A day of fun activities, raffles and cake sales held at the housing association’s headquarters in Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, raised over £830 for the North Tyneside Art Studio based at the Linskill centre in North Shields.
The studio uses art and creative activities to help transform the lives of people with mental health problems, with studio staff and professional artists working with all levels of ability – from the complete beginner to the accomplished artist.
In the last year alone, NTAS has supported 120 people, with an average of 34 people a day using the facilities. In a safe, non-judgemental environment they can try their hand at a variety of disciplines – from ceramics and printmaking, to digital art, creative writing and sculpture.
Isos Supported Housing Operations manager, Jennifer Scott, said: “We actively encourage the use of the art studio as it is a great way for our service users to socialise in the community, to meet others with similar interests and to bring out some hidden talents.
“There’s a great community spirit at NTAS, too; when users first go to the centre they mightn’t be able to draw, but they’re given the support and time to discover their talents – there’s no pressure and this is a safe space for them to explore their interests.”
While the studio will accept self-referrals, normally people are put in touch via their GP, care co-ordinator, social worker, or occupational therapist.
A number of Isos service users have flourished since attending NTAS, with one budding artist going on to an art foundation degree at Sunderland University.
Others, who have attended the studio for a number of years, now work as volunteers, carrying out administration tasks, including publishing a quarterly newsletter and a monthly what’s on, as well as meeting and greeting new users.
Jennifer said: “The studio offers our service users real structure and discipline, as well as the opportunity to see just how much they can achieve through art. It helps them feel more positive and much more a part of a community.”
As well as workshops and taster sessions, NTAS also organises visits to galleries and exhibitions for users, and stages its own shows in local venues. The money raised by Isos will help pay for new equipment and art supplies.