Creativity Works

Creativity Works logo

Creativity Works – Mental Health Creative Support Service (MHCSS).  Creativity Works uses creativity as a catalyst for personal and social development, with people of all ages, from all backgrounds. Founded in North East Somerset 30 years ago, the charity works with a range of partners—from mental health practitioners to children’s services —to deliver positive change through creative projects.

The Mental Health Creative Support Service [MHCSS] provides a person-centred process of engagement and progression which supports people with mental health needs in B&NES to take up opportunities in the community and support their transition from using mental health services to community based activities and or to develop their own peer led creative support group. The service also supports strategic events and activity across B&NES. The service is an integral part of well-being services across B&NES, which incorporates Sirona Care & Health, St Mungo’s, Bath Mind and the Wellbeing College social prescribing pilot project. Partner organisations working in mental health provide support for projects in kind.

The success of the service depends upon:

  • Creativity Works’ innovative Creative Progression Process developed from 8 years of participant-led delivery and evaluation of the service, and involves and includes participants in developing direct involvement in service provision and in developing a ‘voice’ which helps to inform and shape services
  • Provides participants with access to meaningful and inspiring creative activities which assist them to develop a sense of purpose, gain new skills and move towards independent living
  • Strong delivery partnerships with local organisations including St. Mungo’s, Sirona, Bath Mind, Avon & Wiltshire mental health partnership trust (AWP), the B&NES Wellbeing College and other services as appropriate.
  • Strong links with statutory mental health services and culture which explore the extension of the service to address prevention initiatives

The service addresses:

  • Wellbeing and Health
  • Development and Progression pathways
  • Community engagement and events

Description of the arts activity

The service works with a wide range of socially engaged artists. This means that artists work with genuine depth and repertoire, allowing participants to feel supported, factoring in time and space for personal and social reflection, development and growth. Artists that we work with are often multi-talented and work in a wide range of art forms including visual arts, writing, music, drama, photography, IT and more to ensure a creative, responsive approach to ensuring the projects meet the needs of participants and are bespoke.

Projects very often combine with community and culture  and provide opportunities to exhibit and present work through local, regional and national events.

MHCSS offers people experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health issues a chance to build confidence, learn new skills and make new friends. Participants can join a variety of free weekly creative groups, from ‘photography and rambling’ to ‘writing space’. If participants want groups to continue, Creativity Works helps them take the steps to independence, assisting with the practicalities of budgets and planning alongside members. Creativity Works remains on hand to provide support, but independence is the goal.

Details of the project participants

Creativity Works works with people of all ages and all backgrounds who could benefit from creative inspiration in their lives.  The MHCSS has a focus on working with adults 19+ who experience mental health challenges and want to support their wellbeing through creativity.
Participants include:

  • Anyone currently using primary or secondary mental health services.
  • Carers (friends & family) of anyone with mental health problems.
  • Volunteers

Participants can self refer to the project by using contacts on posters and leaflets. People are more often referred by the agencies involved. A referral form is available.

Project management

Project decisions and design are made by Creativity Works Creative Wellbeing Programme Manager in partnership with mental health support organisations, service users, community groups and volunteers. On the Fresh Arts project the steering group which meets quarterly and is made up of service users, volunteers, Fresh art@ worker, CW Creative Wellbeing Manager, AWP Art Therapists and AWP Service Users & Carers Involvement Coordinator, Bath Museum Learning & Community Engagement officer and Sirona Community Support Worker. On the My Time My Space Project steering group is made up of children’s centre staff, health visitors, artist, past participants and volunteers.

Project management and day to day decisions are in the majority made by CW Creative Wellbeing Manager with Fresh Arts Worker and Volunteer Coordinator and shared with other partnership organisations depending on the project. The Fresh Art@ worker is responsible for the majority with face to face work with service users, carers and supports referral into projects from mental health services.

Cost to participants: free

Ethics & consent: A number of consent forms are in use and have been adapted over the  years.  Careful consideration of risk is also discussed and a procedure for transparency and sharing helpful material from each individual care plan with the agencies involved for delivering the workshops is being updated.

Evaluation methods and findings

Various evaluations, reports and presentations have been written. Attached to this report are:

  • Creativity Works Case Study – Cultural Commissioning Programme
  • Case Study – NCVO
  • Creative Links – the MHCSS Monitoring Report 2014-15
  • Fresh Art Review of Findings 2014-15
  • My Time My Space report 2014-15

The most recent is from a Focus group of the Fresh Art @ Ward 4 project which reported benefits of participation including:

  • Freedom to express yourself: nurturing individuality; freedom; becoming inspired; developing confidence and pride; finding a niche that feels authentic; noticing progress; identifying what works and doesn’t work for oneself.
  • Museums are inspiring environments to work in: being in a creative environment supported the development of skills; experiencing a relaxing and supportive atmosphere and being able to get close to objects.
  • Hope and looking into the future: participating in the workshops has created perspectives to looking forward and thinking what to do next.
  • Being taught by and artist: a secure structure that helps to get going, particularly with quick results to start with; expert advice and guidance; working across different media.
  • Experiencing community: the workshops themselves had an important social component.
  • Planning and Participating in the Exhibition: ‘superbly proud and chuffed’; it was a group experience; professional presentation of art work , learning how to plan a display and hang pictures.


Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England