The Arts can really make a difference

Kimberley Griffin, People United’s work placement student reflects on recent pieces of work that illustrate the value of the arts. Kimberley has just completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of Kent.

I recently came across the newest report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Arts, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, which indicates all of the beneficial effects of the arts. It is a really informative and interesting read of the evidence found from 2 years’ worth of research that has a great synergy with the work of People United. The report claims that by engaging in any one of the visual or performing arts it can lead to improvements in a range of areas, including: depression, anxiety, loneliness, workplace stress, the management of long-term conditions, and the quality of life for stroke and dementia patients.

Whilst reading the report I kept thinking about how much People United’s work supports this and what has been inspiring to see recently is the documentary on Channel 4 that provides further practical support in line with the APPG report (which I can only hope will reach and inspire a wider population). The documentary called Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds follows a 6-week experiment investigating whether contact between pre-schoolers and pensioners can improve the physical and mental wellbeing of the pensioners through play, sport activities, and the arts. This relatively short period of intergenerational contact not only provided the pensioners and the pre-school children with a lot of enjoyment and enrichment in their lives, but it also led to improvements in the pensioners’ mood, strength, and mobility.

This documentary was fantastic to watch and I highly recommend it. It also got me thinking of the work People United did with Lunsford Primary School and the community care homes in their Treasure (Role Model) project. Similarly to the Channel 4 documentary, it involved connecting the younger generation with the older generation by encouraging them to think about people they treasure in their life and create related art pieces to share. The results from this project were very encouraging; both the care home residents and the children thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it increased the children’s kindness towards older people. From this, People United created their Hunting for Treasure resource, which I think is a fantastic and valuable source for schools to use. It provides inspirational and practical ideas to create a more kind and caring society through the arts.

So, if reading this blog, the report, or watching the documentary has left you feeling inspired download – for free – the People United resources here, to help make a difference and promote the importance of engaging in the arts!

– Find out more about People United at www.peopleunited.org.uk

(Photo by Hope Fitzgerald.)

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