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Young people in Lowestoft unveil art project

A mural depicting some of Lowestoft’s most recognisable landmarks, which has been designed and painted by young people facing issues with mental ill health, was officially unveiled on Thursday, 4 February.

The beach scene has been created at Boston Lodge, Boston Road, Lowestoft, by young people who have received services from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). It comes as a result a year-long therapeutic partnership between NSFT, the Ormiston Families charity, which manages the community centre, and Mind.

The project has seen a group of 14 to 25-year-olds work together to design and paint a mural on a dated salmon pink wall at the centre, in turn refurbishing a valuable local facility while developing new skills and confidence.

The initiative was driven by Occupational Therapists Claire Moran and Catherine Kilbey, who work with NSFT’s Youth Service and were keen to find an innovative way to promote teamwork, boost confidence and social skills while making a difference to the community.

After brainstorming ideas and researching the town’s history, the young people created the design – which includes landmark’s such as Lowestoft’s lighthouse and wind turbine – before securing all of the paint they would need, kindly donated by Dulux. Group members then met up every week over the past year to create the final piece, which stretches across the centre’s back wall.

Claire said: “We are absolutely delighted that this innovative project has made such a difference to the young people, who all worked so hard to create this mural. Not only has their confidence increased, but they have also acquired new social and practical skills, and feel a real sense of accomplishment with the finished piece. Project members have engaged and participated at every level, from sourcing inspiration, to designing the mural and creating the final piece. The level of commitment shown by group members has been outstanding.

“From an occupational therapy perspective, this is a meaningful activity for the young people, and one which has made a positive difference to the community centre and the individuals involved. The response from people using Boston Lodge has been really positive and everyone loves the mural. It’s really nice for the young people to feel they have contributed to that.

“When we all first met, a lot of the young people were struggling with confidence and engaging with social activities. It’s been fantastic to see that change as the project has progressed and their confidence has grown; a couple of members have now left the service which is great news.

“It’s been really positive for these young people to take part in something with purpose, while supporting one another through the process. We know that the evidence base supporting creative therapies in mental health is extensive, and so it has been wonderful to put this into practice with this project, and see excellent outcomes with the young people involved. The project has been such a success that we are now hoping to do further arts initiatives in the future.”

One of the young people who took part in the project said: “The group is not only a way to get some good done to an environment, but also a way for people to meet, get to know each other, make friends, develop skills, build in confidence and to feel a sense of pride and achievement.”

A second young person said: “I have found the project to be extremely rewarding. It has helped me to grow in confidence and feel like a part of something. I have something to look forward to every week. My social skills have progressed and I feel much more comfortable in groups of people and feel more confident to be able to pass my ideas on.”

Sharon Tejada-Jimenez, service manager at Boston Lodge for Ormiston Families, said: “Every Wednesday evening, eight to 10 young people involved with the NSFT, Mind and Ormiston Families would arrive to add to the mural, and gradually it began to take shape.

“It has been so rewarding to see the positive progress of each and every person involved in the project. Now we would like to invite the people of Lowestoft and the surrounding area to come and see their fantastic work.”

Some of the team have also blogged about the project. To find out more please click here.​