Conservation for Wellbeing Exhibition

Please click on the link to see the exhibition created by Conservation for Wellbeing

Helen Lindsay, who coordinated the project, curated this fantastic exhibition with Conservation for Wellbeing members. The slide show was produced to celebrate and document the experience of everyone involved.

Participants from the mental health support charity ‘SMART’ were invited to join a welcoming group of people at London Metropolitan Archives to take part in a pilot project.  C4W combined paper conservation activities, the archives from St Luke’s Hospital in Islington and research into the wellbeing outcomes for participants, staff and partner organisations.

Thanks to Helen, everyone who came along to the sessions, our partners and our research team – Art Therapist Daisy Rubinstein and UCL’s Dr Helen Thomson. Thanks also to City Bridge Trust, who fund the project.

It’s not quite over yet. Daisy is writing up her research, and that will be used for outcomes evaluation and publication.

£47,400 Cultural Recovery Fund grant for the Restoration Trust

Human Henge gathering December 2019

PRESS RELEASE: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport


  • More help for heritage in need with £14 million investment in England’s historic sites
  • The Restoration Trust is among 162 organisations receiving lifeline grant from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund
  • Culture across the country benefits as 70per cent of latest Culture Recovery funding awarded outside London

Lifeline grants from the latest round of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund will protect a further 162 heritage sites and engagement activities to ensure that jobs and access to arts, culture and heritage in local communities are protected in the months ahead, the Culture Secretary announced today.

More than £9 million has been allocated by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which builds on £103 million awarded to more significant historic places last month. Grants between £10,000 and £1 million have been awarded to stabilise 77 organisations.

In addition, £5 million will go to construction and maintenance projects that have been paused due to the pandemic.

Historic England has allocated £3,971,513 in awards from the Heritage Stimulus Fund, part of a £120 million capital investment from the Culture Recovery Fund, to restart construction and maintenance projects facing delays or increased costs as a result of the pandemic and save specialist livelihoods in the sector.

The Restoration Trust has been awarded £47,400 to ensure that we are in good heart to deliver our exceptional heritage projects with people with mental health challenges now and in the future. The grant includes funding for Human Henge Hybrid, a blended online and by post experience of Stonehenge’s ancient landscape in partnership with English Heritage and Richmond Fellowship that builds on our successful Human Henge project in the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. This will engage 12 local people who experience social exclusion because of their mental health.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

“These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities.

From St Paul’s and Ronnie Scott’s to The Lowry and Durham Cathedral, we’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it can bounce back strongly.”

Laura Drysdale, Director of the Restoration Trust said: ‘This is a lifeline to sustain our use of heritage and creativity to improve people’s mental health without relying on services.  The Human Henge Hybrid project is a unique opportunity to trial a way of working that can connect people with heritage despite Covid-19 and help tackle digital exclusion.’

The Restoration Trust works with people with mental health challenges to widen participation in heritage. Our innovative partnership projects exploring the compelling histories of patients in 19th century lunatic asylums, or sensory immersion in mysterious ancient landscapes, reignite people’s curiosity and love of life. Refocussing early intervention and prevention away from institutions and into communities overcomes systematic exclusion from amazing cultural assets that belong to us all. Weaving partnerships and groups into new communities has long term impacts on people and places. Participants are equal partners, so we highlight their interest and skills through meaningful involvement. We call this Culture Therapy, and we want it to be everyday good practice by 2027.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…’’

74 organisations are also receiving grants of up to £25,000 from the Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund, launched by Historic England and almost quadrupled thanks to the Culture Recovery Fund, to cover maintenance and repairs urgently needed on historic buildings and sites up and down the country.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive said:

“Historic places across the country, from Durham Cathedral embodying more than a thousand years of history to the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, much loved by children and grownups alike, are being supported by the Government’s latest round of grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kickstarting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of Covid-19. It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help to keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“The Government’s £1.57bn package for culture is unprecedented and it’s important to acknowledge how valuable this has been for our heritage organisations and visitor attractions.  Although we are not able to support everyone facing difficulties, today’s funding package helps a diverse range of heritage organisations from across the country survive, adapt and plan for a brighter future through the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage.

“By the end of this financial year we will have distributed almost £600m of Government and National Lottery Funding to heritage organisations. Investing in heritage remains vitally important, creating jobs and economic prosperity, driving tourism, supporting our wellbeing and making our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  There is a lot more work to do to address the ongoing challenges, but this funding has provided a future for much of our heritage and the organisations that care for it, when it might otherwise have been permanently lost.”

All four nations are benefiting from the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, with £188 million barnetted to the Devolved Administrations to run their own process – £97 million for Scotland, £59 million for Wales and £33 million for Northern Ireland. This funding will enable them to increase the support already available to the arts and cultural sectors in each nation.

Over £18 million in funding will go to 8 arts and cultural organisations around the country in the second round of grants between £1 million and £3 million awarded by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, it has also been announced today. This funding builds on £75 million in grants over £1 million for iconic venues like Shakespeare’s Globe and the Sheffield Crucible last month.

Notes to editors

A full list of organisations receiving funding is available from Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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

The Return of Happy Times

In September we premiered the Burgh Castle Almanac’s film ‘The Return of Happy Times’, at the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft. This lovely, safe event was a celebration that included project members, their friends and families, as well as Burgh Castle Almanac partners and contributors.

Recorded over the past year, the film – the title is taken from a saying on a Roman coin found by Adrian Charlton at the Fort – illustrates the kind of activities the BCA have been involved in, with members also explaining how the group has benefited them.

The film is directed by Lowestoft-based photographer and filmmaker Julian Claxton, together with members of the group. Julian was interviewed at the premiere by Robert Fairclough.

Please watch it, and share it. It’s hoped that other parts of the country will take up the BCA model, and the film is seen as a major contributing factor towards achieving that aim.