About Us - Start: arts and wellbeing
'We are open for referrals from partners and our members continue to make amazing progress at home. We are so proud of their resilience during this difficult time' Bernadette CEO START
Up until recently START had prided itself in bringing people together to take part in creative and horticulture activities in our central studio base and local community venues in order to improve mental health and wellbeing.
Like many organisations the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many challenges and we have had to quickly adapt and develop our services in response to the outbreak. In line with Government advice and having suspended all face-to-face and group activities, we have worked to mobilise staff to work from home and have now successfully devised an innovative and comprehensive package of support for our many members/ service users and volunteers.
This adaptation has not come easily, and staff have had to work hard to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to keep connected to START; overcoming challenges around digital barriers has meant that we have had to think carefully about accessibility so that no one is at a disadvantage due to their personal circumstances at home.
Our new menu of support options includes:
- Telephone contact- all members and volunteers are contacted by telephone each week and people have been signposted where necessary to the various forms of support that are available locally as well as information being sent out via email and post about websites/ telephone lines etc. that can be accessed for specific conditions on a national level.
- YouTube- START has set up a new channel and staff are uploading new creative activity videos each week to enable members to continue with creative activities during the lockdown. These activities are currently being transcribed to allow us to send them in the post to those who do not have access to the internet.
- Instagram- START staff are adding new activities and challenges each week for members to try and for them to send in pictures of their own work. This is a more interactive way of remaining in touch with members and we have had some impressive images posted. We also send the challenges out via email and call people with the details to enable those without digital means to engage in the activities.
- Online Wellbeing hub- this online hub can be accessed via a personal log in on our website and staff have been registering more members and adding to the range of creative wellbeing activities that are available to do and self-help sheets that are available to download. A video has been produced to visually take people through the different parts of the hub as an introduction to the content.
- Live Online sessions- some of our sessions have been adapted and are now functioning via Zoom. We are now posting art materials out to some members as well as worksheets to those who can not access sessions online. Going forward we see this as a good way of involving people with START before they physically attend the service, it would help us to cope with increased demand and reach those who due to barriers to getting to our physical base may not have previously engaged.
- Provision of Art Packs- we have worked with community partners to deliver a large number of art packs with written instructions to hard to reach groups during this time, many of whom are self isolating. This has included refugees and asylum seekers staying in large hotels in the area, SEN children, and young people.
- Five Ways to Wellbeing Newsletter- this is produced on a weekly basis and is sent out to all our community participants and partner agencies via email and post with helpful information about wellbeing initiatives based on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.
- Members Newsletter- this is produced weekly to inform members of all new live sessions and online acivities available to them. This is posted or emailed dependant upon their circumstances.
We have adapted significantly to ensure we provide a range of ways for people to stay connected to us during this time of forced isolation so that they can continue to receive the support of START and it’s services. Nothing will replace the face to face interventions that we are renowned for in Salford, and the benefits people feel as they work alongside peers and friends within studios and community rooms - we miss welcoming people into our building, we have created a place where people feel safe and more able to be themselves- and we can’t wait to get back.
We do however hope to be able to take away many positives from this time; we are thinking differently about how our services may be delivered in the future to better meet the needs of more people, using the learning we have gained during these times of challenge to benefit our community longer term.
Many vulnerable people in our community are too often left on the sidelines or hidden from view. Yet plenty have untapped potential and are capable of achieving extraordinary things. START exists to nurture those talents and bring about a newfound confidence in those who feel isolated or excluded. With our help, members learn valuable new skills and their stories are truly inspirational.
From our fully resourced centre at Brunswick House, members have access to some excellent facilities, including art and media studios, craft workshops and gardens. We also work in a number of community venues across Salford.
It is from here that professional tutors bring out the best in our members, so that they can grow in confidence, build self-esteem and become valued contributors to the wider community.
How getting creative improves mental health
The creative activities we provide at START have been successful in helping people overcome emotional difficulties and reach new heights. The opportunity to be creative acts as a social outlet for our members as well as being a great way to learn new skills. It empowers them to express themselves more clearly and come to a better understanding of their place in the world and what they are capable of achieving.
With this knowledge and confidence, our members go on to further training, volunteering and employment. Some have made extraordinary progress and have even come back to us in the role of tutor or mentor. It’s a measure of just how much our members can achieve once they summon up the courage to first walk through our door.
Five Simple Steps to Improve Wellbeing
At START, we focus on five steps that lead people to become better, more positive and more aspirational individuals. Watch our video to see these principles in action, and be inspired yourself!
Connect... Talk and listen to people around you. Share experiences with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours.
Be active... Go for a walk, play a game, dance. Whether indoors or outdoors, alone or with others, exercise is as good for the mind as it is for the soul.
Take notice... Be curious, ask questions and learn to see the beauty in all that surrounds you, taking time to think about what really matters.
Keep learning... Try something new, rediscover an old interest, join a group or take a course. Never stop learning – it makes life much more interesting.
Give... Take some time out to help someone. A nice gesture, no matter how big or small, will make you feel better as well as the person you’re helping. Take pride in the difference you make.