A digital mental health project for schools and children, created by a theatre, drama and creative learning company and a creative agency has been recognised at the region’s annual culture awards.

Prudhoe based Mortal Fools, and Ouseburn based digital branding and design agency Vida Creative have received the Best Arts and Business Partnership award, at The Journal’s Culture Awards.

The award recognises their work together on the digital programme Melva, which follows the story of one girl’s adventure to find out what she’s really capable of. To date the digital adaptation has benefitted approx. 1000 children.

Melva started life as a theatre show and school’s package, centring around helping children aged 7-11 explore and understand their emotions, supporting their well-being and building resilience.

The show was originally designed in response to the 2017 green paper ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision’. After a sold out North East tour, seeing its positive impact and then the subsequent negative effect of the pandemic on children’s mental health, Mortal Fools were determined to reimagine and further develop Melva, so it could continue to help children.

The Mortal Fools team reached out to Vida Creative, who through the provision of illustration, animation and development, supported the creation of Melva Digital; a ready-made programme consisting of Melva the feature film, classroom resources, lesson plans and a whole new Melva story, Melva Mapletree and the Quest for Barnabas Boggle; an interactive storytelling game.

Kiz Crosbie, CEO at Mortal Fools, said: “We are over the moon to win this award which recognises what can be achieved through dynamic, innovative and purpose-driven partnerships.

“Our collaboration with Vida Creative not only provided work for many brilliant freelance artists during the pandemic, but has resulted in the creation of a fun, engaging and impactful creative digital programme to support children’s mental health at a very timely moment. We’re excited to make this available to schools and groups across the UK from this Autumn.”

Ellen Hedley co-founder of Vida Creative added, “We’re thrilled that our collaboration has won an award. The project was an amazing opportunity for Vida to work on a creative and technically challenging project with a charity who were determined to continue the conversation around mental health and changing lives for the better.

“Through working together, we’ve learnt a lot about approaching projects in different ways to convey important messages and educate an audience. We’re really looking forward to what the future holds for Melva and continuing our work with Mortal Fools.”

Over on the Melva website at www.melva.org.uk schools and community groups are able to register their interest in purchasing the Melva Digital programme and the game, Melva Mapletree and the Quest for Barnabas Boggle is available to families to purchase.

Melva Digital was funded by Mortal Fools, Arts Council England, Public Health Northumberland, Northumberland County Council and Gateshead Council.

For more information about Mortal Fools and their work with children and young people visit: www.mortalfools.org.uk. For more information on Vida Creative, visit: www.vidacreative.co.uk