New funding awarded for local museums to support people experiencing mental ill health.
Rare and intriguing objects and works of art in four Suffolk museums will be helping to inspire more local people to enjoy exploring heritage in new and creative ways, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund. A grant of £39,000 to the Association for Suffolk Museums together with £5,000 from Suffolk County Council has given the go-ahead for a project to involve small groups of people who are managing mental ill health to research museum collections in Suffolk and make their own creative response to the material with the support of an artist over the next year. The project is supported by staff within the Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust: Alison Armstrong, Director of Operations Suffolk, said:"We are excited to be part of an innovative approach to creating opportunities for people to support and improve mental wellbeing. There are many ways in which people manage and recover mental health difficulty. "Energising potential is an extremely important part of recovery and working creatively can be a meaningful way of achieving this. The museum settings offer inspiring and inclusive environments for people from all parts of the Suffolk community to work together which helps to challenge stigmatisation."
Over the next year a series of courses will be run at Gainsborough's House in Sudbury, Ipswich Museum, Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds and the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket. Each course will have a balance of heritage learning, creative expression and well-being outcomes. Although each museum is focusing on different collections, they all show how different people in the past position themselves in society and are perceived by others. The courses are designed to help participants reconnect with their local community and heritage after a period of mental ill health and the whole project will encourage participants to develop their confidence, independence and resilience. Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England said, "This innovative project brings together an exciting partnership and is a great illustration of the benefits that Suffolk's wonderful and varied museum collections bring to the lives of individuals and communities. It demonstrates how heritage contributes to happiness and well-being".
The courses will be the focus of other related work, including training for staff and volunteers as well as to celebrate the achievements of participants. In addition, testimony and coursework will contribute to a professionally produced folder of booklets to share the project's learning and achievements at a number of public events at the end of the project.
Expressing her delight at the Heritage Lottery Fund grant, Suffolk County Councillor Rebecca Hopfensperger said,
"This will be a wonderful way of supporting people back into the community, giving them a sense of their own value and abilities. Collections in our diverse Suffolk museums inspire us all."
The project is led by the Association for Suffolk Museums working in partnership with the Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and four museums, Gainsborough's House in Sudbury, Ipswich Museum, Moyse's Hall in Bury St Edmunds, and the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket.
Image © Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service. A rare 250 year old Hawaiian feather cloak from Ipswich Museum's collections is just one of the fascinating objects that Creative Heritage in Mind will investigate.