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Creative Families

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Creative Families is an innovative early-intervention arts programme for parents experiencing mental health difficulties and their children aged under-five in Southwark.

About the project

It is funded by Guys and St Thomas’s Charitable Trust as part of their arts and heritage funding of projects that bring together clinicians, academics, artists and arts organisations. The project contributes to the Trusts strategic development areas of:

  • Arts engagement to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people
  • Artists as catalysts for innovation.  

The evaluation of the Creative Families project takes a two pronged approach. The project is evaluated through an innovative partnership between the Department of Health & Population at The Institute of Psychiatry, led by Megan Ellis, Deputy Director of the Centre for Parent and Child Support, and Goldsmiths, University of London, led by Dr Alison Rooke, Co Director of the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths working with Imogen Slater and Laura Cuch.

Project partners

The project partners are SLAM Parental Mental Health Team (PMHT), South London Gallery (SLG) and two local childrens centres. Creative Families is a two-year early intervention initiative and is comprised of six, ten-week interlinked artist-led workshop programmes for parents and their children.

Project goals

The project addresses Guys & St Thomas’ Charity’s strategic priority “to help improve the health of the local population” and supports the Charity’s particular interest in projects with benefits for mental wellbeing which include an arts component. The project’s aims meet the Charity’s’ particular concern for improving the involvement of individuals in their own health and improving the healthy development of children, and are being delivered in Southwark, which is one of the Charity’s geographic areas of focus. These objectives are clearly reflected in the projects aims (below).

Increasing the understanding and developing the working relationships between the partnersAs well as achieving these aims through the projects impact upon participants, the project is a pilot in this kind of collaboration and as such it also aims to establish an innovative transferable model for working with vulnerable families. 

As a pilot it sets out to develop and test a new way of working that involves partnership between artists, an arts organisation, adult mental health services and children’s centres. This therefore places exploration, collaboration and learning at the core of this project. As a result the project is tasked with some additional aims beyond delivery which include developing, testing and honing a model which if seen to be efficacious can be used and adapted beyond the current project.

Final report

Review the Creative Families Final Report (PDF download).