So far, it has identified hundreds of creative resources and activity programmes designed to support people during lockdown – both on and offline. Most are targeting isolation and mild-to-moderate mental health issues. Increases in wellbeing seem linked with the extent to which participants feel connected to other people. We’re also creating an online community of practice, as opportunities for making, sharing and connecting are the key to success. The study is proving the value of developing ‘creative health’ partnerships that harness the collective power of arts, creativity, nature and community assets, in collaboration with health, social care and voluntary third sector services. Our plan is to synthesise the evidence and offer best practices to feed into strategic planning on local and international levels.
Another vital step was the launch in March of the National Centre for Creative Health – an organisation that aims to make creative approaches a core part of health and care provision, while providing important strategic links between research, policy and practice. It will be working in partnership with UCL to support the world’s first Masters in Arts and Sciences (MASc) in Creative Health, starting in September 2021. It’s a sign of things to come. Giving people more choice about their care, as well as ways to connect with others through the arts, is profoundly empowering and will help drive health equity in the UK and beyond.