Out of the Blue (OOB)

HOOT Stretch Yourself - Charleston Live © Jenni Baker
HOOT Sing Your Head Off © Olivia Hemingway
Hoot Creative Arts logo

Aims: Out of the Blue offers regular weekly access to a wide range of participative arts activity for people with mental health needs. It aims to increase involvement in the arts both as participants and audiences, in the process developing new skills and fostering improvements in social, emotional and physical wellbeing. It works on a co-production model, including people as active agents in developing bespoke programmes of arts-engagement geared to promoting social inclusion, self-determination and self-confidence, personally and artistically. In addition elements of the programme actively develop group-work, peer-support and facilitation skills that will enable the development of more user-led activity and greater self-reliance.

Overall, the service aims to promote recovery, social inclusion and self-determination, decrease social isolation and assist where appropriate in the journey into employment, voluntary work, work experience and further education.

OOB is funded under contract by Joint Mental Health Commissioners in Kirklees comprising Kirklees Council, the NHS Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Timescale and delivery dates
Hoot has been developing this programme and approach since its inception in 2001, seeking to establish opportunities for consistent engagement in place of ad-hoc or one-off projects. This submission concerns the latest stage of development, dating from 2014 when Hoot re-won the tender to deliver the Kirklees Arts & Mental Health Service, scheduled to continue until 2018.

The programme is delivered primarily in 2 community based accessible arts centres and provides for the whole of Kirklees, with additional outreach sessions.

Description of the arts activity

The programme offers a range of on-going groups that promote co-operative participatory art in order to develop the social relationships and personal confidence central to wellbeing.  Art forms available every week include music, harmony singing, visual arts, writing, dance, digital arts.  Additional 1-1 artistic mentoring is also available to visual arts and digital music studio participants.  There are regular opportunities to showcase, exhibit and perform work through live events, exhibitions and wider digital platforms.

The artistic programme runs 5 days a week with an average of 40 weeks actual delivery in blocks of 10-12 sessions across the year to groups of between 6-15 participants.  Each sessional delivery lasts 2 hours.  Outreach sessions are delivered in diverse communities to increase service awareness and participant engagement.

At the beginning of engagement participants co-produce a Creative Arts Plan (CAP) setting out personal and artistic goals and the chosen creative route to achieve this. It includes landmarks/timescales against which to assess progress and forms a central benchmark for assessing outcomes (see “evaluation” section).  Additional support is available through individual mentoring, peer-support, professional artist guidance and group facilitation.

Sessions are delivered by experienced community artists with an additional support worker and volunteer. Artists are either employed by Hoot or freelance artists selected and engaged using our quality framework. Participants are encouraged to take greater responsibility for the group over time, supported by a training programme leading to enhanced skills and equipping people for volunteering roles.

Details of the project participants

The service is for people over 18 living in Kirklees who experience serious mental ill-health and for those who whose mental health is at risk. Access to the service is by referral via health and social services, other third sector agencies or by self-referral. Regular outreach sessions and awareness-raising activities recruit new members, reach new referrers and keep current referrers in touch.

Project management

The project is managed in accordance with Hoot’s quality standards wherein all artists and support staff are suitably trained and experienced and appropriate DBS checks are in place. A service manager ensures overall quality standards remain high, alongside the requirements of contractors and the Arts Council.  This service is free to participants.  Integral systems ensure service user engagement through regular consultation and user-representatives. Icarus manages external evaluation. Participant consent forms are kept on file and protocols exist for intellectual copyright on artworks.

Evaluation methods and findings

A simple outcomes framework has been adopted that seeks to evidence progress against wellbeing indicators based on the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ model developed by New Economics Foundation – Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give, with the addition of a sixth way to wellbeing, Be Creative. This is a recognised and researched model of assessing wellbeing benefits, it aligns with the service specification and provides an accessible and easily understood means to describe change and to disseminate results.  Hoot employs two tools in order to generate quantitative and qualitative data and to make the framework participative, outcome focussed and interpretive of the value of impacts:

1. The Mixing Desk tool
A simple, user-led slider system that blends a measurable indicator of change linked to the 6 Ways to Wellbeing, together with a discussion around key words linked to each service user’s Creative Arts Plan.  All service participants are invited to take part in this process. This tool is used periodically (usually every 6 months) to generate distance-of-travel information that is personal, and also able to be aggregated for the service overall through secure links to external evaluation agency Icarus.

2. Return on Investment case studies
Icarus has conducted ROI case studies with service users, measuring the cost of generating outcomes for service users and compares this with indicative savings or reductions in costs elsewhere brought about by the intervention.  Active participation of participants enables tracking of a range of inputs and a full picture of the value of Hoot’s contribution to change.

1. The Evaluation Report for 2014-15 using the Six Ways to Wellbeing shows the average starting score for services users is 3.7 (out of 6.0). The average second score is 4.3 evidencing average progress of 0.6 of a point over all. Scores from each slider showed an average progression of 0.9 points on Be Creative, 0.8 points on Keep Learning, 0.7 points on Take Notice, 0.6 points on Give, 0.2 points on Be Active and 0.1 points on Connect.  The feedback from service users when reviewing progress against goals is largely positive with a large majority of participants identifying good progress against personal development and artistic goals.

2. Two case studies have generated the following evidence of social value and economic impact:
“Hoot input generated an additional £2.76 (study 1) and £0.89 (study 2) in savings in return for every £1 invested alongside other resources.

The greatest learning/knowledge pertaining to generating quantitative data to evidence impacts is that mental health recovery is not linear!

Details of reports:

  • Hoot Return on Investment Case Studies 2015 by Icarus (Not published)
  • Outcomes – Out of the Blue 2014-15 Report by Icarus (excerpts published from Hoot’s annual Report to Commissioners on Kirklees Council Website:  http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/community/careInKirklees/pdf/HootOutBlueAnnua... )
  • (full report includes excerpts from the outcomes report from Hoot’s Breathing Space service for people with dementia and their carer, which is the sister commissioned project to Out of the Blue)
  • Outcomes – Out of the Blue 2015-16 Report by Icarus (due)


Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England