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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
Better Together

A creative wellbeing project to support the mental health of local female service users has been launched as part of the BEDLAM Arts and Mental Health Festival

Published: 22/03/2023

BEDLAM is a Birmingham-based festival that celebrates the arts and supports the mental health and wellbeing of countless service users each and every year. The project is run by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Sampad Arts and Red Earth Collective.

Amelia Hawk is a Birmingham-based visual artist whose work explores experiences and conversation as a way to make and share artwork. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at Interkulturelet Museum in Oslo, Luda in St Petersburg, Floodlight Foundation in Delhi and National Gallery in Prague.

Amelia was selected as the Lead Artist to deliver weekly creative Nature and Healing workshops with a group of local women, who have been referred to the project via NHS mental health services. The project will culminate in an exhibition at the MAC, opening this spring.

Amelia said: “I’ve seen through lived experience of caring for my mother how important relaxed, informal, non-therapy spaces are when experiencing mental health difficulties or social isolation – alongside having access to therapy, which is of course also vital.

“The simple act of turning up, sharing space, and being together is a lot bigger and more impactful than many of us realise. I’m excited to see what the space we are making together will hold, what we will make and how we will support each other's creative journey.”

The participants describe it as a low-pressure space where they feel welcome, understood, and somewhere that they don’t have to pretend.

One participant said: “The project has made a massive difference to my mental health. Before I started, I was literally a hermit. I barely left my house. I’ve found that meeting the wonderful ladies of the group has given me confidence to come out of myself.”

Now in its 12th year, BEDLAM 2023 sees a shift in focus from educating and entertaining audiences to longer-term engagement with people with lived experience of mental health.

Creative work from the project will be shared at an exhibition at MAC's community gallery 29 April-18 June 2023, and there will be an all-day symposium and showcase event 16 May.

For more information, contact MAC’s Community Engagement Producer, Emily Churchill Zaraa, on Emily.Churchillzaraa@MACBirmingham.co.uk.