Case Study

“I didn’t know that my mental health would improve so much”

Date published: 28 Oct 2021

Posted by: Joe Pick

Pencil drawing of a field with a dog in it

Andrea is 57 years old. During the third UK COVID-19 lockdown, she took part in several of our Create to Connect workshops. A response to the pandemic, Create to Connect was designed to reduce isolation for people aged 55 and over. Workshops run by 12 different artists were hosted on Zoom.

After losing her job and friends and family during lockdown, the workshops greatly improved Andrea’s mental health. They gave her a confidence boost and helped her feel hopeful again. Her stand out workshop was Into the Woods, led by Rebekah Porter.

I realised during lockdown, having lost a job and friends and family, I had lost hope. The workshops came at the right time to lift my mental health. Having lost my job, my income went during the pandemic, so one of the big motivations to participate in these workshops is that they were free. Receiving watercolours and sketchbooks from City Arts meant a lot. It made it a lot more accessible for me and many others.

‘Into the Woods’ with Rebekah Porter was stand-out brilliant. She made us look at hope during one of the exercises. I now have a jar of hope. I write down all the things that have made me feel joyful. It’s a great way to get through isolation. It’s not just limited to the workshop. It’s something you can take away and using in your everyday life, and that is very special. For Rebekah to bring hope into my life, felt very powerful.

Illustrations from a storybook. Annotated with positive affirmations.
A creative exercise from Rebekah Porter Into the Woods workshop

The ‘School of Noise’ and Singing workshops were a completely new adventure of me – I learned so much. It showed me that there was more to music than my reluctant singing in public. Nikki made the puppetry workshop group feel supported. Seeing the joy of other participants also brings a tear to my eye. As a younger woman, I went to art college, which I loved, but this was better than art college because I had more variety of learning and experience. I got some really positive feedback from Nikki and I thought ‘I can do this!’ It was a magic moment. I gained confidence by attending the City Arts sessions.

Nikki Charlesworth holding a puppet
Artist Nikki Charlesworth leads a puppetry workshop

When I was attending the workshops nearly every day my whole body felt lighter. My mind felt energized and it gave me something to look forward to. I know creativity lifts my mental health, but I didn’t know these courses would take me on such a great adventure. I didn’t know that my mental health would improve so much.

Please note: The participant’s name has been changed to protect their anonymity. The artwork in this article might not have been created by the participant whose story is being shared.

Donate to City Arts

The work we do to inspire creativity changes lives. We bring creativity into overlooked and undervalued communities. We offer opportunities for self-expression to people otherwise denied them. This is only possible with the kind support of our donors and funders. Your donation will directly support this work.