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Coventry and Warwickshire Creative Health Alliance has today (Tuesday 19 May) confirmed grant awards totalling £77,000 to eight local organisations to support work to reduce isolation in the light of the Covid 19 pandemic.

The announcement is timed to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs 18-24 May.

Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council have got together with NHS and arts organisations to form the Alliance, which is the body behind the new grants scheme, announced last month.

The Alliance invited bids from arts bodies large and small, and individual artists with ideas for beating loneliness and social isolation and boosting wellbeing, at this difficult time.

The fund allocates individual grants up to around £10,000, and organisers were looking for a range of ideas to reach out to people through the current crisis and beyond.

Explained Emily van de Venter, Associate Director of Public Health in Warwickshire: “We put together this fund to encourage artists to be creative about how we could support people who may be particularly susceptible to the negative social and emotional impacts of this pandemic.

“We want to help make people smile and maybe to find a new hobby whilst isolated. We would encourage everyone to try something creative during this week to help look after your mental health.

“We were so pleased with the bids we received, and feel the range of activities here ensure we will be able to help bring colour and connection into the lives of hundreds of people who we know are badly affected by the current crisis. We believe this response shows the terrific value that the arts can offer for so many people in these difficult times.

“We hope to reach a range of different groups of people online and offline, including those who are isolated, face specific challenges such as living with dementia or autism, or are struggling with mental health difficulties.”

Councillor Les Caborn, portfolio holder for adult social care and health said: “Supporting our residents is a key priority for Warwickshire County Council and we’re delighted to be part of the Creative Health Alliance.

“Congratulations to all the organisations who have successfully secured their funding bids as a result of developing innovative ways to deliver their projects across Warwickshire and Coventry. All organisations are working to support people who may be particularly susceptible to negative social and emotional impacts of the pandemic.

“The projects will encourage people to take part in creative activities with an aim of providing a positive impact on the wellbeing of our residents and developing a sense of connection with others.”

The successful bids are:

Live and Local – Bespoke virtual performances delivered by a range of performers including a singer, band, poet, theatre company, and dance company – Twinning an artist with a local community to respond to their needs.

Arts Uplift CIC – Artists to work with four local groups of people who have particular needs. The participants and artists will interpret and document stories of how they are feeling now using a variety of creative arts.

Juliet Russell - Online singing programme which will last 12 weeks targeting people with ill health connected with breathlessness and lung health.

Escape Arts – Production of a six-page A4 booklet with engagement activities on friendship and hope including pandemic pals postcards and other creative activities. Submissions will feed into a graphic design vinyl art commission at Warwick and George Eliot hospitals

The Starfish Collaborative - Creative packs to be produced, two per month. Family online creative wellbeing sessions including writing, photography, visual arts. Young people's digital media project. Working with families with children with cancer.

Open Theatre - Develop seven non-verbal physical theatre short films with people with a learning disability, other conditions and their families - Online social activities and workshops and ‘how-to’ videos. Posted prompts and responses.

Armonico Consort - Virtual singing workshops across three music programmes for older people in care homes including dementia or in their own homes

Sundragon Pottery - Pottery packs including simple tools, materials, activities, leading to a final physical exhibition.

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