Welcome to Our New Board Members.

ACHWS held its AGM in August and were delighted to welcome three new board members – Lewis, Sally and Vanessa. Over the coming editions, we will introduce you to the wider board but wanted to start off by introducing our new faces.

Lewis Hou, Director, Science Ceilidh – Lewis is passionate about community engagement across the culture and research sector. He is leading on work exploring a more equitable system including through participatory grant making and capacity building with communities directly. He founded Science Ceilidh in 2016 whilst still doing neuroscience research.

The Science Ceilidh is an organisation focused on connecting communities, research, culture and wellbeing through supporting the trusted connectors – grassroots groups, librarians, youth workers, educators, and researchers – across Scotland to work together and be curious, get creative, build knowledge and networks, and action social change in their communities.  They also host the Culture & Wellbeing Community Network Scotland

 Lewis explains: ‘Culture has an incredible role to play in supporting health and wellbeing and it is vital we recognise, value and support the most grassroots and underrepresented groups to lead this and support cultural democracy.  Building relationships and collaborations in this work is key. I’m excited to be part of ACHWS to share our learning and amplify community perspectives to build a collective voice for arts and health in Scotland’.

Sally Thomson, Director, Grampian Hospitals Arts Trust – Sally has been leading the way as director of Grampian Hospitals Art Trust (GHAT) for more than a decade. GHAT is a leading arts organisation based in healthcare settings in the North-East of Scotland.

Their prime purpose is to enhance the experience and wellbeing of all who spend time in NHS Grampian premises, whether patients, staff or visitors, by promoting enjoyment of, and when possible, participation in, high quality artistic activity and the provision of a sympathetic and pleasing visual environment.

Sally adds: I wanted to join the board in order to champion the need for arts and wellbeing in Scotland. My primary interest is to develop links between health and arts sector lead organisations and lobby for adequate resourcing for arts and wellbeing activity across Scotland. I would be keen to see the sector more recognised at government level. Alongside my role as a ACHWS board member I am also a steering group member of Scottish Social Prescribing Network.

Vanessa Paynton, Executive Director, Art in HealthcareArt in Healthcare is a charity working across Scotland to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities by providing opportunities to experience and engage with high quality visual art, artists and creativity, particularly within community, health and social care settings.

Vanessa explains: ‘We have seen, over the organisation’s history, that the arts can help to address health inequalities and we continue to strive to widen access to creative activity. There is good evidence to show that the arts can support both the mental and physical health of individuals, from supporting self-management of conditions at home to aiding recovery in hospital or providing comfort in a palliative setting.’

Vanessa adds: ‘There is broad agreement around the value of the arts to support health and wellbeing. I wanted to get involved as I believe ACHWS has an important role to play in Scotland, and beyond, helping to champion work and to broaden the reach of this impactful sector.’

If you are interested in getting more involved in the ACHWS working group or board, please get in touch with Nancy Riach nancy@achws.org


Dundee Celebrates 20 Years of Tackling Health Inequalities Through a Community-Led Approach

A CELEBRATION marking 20 years of bringing together local people with professionals to support health and wellbeing has been held in Dundee. The Dundee Community Health team led discussions and workshops focused on future developments and strengthening community voices in decision-making.

Speaking at the event, council leader John Alexander said: “Tackling health inequalities is one of the city’s key priorities with a strong commitment to improving health and narrowing the health gap over the next 10 years featuring prominently in the city and council plans.

“We know that people in our more disadvantaged communities face barriers to good health and wellbeing and that income, housing, the environment, green space, education, quality of life and social relationships play an important part in keeping people healthy and well. Unfortunately, some people through no fault of their own will struggle with their health and wellbeing and may have limited control or influence to change their life circumstances.

“That is where the Community Health team and its predecessors have shown that people in Dundee are committed to being part of the solution, and when they are given positive opportunities and support, they have taken action and made the most of the resources at their disposal.”

Planning and delivery of the event was taken on by local people and by members of the Community Health Advisory Forum, a new platform for supporting individuals to influence health-related decisions. As well as professionals in the field, the event heard from Dundee residents who have benefited from support over the years, including healthy eating on a budget, recovery groups, cooking courses, healthy lifestyle groups, walking groups, gardening groups and support to manage stress and improve mental health.

The Dundee Community Health team aims to provides training to community groups and service providers on poverty sensitive practice, health inequalities, mental health and stigma; leadership for local health and wellbeing networks; and supports local people to recognise the wider influences on health through accredited Health Issues in the Community Courses which equips them to be involved in decision-making and collective action in their communities.

Watch the video celebrating 20 years at CHT 20yrs – YouTube

Source: Dundee City Council/News

Welcome to the new ACHWS Development Coordinator


ACHWS is looking to achieve the ambitions set out in our strategic plan, but in order to do that we needed someone to work with the Board of Trustees to develop scope and strengthen the impact of the network. We sourced funding and outlined a brief for a Development Coordinator and are delighted to announce the appointment of Nancy Riach who joined the team in June. You can contact her on nancy@achws.org

Nancy will be the day-to-day contact for ACHWS and will be supporting the board to activate the ambition strategic plan including arranging an online and in person events programme, build the network, sharing information, research, best practice and case studies through our social media and our e-bulletin as well as creating opportunities for discussion and collaboration and collating feedback to inform and advise government.

