.

The sessions provided a space for the participants to develop their confidence and build a stronger network of social support. The project lead reported that this has empowered the women to take a more active role in the community.

Through developing control and encouraging participants to develop stronger social links, the project addressed the social determinants of health, as described by the WHO and contributed to tackling the social and health inequalities  experienced by the participants, increasing confidence and wellbeing.

Published/unpublished reports on the project
End of funding reports and six monthly progress reports were supplied to People’s Health Trust.

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England