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Creative project supporting the mental well-being of NHS staff to continue

The Sharing HOPE team at the ceremony

A Swansea Bay initiative which uses art to help health staff tackle mental health, well-being and trauma has been granted more funding to carry on.

Sharing HOPE works alongside existing services to support NHS staff who may have concerns or be struggling with various issues.

It offers a wide range of arts-based events to staff in work and community settings, including textile groups and beach sculpture days.

The service, a collaboration between Swansea Bay’s Quality Improvement and Arts and Heritage teams, offers a safe space for staff to express themselves and listen to their colleagues’ views.

Pictured: Head of quality and safety Angharad Higgins, artist Menna Buss, Jayne Whitney, Johan Skre and artist Virginia Hearth.

It has been made possible through joint funding from the Arts Council of Wales and The Baring Foundation, an independent grant-giving foundation improving the quality of life of people facing disadvantage and discrimination.

Now, the service has received additional funding to enable it to continue supporting staff for another year.

Jayne Whitney, the health board’s quality lead for suicide and self-harm prevention, said: “Since the project launched around two years ago, we have hosted 107 events for staff and had 881 staff engage with them.

“The feedback we’ve received has been incredible and quite humbling.

“People have found it really beneficial in terms of using art as a creative way of dealing with what they were going through.

“It’s an opportunity to put their concentration into something other than what their day-to-day job involves.

“Staff have said they appreciate having some time out to reflect.”

The service can be accessed in three different ways.

It can be staged to a certain service or department that has struggled with the experiences it had gone through in hugely challenging situations.

Staff can also access an open group, which delivers activities such as textile classes within health board sites.

It also offers one-to-one support and onward referrals to other support if appropriate.

Johan Skre, lead for the arts and heritage team, said: “The service launched off the back of research which showed using the arts to improve people’s mental health is really worthwhile.

“We’ve got three artists who work with us. They use their art to empower people.

“As a team we look at the feedback from staff and use it to guide us on future engagements.

“The additional funding will help us to build on what we’ve learned and deliver it as well as we can.”

Jayne on stage receiving an award

The service has already received a number of accolades, including being nominated for staff wellbeing initiative of the year at the HSJ Patient Safety Awards in Manchester.

The team also won the Improving Lives through Creativity award at the health board’s Living Our Values Awards, which celebrates staff who have gone above and beyond in delivering excellent care and services over the past year.

Jayne has experienced first-hand how it has been of benefit to staff.

“I went along to one of the sessions and experienced it myself,” she said.

“The level of conversation surprised me and we learned about what people in that room had been through.

“I was blown away by some of their stories and thought ‘where else would staff have the opportunity to share these stories?’.

“That was a really reflective opportunity to be able to experience the benefits first-hand.”

Pictured: Jayne accepting the LOV Award for Improving Lives Through Creativity.

It is hoped that the service can continue to support people’s mental well-being and create new opportunities to do so.

Jayne added: “Sharing HOPE brings a different layer of opportunity for people to seek out well-being support.

“Our main aim is for it to become embedded within our health board, so if someone gets referred for well-being support they get offered this as part of a triage into that service.

“We would like to support staff coming back from long-term sickness by allowing them to transition back to work by using art as a way of processing what they’ve been through.

“We would also like to look at creating an online group too.

“We are constantly listening and learning and looking at different opportunities to reach people.”

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