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Healing Expressive and Recovery Arts Project

The HERA arts project at WellBN is a network of programmes using the arts and creative practices that enhance the quality of life, health and wellbeing of our patients, staff and community.

We provide access to high-quality arts activity to people. These activities are specifically designed to improve the functional health and wellbeing of participants whether they are suffering from physical or mental illness or a combination of both.

Creative and Connected: Pioneering Brighton arts and health programme receives funding to work across whole city

Brighton & Hove City Council have made a major funding award to a charity partnership that puts the arts at the heart of health.

Since 2014, the Hera Project in Brighton & Hove has been funded by Arts Council England and others to support the health & wellbeing of people living with long-term health concerns. People access the programme through their GP surgery, and can refer themselves without having to see a doctor.

The evidence is conclusive - being creative and connected provides measurable benefits for physical and mental health.

Around 30% of the city's population live with ongoing health challenges, and 5% have significant and complex issues. Hera has delivered thousands of support sessions, and has created a model that is now a national leader in changing the way primary care is delivered.

Brighton & Hove City Council has awarded nearly £300,000 over three years to fund creative workshops with primary care patients, alongside training for arts and health professionals, access support for people with disabilities or low confidence, and public events to showcase the special creativity and diversity of the city.

Lead partner the Robin Hood Health Foundation, which is based at Hove GP practice WellBN, will be working with venue The Old Market, arts charity Creative Future, and disability inclusion specialists Diversity and Ability.

Hera Programme Director Emma Drew said:

Our charity was set up by visionary GP Laura Marshall Andrews, and the Hera Project has developed new ways to support patients with their physical and mental health, using dance, music, art, photography, creative writing and creative computing. Last year, people engaging in three or more group sessions saw an average 41% reduction in their need for GP appointments, according to an evaluation done by a doctor at Brighton & Sussex Medical School.

Our view is that arts and culture are a basic right, regardless of your health status - and a healthy life includes creativity. We are so grateful to BHCC for the leadership they have shown in arts and health, and for the vital support they are providing.

This funding means we can work with these brilliant partner organisations to reach many more people and massively increase the impact of what we do.

Coronavirus will not stop us - we have built an online and telephone support system, and are working hard to reach everyone referred to us, regardless of whether they are online or not yet. And as soon as it is safe to do so, we will resume our fantastic creative sessions face-to-face - patients tell us often how much difference they make.

The partner organisations

The Robin Hood Health Foundation is a registered charity that integrates creative support for patients with primary care, and all activities are free. It has received funding from Arts Council England, Sussex Community Foundation, NHS England and public donations.

Public enquiries and referrals can be directed to or 01273 712175

The Old Market is an established professional arts venue with a varied and high quality programme, and a commitment to being active in its local community

More info:

Creative Future provides professional support and training for creative people facing barriers to an artistic career, such as disability, cultural background or low income

More info:

Diversity and Ability is an award-winning disabled-led social enterprise paving the way for a future where everyone is welcomed and included. Their support is tailored to the unique needs of each individual, ensuring it's genuinely empowering. They are particularly keen to highlight the importance of an authentic, intersectional approach to supporting disabled people.

More info:

National Association of Link Workers Membership Badge

National Association of Link Workers Membership Badge

Robin Hood Health employs the NHS Social Prescribing Link Workers for WellBN, Charter and Trinity Medical practices. Social prescribing is a way of working with you to address what is most important to you, and help you access the support you need to be as well as possible.

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