Friday 15th April 2016
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Spring 2016
Two hospices in Hertfordshire are providing creative therapy through an innovative new art bag project.
Funded by Macmillan, the art bag project is a joint initiative between the Spring Centre at The Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted and the Starlight Centre at Peace Hospice Care in Watford. The aim is to boost the well-being of people who are living with a life-limiting illness. The free bags include an art activity and all the materials needed to create a completed artwork. This year’s activity is a weaving loom.
Annalie Ashwell and Hannah Cridford, Macmillan Wellbeing and Therapeutic Coordinators, say they developed the project to provide participants with an opportunity to ‘create, contemplate and connect’. Annalie explains: ‘The use of art has proven therapeutic benefits to patients. We have created our hospice art bags to give individuals a simple, creative activity that encourages them to focus on doing something “in the moment”, fostering enjoyment and relaxation, boosting morale and promoting well-being. It can be done individually, perhaps at home, or with others in a group at the Starlight or Spring Centre or when visiting the hospice inpatient units.’
The art bags have had a huge uptake, with more than 400 distributed since last October. People can collect the bags while visiting the hospices, or pick them up at community projects and groups. This means art bags still reach those who may feel isolated or struggle to attend groups at the hospice.
Artists can return their creations to the Spring or Starlight Centres or to members of their healthcare team. The looms will eventually be collated to form a large community art installation at Watford Museum in May and June 2016. The exhibition will provide a platform to raise awareness of the creative therapies in hospice care and will visually represent the hospice community.
Hannah explains: ‘The art bags are a way of bringing a flavour of some of the activities we offer at the Spring and Starlight Centres out into our community. Hospices are not just here for controlling physical symptoms. They are also all about helping patients and carers emotionally and practically, building resilience and helping them to live more positively alongside their illness.
‘We hope our innovative art bags will encourage more people to find out about the range of creative workshops, courses and activities our well-being and therapeutic service has to offer.’
To find out more about the hospices’ art bag project, please contact Annalie or Hannah.