HERA
Healing Expressive and Restorative Arts Project

The HERA arts project at Brighton Health & Wellbeing Centre is a network of programmes using the arts and creative practices that enhance the quality of life, health and wellbeing of our patients, staff and community.

We provide access to high-quality arts activity to people. These activities are specifically designed to improve the functional health and wellbeing of participants whether they are suffering from physical or mental illness or a combination of both.

Our story so far

The programme was first started in 2013 at the inception of The Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre.

The inspiration came initially from the highly acclaimed Healing Arts programme run out of the Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx New York City.

Dr Laura Marshall-Andrews and a group of early pioneering artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers and singers devised five basic programmes across the performance, visual and literary arts.

After 2 years a very generous grant from the Arts Council enabled us to extend and run the HERA project from 2015 to May 2017.

Since then we have continued to run a skeleton version of the programme whilst applying for further funds.

During the course of the project we have engaged over 500 participants and have witnessed profound and lasting effects.

Among participants here was an almost universal improvement in Wellbeing Scores and functional capacity.

It was a great pleasure to visit the Centre and to meet patients as well as professionals. What a wonderful atmosphere! This is what the future needs to be like for the NHS more generally - welcoming, open, therapeutic, professional and holistic - and concerned with well-being as well as health.

Lord Nigel Crisp. Ex Chief executive of the NHS.

Narrative Workshops

These workshops are run on the model used at the University of Columbia and pioneered by Dr Rita Charon.

Initially these were devised and rolled out by Imogen Lynette Green and Barbara Doughty

Participants are asked to read a poem of piece of text together. This is then discussed as a group before writing for 5 minutes to a prompt.

This is referred to as 'writing in the shadow of a text'.

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During my long life I have had many training experiences related to employments and personal interests but none more compelling and stimulating than those recently provided by your centre. It was educationally delightful to be guided by Barbara Doherty and Imogen Lycett Green as they showed me how, for example, to get a better a perspective of my suddenly new life as a widower.

JK

Everyone felt at home and safe...We felt accepted and 'normal'. Thank you, thank you

ES

4 out of 4. I always enjoy the session! I liked having feedback on my work and it is all relevant to my recovery. I would always recommend the group to other people. I now tackle creative writing on my own. If I had not been coming to the group I would have been wandering the streets. It's different every week and I always get something out of it. Keep it up!

The [narrative workshop] was great. Story gives structure. It makes things manageable, approachable. It moves stuff, shifts the invisible - obliquely. It helps groups as much as it does individuals. I felt I got to know everyone - emotionally - better as a result.

Finding Your Compass


This unique project combines film and dance and is conducted around a theme by Rosaria Garcia and Fiona Geilinger.

These run in blocks of 6-8 weeks.

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Videos

Finding Your Compass participants commented:

It is fantastic to go to a well-being project which is rooted in creative expression. And a really important opportunity to experience a supportive community

I enjoyed the chance to explore personal story and emotional experience through movement (using our colour sketches as stimulus)

I loved it. Thank you so much. It's been wonderfully clarifying and enriching to share with people on this deep level. I feel like I have learned a lot about other people's experiences

The project helped me to have something to get up for that involved movement

The project increased my social network and sense of belonging

Art Psychotherapy


This programme is run continuously by Saskia Neary, an art psychotherapist with extensive experience.

She runs groups for toddlers and teenagers. Individual sessions are conducted initially which lead into group work when and if the participants are ready.

We have some places available for adults.

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I have been able to keep calm and not snap and burst as I know I will have time to talk about it in the group

Made me feel not alone and there are people who are feeling the same as me

I feel a lot more relaxed calm, not feeling as confused

I was able to keep my anxiety under control

I get angry a lot less often

Wellbeing Gallery


The Wellbeing Gallery exists in the spaces around the practice - the waiting areas in particular

We frequently have interactive installations which encourage patients to engage in discussions around central health and wellbeing issues.

Can you put some pictures form the gallery here - some of the walls and other exhibitions we have had - the wishes etc..

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Thank you so much, it's been amazing experience to be able to be on film and express myself.

Brilliant use of the space and very interesting framed artwork. Thank you

Loved the whole show! Best open house we've seen.

Very interesting variety of work, provokes much thought

Excellent selection of work. Thanks

Awesome to see such striking work. Love the selfie distorted image! Beautiful!

Wonderful flow-inspired work

Sing for Better Health


This wonderful group run by Udita and Teener meet every Saturday morning at 12.30. This is a drop in group - all welcome.

They sing a wide variety of songs - no singing skills necessary !

There is a huge amount of evidence that singing has a powerful effect on mental health, functional lung function and motor control.

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It lightens my mood completely! It is so heart-warming and life-affirming. I only felt half alive before coming! I've made friends – we meet away from the group. I also enjoyed performing – it gives me confidence (singing group)

Singing has made me more cheerful and confident. I have been discharged from speech therapy! (singing group)

I stopped singing as a child as I felt too self-conscious. This lack of confidence affected my daily life. I can speak out now, my speaking voice is much stronger. I spoke at a public meeting the other day, for the first time! (singing group)

When I sing, the pain is not so prevalent (singing group)