the arts club that makes you feel better – and you don’t even have to take part

Free creative workshops which aim to give people who feel lonely or low a boost have been launched in Bishop Auckland.

County Durham-based housing association believe housing awarded £9360 to Northern Heartlands CIC to run NOW Social Prescribing sessions in the town’s Four Clocks Centre, on Newgate Street.

believe housing providing funding from its large revenue community grant scheme to start the initiative in Bishop Auckland, after it was successfully delivered in Crook and Teesdale last year.

Every week a mental health trained support worker and a commissioned artist lead a two-hour session and people can get involved as much, or as little, as they want.

Participants will help choose the activities, which could include photography, glasswork, creative writing, pottery workshops, film making and music. Each artist will deliver four to six sessions.

Anna Collins, Project Development Manager at Northern Heartlands, said: “People can come and learn from the artists, or they can just watch and enjoy the social element of the sessions.

“We really want more people to come along, especially those who are feeling socially isolated and lonely or have mental health issues.

“People really benefit from creative activity, it raises confidence and offers some respite from life’s challenges. To learn and appreciate what goes into making something, to take pride in creating something and to have new experiences can really make people feel good.

“We hope anyone interested comes along, we’ve tried to make the sessions as accessible as possible, you don’t need experience and we can support those who feel nervous or need help with travel arrangements.”

The sessions are free to attend and refreshments and materials are provided.

Northern Heartlands works with Social Prescribing Link Workers, based in GP surgeries in the Bishop Auckland area, who will refer patients to the project but it is also open to the public and believe housing customers.

Joanne Norman, a Community Investment Coordinator at believe housing, said: “NOW Social Prescribing has a proven track record of boosting people’s overall wellbeing, when it was delivered in Crook and Teesdale, and we’re thrilled to provide funding to bring it to Bishop Auckland.

“We offer lots of support to believe housing customers directly, including job support and debt advice, and by funding initiatives like this we hope to help people enjoy life outside their front door.

“I’d encourage our own customers to give it a try, if they feel a bit of company and the chance to try something creative and artistic would do them good. I’ve been along and know the sessions are warm and welcoming, and everyone there is supportive of one another.”

NOW Social Prescribing creative sessions are held at The Four Clocks Centre, Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, on Thursdays, from 12.30pm to 2.30pm.

For information or to attend speak to your Social Prescribing Link Worker, call 01833-200220, email or simply drop in.