A pioneering arts project providing a positive mental and social environment for parents in South London.
Grant of: £66,681
Began in: December 2012
Will finish in: December 2014
Partners in this grant are: The South London Gallery and South London and Maudsley Parental Mental Health Team
The Creative Families initiative involves art workshops for local parents and their children, aimed at helping build parent-child relationships and providing an informal, creative space to relieve stress and promote positive mental health through art.
Creative Families began in 2011 and is a collaboration between the South London Gallery and South London and Maudsley Parental Mental Health Team. After initially holding one-off art workshops at the South London Gallery, our funding has enabled the project team to organise a series of weekly workshops. They hope to help up to 72 families by the end of 2014.
The workshops provide a creative space where parents can meet other parents and share parenting experiences. The artists, who have children themselves, give the parents an opportunity to explore parenting and their relationship with their children in a creative and fun way. As members of the South London and Maudsley Parental Mental Health Unit are on hand to provide advice, the sessions also give parents the opportunity to access advice on anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, without the stigma of having to visit the GP or mental health unit. The project has given South London Gallery access to new audiences and also introduced parents to alternative ways of playing and communicating with their children.
“It’s nice to come and be somewhere that other people can relate to my feelings and circumstances and [I have] never been under any pressure or judged. Just completely comfortable.”
“It’s important to do nice things for ourselves as this will make us calmer, happier and influence our children as well.”
“It was nice to meet other mums that are having a hard time as well in different ways, just to see each other and realising you’re not by yourself and that everybody has difficulties.”
“Children have been playing, they’re getting to know each other and the mums know each other, it has really brought everybody together. It has been a good project. And I’ve actually learnt that, no matter what you’re going though, no matter if you’re stressed, you can still play.”
Looking after young children can be challenging, and sometimes lonely, and there often isn't the support that parents can need. Creative Families is an alternative way of reaching people who may not want to directly access mental health services, but do need support and advice to cope with caring for young children.
The workshops use art and creativity to relieve stress and anxiety, and provide a fun environment for parents and their children.
The innovative programme is exploring how using art as a form of expression might work as a basis for mental, social and parental therapy. The idea could potentially be rolled out to other areas of London and the UK.
Creative Families workshops are held in two locations: the South London Gallery and a local children’s centre. The time is divided between joint workshops to promote parent-child relationships, and parent workshops that allow for more adult exploration of feelings. There is an onsite, paid-for crèche during these sessions.
Art-based practices are used during the workshops – building on the idea that art can be a valuable tool to help depict or work out feelings. The sessions involve group-based problem solving and sharing, encouraging parents to air their concerns around parenting, and fun, creative tasks for parents and their children to do together.
A mental health practitioner attends each session, and attendees can call upon their help during or after each session, if they feel they need additional support
The Creative Families arts programme is very much artist-led. Local artists Davina Drummond and Lawrence Bradby lead the sessions and work alongside the attendees to encourage creativity. Mental health practitioners provide additional support where required.
Any parent living in South London can attend the workshops, which run for three hours a week, for 10 sessions.
The project is being evaluated by Alison Rooke at the Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths, University of London.
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