Museums as Spaces for Wellbeing – Second Report

The Restoration Trust features in Museums as Spaces for Wellbeing: A Second Report from the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing which explores the development of museums, health and wellbeing work in the UK.

Our Human Henge project features as a case study in the report.

HH case study

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Human Henge: A view beyond the stones

By Mr BPD, our blogger for Human Henge at Stonehenge in 2017

I have started to write this several times and I have come to realise that I really hate self-promotion. Although this is more about how I got here than slapping myself on the back. but I am very happy and proud of how far I have come and what I hope to achieve.

My story starts in 1971 the year I was born, and one day I plan to write it; but this is about is about life after Human Henge, so lets start my story when I arrived in Wiltshire.

I realised after moving to Trowbridge that mental health service were much worse that the tiny village of Sherborn. Services were limited or miles away and I knew that something was needed and from my experience of mental health services I new that it had to be service user led and on going.

I had tried to set to things with up with mental health agencies. I found that not that they were resistant it was more an issues of resources or they were more interested in services that providing projects that were more geared either to returning to work or what I refer to as basket weaving (project are run for limited time offering no real structure).

I never gave up on the idea of starting something but although I had asked for help I could not get the support I needed. Time had moved on some, and well I really had become isolated and needed something to give a reason to leave the house and interact with other human beings.

Luckily the Human Henge Project came along which gave me a chance to rekindle a few skills, it allowed me to write under the name Mr BPD and reconnect to my spiritual side. After the project ended, which is always a sad part, the group stand together and in touch and meet up regularly.

This connection is the most important part of any project and it only comes when service users invest in a project. I had mentioned about setting up a sort of project based around a magazine and the feedback was good and lots of people were interested but sadly the service provided only wanted a basic writing group that I could see would just become a basket weaving group so declined the offer to run it as I did not have the skills I believed to make the project a success.

After a change in care coordinator who had different knowledge I was introduced to the person in charge of service user involvement.

After a few conversations it was very clear that we both wanted the same thing, a user led project that would grow into the service that is needed. I had been let down a few times so did not let myself get too invested.

Just before Christmas we met once again to talk about a venue and thought about Tesco Community Room so we made some enquiries, we found out that we met the requirements to use the room but the person in charge of the diary was not available and would not be back till the New Year so we left our details and waited for a call.

On the 11th January I got a call. Tesco had called they had a cancellation and they had a four-hour slot on Monday and could we meet on the 12th outside Tesco.

We met and agreed we would go for it four-hours on a Monday we walked and met with the person in charge of the room. Within minutes we had agreed to take the room on the coming Monday and on a long-term basis and came up with the name Trowbridge Users Group (TUG).

We then went off for a coffee and realised what we had just agreed to: it was lunchtime Friday and the first group would be on Monday. There was no time to get the word out but we would try.

So I rushed home to get the word out and by Saturday morning TUG had a functioning website, FaceBook page, Twitter account. The rest of the weekend was propagating content and making posters. And trying to put together a mission statement and a framework of ideas of how the group would run and how service users could be actively involved.

We had agreed to starting group as a coffee and chat drop-in and let the group grow organically after finding out what people wanted. I thought it would be good to involve as many service providers as possible, not to run the group but to come in as guest speakers and say what they do and how they can help and how to access the service. This way service users could take a more active roll in their recovery. We all know that the mental health service across this country has been starved of resources and staff are under a deal of great stress and many service users are not informed about services available so by inviting service providers users can take a proactive role in their recovery.

Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) has one main aim, which is to involve as many service users as possible and become a voice for change within mental health. We are actively encouraging service users to get involved in planning events and running on line service as FaceBook and Twitter Admin and as blog writers. We hope in time to have service users sharing their skills and business ideas and act as mentors to others. The possibilities for this project are endless and one day I hope it becomes the gold standard for service user involvement and will shape mental health services so they are more service user led.

Things are still in their early days but we have booked the Restoration Trust, Health Watch Wiltshire, and The Wiltshire and Swindon Users’ Network to come in and talk and explain what they do, in time I will be inviting more. And if you’re reading this and feel you have something to offer the mental health service user of Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) I would love to hear from you.

I will not devalue the work I have put and will put into Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) but I will say if it was not for the confidence and friends I gained from Human Henge I’m not sure I would have had the guts to push forward. They are a constant source of support and encouragement and have assisted in the launch of the Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) with help proofreading content and joining and sharing the TUG FaceBook page and retweeting news.

If you would like to more about Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) please visit

Web http://www.trowbridgeusersgroup.co.uk

FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/TUG2018/

Twitter @AdminTug

Email admin@trowbridgeusersgroup.co.uk

Trowbridge Users Group (TUG) runs every Monday 1 to 5 at the community room, Tesco Extra

County Way

Trowbridge

BA14 7AQ

Press release: Norfolk mental health project Change Minds goes national!

