Art is not all about pretty things: it really does save lives.

I want to share with you my passion for visual arts and how it is making a difference in people’s lives across various locations in North Somerset. Create Together is dedicated to recognising loneliness and helping people to build new friendships with others in their community through shared creative activities.

It is a mistake to think that loneliness is something only experienced by older people. I have found that it is a common emotion amongst participants of all ages and from all walks of life. Loneliness correlates strongly with other problems, including poor mental health and poor physical health and this is apparent across all the groups I facilitate. The feedback given by one participant was typical of some of the responses I see, when people discover the healing power of self-expression in a safe, caring environment.

“Being part of create together saved my life. Life is tough and I have been struggling to the point that I felt my life had no purpose. I felt so alone and in a dark place. I saw a poster at the Dr’s surgery for Create Together and found the courage to text a message. I had always enjoyed doing arty stuff and thought it may help me. Helen made me feel welcome and introduced me to the group but also spent time getting to know me too. Helen was respectful and there were weeks when I preferred to watch from the side-lines, and this was always ok. I soon started to feel I belonged to the group and felt valued. When the course started to come to an end I started to panic, as this had been my lifeline. However, the group has continued to meet weekly and I have started to make new friends and always look forward to the group“. Gill B, Create Together participant 2019

I recently attended “ASIST Suicide Prevention” and Mental Health First Aid” training, which have given me more confidence and knowledge in recognising the signs when people are struggling. It has also taught me the importance of taking action rather than doing nothing.

Gills’s experience shows the profound changes that came about through the process of making art. And, while there’s no denying that the product is often pretty, that really isn’t what it’s all about.

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