About Us

The Restoration Trust is a charity that works in partnership with heritage, arts and health and social care organisations to offer culture therapy to people who live with mental health challenges.

Culture Therapy uses heritage and creativity to improve people’s mental health without relying on mental health services. Our projects explore heritage through walks, excavations, discussions, behind-the-scenes tours, individual research, music, drama, storytelling and art.

Connection roots us in a community that’s bigger than ourselves. Belonging, friendship, asylum… all words which describe a place of safety for those who seek or need it. Dr Hills (Norfolk County Asylum Medical Superintendent, 1861-87) cared about people and saw them as individuals. Real people, with real symptoms and real stories. His casebook, now in the Norfolk Record Office, informs the way we work.

The challenge for mental health today is that, while knowledge has expanded, bed accessibility and treatment options haven’t. We’re committed to changing that, and delivering pro-active support where people live because weaving partnerships and groups into new communities has a long-term impact on people and places.

Engaging with creativity and heritage involves our whole selves: mind, body and spirit. What if all heritage assets could be used like this? To help people feel less like patients, and more like valued members of society? To help people get wrapped up in a new story, and to illuminate the joy of shared heritage to those who feel alone? Culture therapy makes that possible.

Our projects are high quality experiences that are safe for people with complex mental health issues. But that doesn’t mean they are exceptionally expensive. It costs around £30 per hour for one person to attend a Restoration Trust session. This compares to one 9-minute visit to a GP at £37, one NHS psychological therapy session at £95 per hour and one day on a mental health ward at £410.

Culture Therapy is the use of heritage and creativity to improve people’s mental health without relying on mental health services.

Our Mission

To help people with mental health challenges better connect to others and their community, through engagement with heritage and creativity. This is Culture Therapy.

To support people’s mental health by involving them in creating innovative partnership programmes that use historic places – both natural and architectural – plus archives and collections to stimulate people’s curiosity and imagination.

To demonstrate the value of heritage in improving mental health, by collaborating with heritage organisations, health services and academic researchers.

To ensure that we are a resilient, accountable and agile organisation that is always learning through evaluation, that takes well-judged risks, and shares our knowledge.

Our History

The Restoration Trust formed in April 2014 as a Community Organisation, with a mission to bridge the gap between cultural and health/social organisations.

Laura Drysdale (Director) knew from supporting people with mental health problems for Homegroup and Julian Support that socially isolated and marginalised people often have cultural and creative enthusiasms, which connect them to the outside world and are vital to their wellbeing. However, these are seldom acknowledged by health and social care provision.

Our Aims

Building enduring communities and friendships.

Companionship and belonging are essential for a decent life. The connections and friendships that are built through our work can be deep, sustained, and long-lasting. We’re not offering a cure-all, but we can promise meaningful participation and pro-active support for everyone who joins us. Isn’t that how mental health support should be?

Immersing people in the activities that give them hope.

Engrossing ourselves in heritage and creativity has significant health benefits. Walking with experts and artists in an ancient landscape is good exercise that arouses our senses and feeds our minds. Exploring compelling archives is an absorbing, immediate experience of history in the making. Creative writing can help us communicate powerful ideas in a few words, and photography can capture a moment that we can look back on fondly for years. These culture therapy activities are a dose of hope in a society that often seems cold and un-friendly.

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