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Norfolk mental health project Change Minds goes national!

Norman Lamb MP hosts reception for Norfolk mental health project Change Minds at the Houses of Parliament

www.changeminds.org.uk

“There is more to somebody than just mental health problems.”

Change Minds participant

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Change Minds Private view at The Forum, Norwich, Monday 20th November.

To celebrate two years of Norfolk archives and mental health project Change Minds, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has invited participants to the Houses of Parliament for a special visit and reception on Monday 4th of December 2017.

Change Minds helps very disadvantaged people in North Norfolk make creative use of Norfolk Record Office and local libraries for their mental health. Through the 19th century asylum archives in Norfolk Record Office, participants explore life with a mental health problem in the 1880s, and compare it with their experience today. Research by the UEA and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust shows that Change Minds participants feel more positive and have reduced their use of health services.

The project is a partnership between the Restoration Trust, Norfolk Record Office, Norfolk Library and Information Service and Together for Mental Wellbeing, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our new project in Norwich starts in February at the Millennium Library, with funding from Town Close Estate Charity.

We want to spread the word about Change Minds at national level because evidence shows that it is an innovative, cost-effective way to connect very disadvantaged people with local history and each other so that their mental health improves.  

In the morning Head of Parliamentary Archives David Prior will show participants original documents relating to asylums and mental health treatment from the 19th Century to today. The afternoon reception in Portcullis House will include speeches by participants, Isobel Hunter – Head of Archives Sector Development at the National Archives, Joff Whitten – Heritage Lottery Fund East of England Committee, and Norman Lamb MP. Attendees will include Clive Lewis MP, Chloe Smith MP, Rehman Chishti MP, Kevan Jones MP, Andrew Mitchell MP, Lord Alan Howarth and Baroness Hollins.

Change Minds has just had a major exhibition at the Forum in Norwich, launched with an event attended by the Sheriff of Norwich, the Chairman of Norfolk County Council and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, with media in the Eastern Daily Press, on BBC Radio Norfolk and Future Radio. Visited by more than 1,000 people, comments included: ‘Really fascinating – revisiting themes that impact on mental health just as relevant today – poverty, family relationship breakdown, isolation, alcohol use: ‘Brilliant, we need to do more of this, ALL of us. Mental illness is not shameful.’

Director of the Restoration Trust Laura Drysdale says: ‘We’re delighted that Change Minds participants have the opportunity to tell national politicians and decision makers about the difference this successful archives and mental health project has made to their lives. We are really grateful to the project’s patron Norman Lamb MP for hosting us at the Houses of Parliament.’

The Restoration Trust’s culture therapy projects at Norfolk Record Office, Burgh Castle, Norwich Arts Centre, Stonehenge and Avebury help people with serious mental health problems enjoy heritage, art and culture in a safe, effective way.

“We need to make a vital cultural shift to help us ensure that the arts are fully embedded in the health and social care system.”

Rt Hon. John Glen MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Arts, Heritage and Tourism


For more information about Change Minds and the Restoration Trust contact

Laura Drysdale: laura@restorationtrust.org.uk | 07740844883

Coming up: Human Henge at TAG 2017

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The 2017 Theoretical Archaeology Conference takes place at

Cardiff University from 18th-20th of December

The timetable is now available on the Theoretical Archaeology Conference 2017 website here. Our session on ‘Archaeology, heritage and well-being’, led by Restoration Trust Director, Laura Drysdale, and Professor Tim Darvill, from Bournemouth University, will be on Tuesday 19th December. This will begin at 9.30am and is a three-quarter day session with a wide range of papers to be discussed.

Find out more about the session here.

You can also follow TAG 2017 on Twitter here.

Session Abstract
Archaeology, Heritage and Well-being

The concept of therapeutic landscapes was developed by Wil Gesler in the early 1990s, building on contemporary theory in the field of cultural ecology. It has since expanded to become a key concept in health geography applicable at a range of scales. But whether natural, designed, or symbolic, places connected with healing the body and soul have been recognized and studied for much longer. Routes of pilgrimage, destinations for health-giving visits, facilities for ‘taking the waters’, hospitals, and gardens surrounding asylums and institutions, have all been instrumental in formalizing relationships between place, space, and well-being that have been promoted and applied in many different ways and with varying degrees of real or perceived success. This session will consider archaeological and heritage dimensions of therapeutic landscapes, asking what can be learnt from the study of existing sites and whether there is a role for developing new ones appropriate for the needs of the 21st century. Contributions are invited in relation to three main themes. First, studies of recognized therapeutic landscapes through historical or archaeological investigations that enrich understandings of their construction and use. Second, case-studies of recent or ongoing projects that make use of archaeological sites or heritage resources to promote physical or mental well-being amongst defined participant communities. And third, analyses of the philosophical and theoretical frameworks appropriate to the study of archaeology and heritage in relation to health and well-being.