Developing the health and well-being of learners though creative activity.

Developing the health and well-being of learners though creative activity.

16-March-2021
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Since 2017, our tutor Helen Ingham has worked with our Mind partner learners, developing their art skills and facilitating creative activities in the Creative Hub. Helen shares her thoughts with us, reflecting on events from the last year and how these have led to her adapting her learning.
Helen has many years of experience in community art, teaching, and art therapy; she is also a practicing artist. She adopts a hands-on approach in designing schemes of work that have supported learners to explore their creative nature and support their well-being. Helen has experimented with artistic ideas and at times, gets the opportunity to work alongside the learners as she is teaching.

From a single course, interest has grown doubling the learner numbers from which two groups have been created. Learners have the opportunity to gain qualifications, which provides an additional incentive to some, though participation in the creative process within a supportive environment is the main incentive for most. The courses offer a space for positive well-being and creativity to flourish.

Learning through Covid-19
Helen has retained many learners on a series of courses which has allowed her to witness the development of her learners in so many ways. She has seen the positive impact her lessons have had on her learner’s mental health, increasing self-esteem and prioritising ‘social connection’ through art.

Helen says,

“Throughout the challenging last year, the objective has been to keep people in contact with each other and engaged. Both the weekly meet-ups and the art making itself have kept everyone going.”

Helen and many of her learners have adapted to online delivery, and for many the continuation of art lessons has been a lifeline. The weekly lessons have enabled learners to stay connected, offering a safe space to develop artwork, stay in touch and make new friends throughout the difficult year. For some, these lessons have been the only time they have had the chance or felt comfortable to engage with others.

Adapting to lockdown life has been challenging to everyone. Initially, some learners felt uneasy about participating in online learning as use of digital platforms and communications could at times feel daunting. Helen supported her learners by printing and posting tasks to learners who weren’t comfortable with digital means, and regular phone calls to go through tasks. She gave additional support to those that wanted to engage with digital technologies, through emails and the setting up of a website to share resources, photos and positive imagery. This later developed into using Moodle and Microsoft Teams to support and facilitate the classes.

Helen has explored creative ways to teach her learners, from creating personalised art packs delivered by post, to using a webcam to demonstrate techniques. Conveying and sharing art through video has been something that Helen and her learners have had to work around and adjust to - holding up sketchbooks and artwork to the camera and describing artworks; this has developed additional communication skills throughout the online learning. Digital skills and confidence have increased to the extent that most now participate in Microsoft Teams sessions, photographing and posting images of their artwork onto the Moodle platform, although Helen concedes,

“I miss not being able to peek over someone’s shoulder and see the work being made!”

All Round Benefits
From the learner perspective, Helen’s efforts have been clearly welcomed, with one learner saying,

“It’s been wonderful to still be able to take part. It’s an extra boost, having to do something.”


Another learner added,

“Most important for me was seeing other people, old friends and making new ones. It made a lot of difference. And the banter! It has helped so much.”

 

As new learners joined the art classes during the last year, Helen hasn’t yet had the chance to meet some learners face-to-face. Despite getting to know them really well using Teams, she is looking forward to meeting them and seeing their art works in person too. In the future, Helen hopes to organise an exhibition to celebrate the artworks created over the last year. Until then, images of the art created are uploaded to the Facebook page where learners are able to see the groups’ art work together in a virtual gallery format.

Our congratulations go to Helen and her learners. Keep up the great work and we look forward to seeing more art online and at an exhibition in the near future. To see Helen’s art work and other projects please visit www.artmedicine.co.uk.

To find out more about art courses, please click here.

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