World Health Day – the essential contribution of Arts for Health Milton Keynes5 April 2019
As World Health Day approaches, Director Stuart Isaac flags the importance of Arts for Health MK to the provision of health and wellbeing in Milton Keynes and calls for additional resources and creative partnerships to ensure its future survival.
On 7 April 2019 people worldwide will spotlight the World Health Organisation’s designated World Health Day. And rightly so. In 2019 their campaign focus is on universal health care via strong (first sector) primary care services. But let’s not forget the third sector’s contribution to the provision of, and equality of access to healthcare, especially here in Milton Keynes.
Arts for Health Milton Keynes (AHMK) is what’s known as a third sector organisation (TSO). And what is that you may ask? Well put simply – it’s neither a public (first sector) organisation nor private (second sector) organisation, but falls within a third sector category that includes registered charities, associations, self-help and community groups, social enterprises, mutuals and co-operatives. But make no mistake, third sector doesn’t mean third-rate or third in importance! Invaluable and frequently essential contributions to people’s health and wellbeing at all different life stages are being made by charities such as ours.
Since 2011, AHMK has provided Arts on Prescription for people from 8 years and upwards in MK with health and wellbeing challenges, and our main focus is on mental health. Within this programme, we have developed progressive courses (such as Step Up) which enable participants to develop their own artistic practice whilst strengthening their personal resilience. Our HEADSTART courses, currently supported by MK Community Foundation (MKCF) include visual arts sessions as well as multiple artforms for the younger age group.
Our Arts on Prescription programme, which includes Art & Dementia has helped over 600 adults and almost 50 young people living with a variety of health and wellbeing challenges. Some of our participants go on to volunteer in different settings, with some adult participants able to move back in to work.
We would like to highlight some of the other local organisations which support MK’s third sector and contribute to the arts, health and wellbeing agenda. For example, the valuable work of the newly expanded MK Gallery and it’s Changing Places toilet provision funded by MKCF; Arts & Heritage Alliance MK which is a conduit for inward investment opportunities and operates the MK Cultural Education Partnership. Camphill MK’s Chrysalis Theatre has become a base for a number of our courses, and we also deliver in partnership with The Old Bath House in Wolverton, and Unity Park Station close to the CMK Railway Station.
We remain grateful for the financial contribution towards our core costs which we receive from Milton Keynes Council and Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH). We welcome companies such as Santander to work with us voluntarily, for example to support our Creative Courtyards programme at MKUH. This is one of our opportunities for companies to develop their team-building whilst contributing to their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, and benefit from our particular style of health & wellbeing activities.
You might liken health and wellbeing provision to a three-legged stool – upheld by first, second and third sector legs. You only have to lose one of them for it to become unstable or topple over. And as a compassionate and civilised society we need to keep that stool stable, so it can provide rest and support for all who need to use it!
Not everyone can thrust a hand into deep pockets and pull out wedges of spare cash – though if you can we’d love to hear from you and will put it to excellent use! (Donate here) But there are many other ways to support us with varying degrees of effort, expense or involvement. Here are a few:
- Join our e-list by emailing email@example.com – so we can keep you informed of our progress, projects or needs
- Come visit the University Hospital Art Collection of over 400 pieces – and support its conservation and display
- Buy an original artwork from one of our temporary exhibitions - sales commission will help all our work
- If you are a GP or work in health and social care – invite us to tell you more about our work at one of your staff meetings
- Ask about opportunities to volunteer with us firstname.lastname@example.org
At Arts for Health MK our vision, passion and commitment is to promote individual health and wellbeing via our programme of artist-led activities and projects, and the enhanced healthcare setting we provide for staff, visitors and patients at MKUH. We thank you for your support, be it past, present or future. Happy World Health Day!
Artistic & Programmes Director, Arts for Health Milton Keynes