Nancy joins us with spent over 30 years working in and around the arts and culture sector and has a diverse range of knowledge and experience. She has held various senior roles specifically focused on communications, stakeholder management, business planning, event management and development. Nancy has a broad range of experience from grassroots community projects to two of Scotland’s National Performing Companies and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

You can contact Nancy to say hello, let her know about projects you are working on, ways we can support you, events or topics you are interested in or anything else you want to talk to us about.

Grampian Hospital Arts Trust | New Artist Commissions

GHAT are looking for 2 artists to help us develop a sustainable model for arts and well-being in rural areas.

Co-create – Designed with the community it serves.

There are 2 commissions available to develop a sustainable arts and well-being model in rural areas. Co-Create is a project to support well-being for people within Huntly and the surrounding area through creative activity. This six-month project is to research and develop a sustainable arts and wellbeing model in rural areas which will result in access to arts activity for many years to come.

Both artists will work out of Jubilee Hospital, Huntly. We are looking for an artists with a research-based practice, and one with a socially engaged/participatory practice to work collaboratively on this project.

For more information click on the link: https://bit.ly/CoCreateOpportunities

Deadline – 1st December

Inequality | Power | Sustainability – The Culture Health and Wellbeing International Conference 2021

conference logo

conference logoCulture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference (CHW21), 21-23 June 2021 

Inequality | Power | Sustainability


Drawing on over 200 submissions from 20 countries, there will be 100+ live sessions and 10 country panels from around the world. CHW21 will showcase inspiring arts and health work from across the globe and encourage lively debates informed by different perspectives spanning policy, research, practice, lived experience and co-production.


Based on three key themes – Inequality | Power | Sustainability, the digital programme will provide a space for exploring individual and collective experiences and articulating a vision for the future. Designed to engage audiences from around the world with key notes in the morning, afternoon and evening and interactive sessions that take into account different time zones for presenters and audiences, tickets offer full access to the 3-day live programme, as well as access to recordings of sessions on demand between 21st-25th June.


  • Early Bird Tickets – £150 (on sale until 7th May)
  • Regular Tickets – £200 (on sale from 8th May – 7th June)


Find out more including how tickets can be shared, and book a ticket- www.ahsw.org.uk/event/chw21/

“Every child is an artist”, the Role of Culture in the Health & Wellbeing of Young People

image of young people enjoying workshop

An Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland (ACHWS) event discussing the role of the arts in improving the wellbeing of children and young people. This was an online event, 2 – 4pm on Wednesday 9th June 2021. 

image of young people enjoying workshop

Following on from the ACHWS event on the arts and older people, “With Age, Art and Life Become One“, this event focused on the role of arts, and culture on the health and wellbeing of children and young people. Both events had over 90 registered attendees and a waiting list for each.

Bringing together a range of arts and health practitioners, this event discussed the impact and issues but also look forward to the role the arts can play in recovering and reshaping the future. The impact on the mental health of children and young people has been huge and the full extent of this is still unknown.

What creative ways can we work together to improve health and mental wellbeing of young people in Scotland?


Some of the presentations have been documented here.

“With Age, Art and Life Become One”, the role of culture in the health & wellbeing of older people.

image of an older person enjoying music

This was an online event that took place 2 – 4pm, on Wednesday 19th May 2021. This was an Arts Culture Health and Wellbeing Scotland event. image of an older person enjoying music

With a title inspired by a quotation from Georges Braque, at this event we explored the role arts and culture play in the health, wellbeing and care of older people whether they live independently or in residential/nursing care and for those who are in hospital.

Older people’s lives have been significantly affected by Covid-19, not least the distressing levels of social isolation and loneliness very many have endured for over 12 months. The removal of much appreciated activities, human contact and services have taken their toll physically, mentally and spiritually on our older population.

How have arts and culture interventions made a difference during these difficult days, what challenges have been faced, and how can the lessons learned help shape the recovery and renewal of services for the future?

What can the arts, culture and care sectors share and learn from one another about compassionate, person-centred and enabling care?

What do we mean by art and life becoming one with age?


Claire Stevens, Chief Executive, Voluntary Health Scotland
Robbie McGhee, Chair of Arts, Culture, Health and Wellbeing Scotland and Associate Director, Art in Hospital
Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive, Scottish Care
Anne Gallacher, Director, Luminate Scotland
Barbara McEwan-Gulliver, Artistic Director, Art in Hospital
Joe Traynor, Head of Museums Development, Museums Galleries Scotland
Leesa Mackintosh, Community Link Worker & Alison Leitch, Community Link Worker, Area Lead, North Edinburgh, NHS Lothians

Both this and its partner event “Every child is an artist”: The Role of Culture in the Health & Wellbeing of Young People had over 90 registered attendees and a waiting list for each event.


Responding to covid-19: Sharing stories from creative professionals across the UK

Scottish Ballet | New dance classes for people living with Multiple Sclerosis