Art With Heart team at Eccles Library

Salford reporter, Paul Sherlock, paid a visit to Art With Heart’s mobile wellbeing room – SPACE – in Eccles Library for a cuppa, a chat, plenty of feel-good activities and does exactly what it says on the tin – giving you space to unwind and connect. Here he tells us all about it.

“Not often do we take the time to unwind in a busy world and encourage each other to communicate and connect – SPACE does this by drawing people together (excuse the pun) through art.

“The mobile arts and wellbeing room, SPACE, originated from a need for social enterprise “Art with Heart” to look after their audiences after some particularly challenging theatre, to give them a buffer between it and returning to normal life and, as lead practitioner Rachel described it, offering people “a bit of a break from the negativity of the world right now and a chance to decompress and ground themselves.”

“Visitors to the mobile wellbeing room were a mixture of curious passers-by and attendees who had seen the event advertised, all of which were greeted with a cup of tea (I had two!) and invited to experience a range of arts activities or talk to a trained professional who can start to sign post them to take the next steps towards looking after themselves.

“Many of us would simply say “we’re fine” if asked how we are. The magic of this event is that the art activities drew you in, and the conversations – about your interests as well as self-care and wellbeing- naturally followed.

“A series of activities helped us to do this; including a long colouring in sheet (perhaps a modern-day Manchester version of the Bayeux Tapestry – which developed further at each venue) and a “Grow your Own” table where you could combine seeds with a pot, soil and water and put them in the light. This activity sewn the seed for a conversation on what will help you grow as a person – identifying an aspiration in your life and describe the necessary elements to nurture this into a reality.

“A cast back to the days of school fetes, the “Lucky Dip” contained labels saying “Read Me” (reminiscent of the items encountered by Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole). Having selected one, you had a random suggestion of something to do that could enhance your wellbeing.

“The event certainly had the feelgood factor, and I would encourage anyone to check out SPACE when it pitches up in their local area.”

SPACE is currently on tour, and its next stop will be Rochdale on November 27 at Touchstones. Art with Heart is a not for profit CIC, based in Salford that provides creative experiences in the form of performances, projects, exhibitions, workshops and training to support people to unlock their creativity, discover their voice and explore their values, which is led by Sarah Emmott and Rachel Moorhouse. Their mission is “to bring diverse communities together through drama, interactive work and education. Bringing art and drama to those who may not have the opportunity to experience it”.