Room for Art- Keeping participants creative and well in their homes during Covid 19

Room for Art is Art in Healthcare’s social prescribing project, providing visual arts workshops facilitated by professional artists. Our participants are referred by GPs, OTs, community link workers, social care agencies, and through self-referral.

Our participants are people who were already very vulnerable prior to the COVID 19 crisis. They suffer from mental health issues (including depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts), long-term health conditions, are socially isolated and experience loneliness. Many of our participants have caring responsibilities and are experiencing challenging living/ housing conditions. They include people with disabilities and people who are financially vulnerable.

Our community partners include; Whale Arts, Wester Hailes Health Agency, North Edinburgh Arts, Piershill Library, ELREC, Redhall Walled Garden (SAMH), Vocal and Streetwork.

When our workshops were suspended in mid-March, we adapted to make sure we could offer continued support to our participants. We currently engage with 70+ participants who usually meet at community venues. Our role has been to help keep people well through connection and creativity, often we are the only service they engage with.

“Since lockdown the staff have worked hard to keep us connected…This has had a big impact on my mental health… enabling me to reconnect to things I find valuable” Participant

We set up a new project called ‘Room for Art at home’ and completely changed our way of working which has included:

  • Regular posted packages with high quality art materials (sponsored by Greatart and Edinburgh Art Shop), cards and art activity sheets.
  • A strong social media presence including a Facebook Group and regular interactive workshops.
  • Weekly Zoom workshops exploring different techniques and materials – a chance to come together and share.
  • Resources including video demonstrations, artist inspirations and activity cards with a focus on surroundings and materials found at home.
  • Opportunities to take part in including participant instigated, online exhibition ‘Living in 2020’, and a colour and doodle book designed by participants and delivered to Streetwork to support those affected by homelessness.
450+ art material packs 
200+ attendances 
at 30 Zoom workshops
50+ digital 
resources produced

Our poster will explore the impact of arts and creativity to support mental health in time of crisis and the importance of making participants feel valued and part of a community.

“I’d had a bad morning…and the Zoom class really helped. It was good to focus on simple creative activities and feel connected to and able to interact with people…I went on to have a much better second half of the day..” Room for Art Participant

For some participants, this year has brought them to crisis point and they have had difficulty in self managing their health. For some that are quite isolated already, life has not been very different and for others, lockdown brought some relief to their anxiety. Covid 19 has given us the opportunity to learn more about the lives of those we work with and work in a way we have been looking to develop for years. It opens up the project to so many other people that are unable to attend art workshops in person.

We will look at what we have learnt working in this way and what we have planned for the future.

Find out more:

Online exhibition:

Facebook – @ROOMFORARTEdinburgh   Instagram –

Iona McCann is the Outreach Manager at Art in Healthcare

View Art in Healthcare poster for the VHS Annual Poster Competition here.

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