Arts on Prescription (AoP) is a free service set up in June 2019 to reduce loneliness and isolation for those who face challenges accessing activities in the community – including long term health issues, being a carer, lack of confidence or mental health issues.
Over that time, AoP has been successful in introducing a wide variety of creative activities in a safe, accessible environment. It’s ironic that nine months later, the population at large is now experiencing problems previously confined to a minority.
Still life arrangement
During the current pandemic, AoP has had to rethink its way of working and in the process has been able to widen its target audience to anyone who wishes to join in. Tara Reddy, the driving force behind AoP, says of the current situation: “The way people work has changed dramatically over night, for some it has made people slow down, be more empathic to other people’s needs. It’s critical to ensure that people keep well, stay connected and be creative.”
Seeing the crisis coming, she set up a dedicated Facebook AoP members page to ensure the work could continue, supporting people to connect and stay creative for wellbeing.
Each week a different topic is posted for people to draw, photograph, collage, write about or explore using any art form they choose and then post on the AoP Members Facebook Page.
Alongside promoting art activities, the Facebook page signposts people to opportunities in the wider community and services available to support people’s wellbeing such as: Hastings Emergency Action Response Team, Extinction Rebellion Hastings, Hope for the Homeless, HVA Phone Line, Next Door and Isolation Station – all run by volunteers and set up to respond to the pandemic.
A painting in still life
And what about the workshops that used to be run at the Warrior Square surgery? Stay Connected and Be Creative art and wellbeing sessions are now carried out ‘in the ZOOM room’ every Friday at 10am for two hours.
This provides opportunity for AoP members to engage with each other and focus on participating in an art activity – each week something different: still life drawing, creative writing, dance and lots more.
On Mondays at 10am they are in the ZOOM Room with singing sessions facilitated by Jenny Miller of Barefoot Opera. On Tuesdays at 11am there’s a mindfulness and wellbeing session delivered by Lucy Pappas.
Tara has a full-time job with One You, East Sussex but is now working from home.