Art has a ma­jor role to play in peo­ple’s well­be­ing

Leek Post & Times - - NEWS - By Jenny Am­phlett jen­nifer.am­phlett@reach­plc.com

A GROUP that uses the arts to ex­plore men­tal health is­sues has been nom­i­nated for a Moor­lands He­roes Award.

Leek-based Border­land Voices, which has been help­ing peo­ple across the Staffordshire Moor­lands for two decades, has been put for­ward as Com­mu­nity or Vol­un­tary Group of the year.

Reg­u­lar weekly ses­sions in patch­work, cre­ative writ­ing and ex­pres­sive arts are held at the group’s base in Bank House, Leek.

Co-or­di­na­tor Andy Collins, from Flash, leads the group hav­ing pre­vi­ously been a trustee.

She has faced her own per­sonal strug­gle with men­tal health, as she suf­fers from bipo­lar dis­or­der.

“We of­fer arts for health and men­tal well­be­ing and sup­port many peo­ple who may be get­ting el­derly, feel iso­lated or are hav­ing men­tal health is­sues,” she said.

“We also try to reach out to peo­ple who don’t think they’re ‘arty’ and we are ex­per­i­ment­ing with evening ses­sions in ther­a­peu­tic colour­ing for peo­ple who may be hold­ing down a job but are strug­gling.”

Over the decades Border­land Voices has been in­volved in a wide range of com­mu­nity projects, in­clud­ing pro­duc­ing work in­spired by the Man­i­fold and Chur­net val­leys, sculp­tures, mu­sic and cre­ative writ­ing.

Fund­ing from South West Peak Land­scape Part­ner­ship has en­abled forth­com­ing projects in­clud­ing a per­for­mance in Flash this Fri­day bring­ing to­gether the words and tales of peo­ple liv­ing in the area.

Then there is an up­com­ing fes­ti­val in Leek cel­e­brat­ing the area’s links with the 14th Cen­tury poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Border­land Voices are work­ing with artist Sue Prince to cre­ate a folk art panel based on the Arthurian leg­end.

Andy said she wel­comes the award nom­i­na­tion as it helps to raise the pro­file of the group and the work it car­ries out.

She said: “We’re very pleased to be awarded fund­ing from var­i­ous groups and in­di­vid­u­als. Last month we were given a do­na­tion by the for­mer High Sher­iff of Staffordshire and will shortly be­ing pre­sented with a do­na­tion from the Ma­sons in Han­ley.

“How­ever men­tal health is not a ‘cud­dly’ cause. Phys­i­cal health has gen­er­ally been higher up the agenda than men­tal health.”

Andy added that the group is al­ways look­ing for trustees and would like to es­tab­lish a friends group to help with fund-rais­ing and aware­ness.

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