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Curtain rises on our partnership with Birmingham Rep and the Hearth Centre

May 9, 2011

All the world could be a stage for our service users, after Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust signed an agreement with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and The Hearth Centre to use drama to promote mental wellbeing.

The three partners all signed an agreement on Friday (May 6, 2011) which will see them work together to share their skills, expertise and resources to encourage service users to engage in arts-based activities and to help reduce the public stigma around mental health.

 Sue Turner, the trust’s chief executive, joined Stuart Rogers, executive director of The REP – as it is affectionately known– and Polly Wright, artistic director of The Hearth Centre, at The REP’s rehearsal rooms in the Jewellery Quarter.

Sue Turner, chief executive of BSMHFT, Stuart Rodgers, executive director of The REP, and Polly Wright, artistic director of the Hearth Centre, sign a partnership arrangement at The REP’s rehearsal rooms.
Sue Turner, chief executive of BSMHFT, Stuart Rodgers, executive director of The REP, and Polly Wright, artistic director of the Hearth Centre, sign a partnership arrangement at The REP's rehearsal rooms.

The pledges contained within this innovative partnership include:

  • Improving access to drama and theatre for service users, carers and staff – including training opportunities and attending performances;
  • Showcasing work created by service users, and staging performances within some of the trust’s sites;
  • Working with theatre students at Birmingham School of Acting to increase their awareness of mental health issues and services; and
  • Involving members of The REP’s creative and learning teams in projects with service users.

Sue said: “I am delighted that our trust has entered into a partnership with the Birmingham Rep and The Hearth Centre to use drama and theatre to promote emotional well being, mental health and the reduction of stigma.

“The importance of the performing arts and creative arts in mental health recovery has long been recognised and our partnership will share our skills, expertise and resources to develop programmes of work which will increase access to drama and theatre by our service users and their carers.”

Steve Ball, associate director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and lead partner for this project, said: “It is widely acknowledged that drama and theatre can play an important part in promoting emotional wellbeing and mental health.

“This innovative partnership between The REP, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and the Hearth Centre will enable to us to deliver high quality drama to sections of our community that are not always able to access theatre provision.”

Polly Wright, artistic director of the Hearth Centre, added: “This partnership will benefit service users by providing professional expertise to help service users to develop their skills in playwriting and performance.

“Service users will also benefit through the production of professional plays by Hearth and The REP, which will be used to raise awareness and reduce stigma about mental health issues in the community and the general public.”

For more information on the Hearth Centre, visit http://www.thehearthcentre.org.uk/