Strategic Plan 2020 – 2026

Thanks to support from City Bridge Trust’s Grants Plus programme, we have created a new Strategic Plan 2020 – 2026 with Locality consultant Lin Gillians. Mentoring from Cranfield Trust consultant Mike Meldrum has also been part of the process.

This is the Executive Summary.




There is a catastrophic gap between what people with serious mental health challenges need, and what is on offer, so we use heritage and creativity to improve people mental health without relying on services.

Exploring the compelling histories of patients in 19th century lunatic asylums, or sensory immersion in mysterious ancient landscapes reignites people’s curiosity and their desire for living.

We are recasting early intervention and prevention away from institutions and into communities, overcoming systematic exclusion from amazing cultural assets that belong to us all. Our groupwork ethos creates new communities that sustain people in the future.

Participants are equal partners in developing projects and shaping their outputs, so we highlight their interest and skills through long-term, meaningful engagement with heritage and creativity.

John Durrant, a member of our Burgh Castle Almanac project, captures our vision: ‘In my life I went through a long time not feeling connected to anything. The project gave me that connection back….Now I’m connected to the world again I want to take this experience as far as I can and I want to give back to the project and people what they have given to me.’

We call this Culture Therapy.


Partners say that we come up with good ideas, and then glue everything together to deliver high quality experiences.  One member described our projects as the Day Hospitals of the Future. These co-created projects have three sets of partners, each contributing to and benefitting from their relationship with us:

  • Participants are people over 18 with serious mental health issues who fall through the gaps between primary and secondary care. University research shows that most participants feel healthier because of joining our projects, including longer term. 
  • Heritage partners provide the sites, collections and online resources where projects happen, as well as experts to work with participants. Heritage partners learn new ways to use their resources for wellbeing and gain insight in reaching a wider and more diverse range of people. 
  • Mental health providers contribute experience of creating relationships with people with serious mental health challenges, as well as offering practical expertise and support. Mental health providersgain access to projects that are outside their usual offer.

Founded in 2015, we are proud that we have:

  • worked with 27 partners, 206 participants and 38 professionals over 498 sessions, raising £411,400;
  • featured on ‘Stonehenge and Mental Health’, a Radio 4 programme heard by 1.27 million people;
  • catalyzed the national Archives for Wellbeing Network funded by the National Archives;
  • been identified as exemplifying Best Practice by the Heritage Fund – see Mental Health Awareness Week blog May 2020.


As an inclusion charity, we try to reflect what we do in how we work. In terms of governance, four trustees, including our Chair, are service users or carers, as are ten Expert Advisory Board (EAB) members. We systematically address barriers like travel, anxiety or digital exclusion – so our Covid-born Digital Offer enables people to join online meetings through equipment loans, data packages, training and support.

We encourage people to pursue their own path. For example Richard Johnson was a Change Minds participant in 2018 and is now Research Coordinator for Dr Hills’ Casebook, and Mark Marshall set up the Trowbridge Service Users Group after finding some real support and friendship from our Human Henge project.

Evaluation is core to our mission.  Recovery oriented wellbeing measures such as the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale are combined with qualitative evaluation through focus groups and interviews.


We are a small charity that wants to grow in impact rather than size, to prove that excellent heritage projects transform peoples’ lives.

Working with partners whose networks penetrate heritage, health, community, creativity and academia, we will shift understanding of how cross-sectoral collaboration supports health and equality. Our vision is that by 2027 Culture Therapy will be everyday good practice.

Over the next five years we will diversify income and raise enough funds to deliver future programmes and cover core costs by the end of 2025.

We will  develop and run five major programmes, rolling out one existing programme and starting a new one each year. These will be in archives, historic landscapes, automotive and conservation. Future programmes will use our hybrid digital plus approach, incorporating outcomes research. Programmes will be developed on the basis of ongoing sustainability, to extend the impact of funding.

Restoration Trust tools and templates will be published, and we will set up a Culture Therapy training programme. We will stimulate wider change by sharing knowledge and networking with key organisations such as the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance, the National Academy for Social Prescribing Academy and the Heritage Alliance.

Core funding will cover running costs and pay the Director and Administrator 2 days a week. Governance training for trustees and expert advisors will make us more robust and inclusive. We will plan the Director’s succession, and support participants to become volunteers, trustees and staff. 

Photo credits: Yvette Staelens, Jeremy Webb, Change Minds, Amander Wellings, Rob Fairclough, Burgh Castle Almanac, Sue Tyler

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