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Taking an artistic approach to mental health support

Date published: 11 December 2023

Read time: 2 minutes

Two men and women stood outside of a house holding up pieces of art and instruments. Beside them are also two large plush bears.

RTProjects has used a £2,000 grant from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, to help local residents through art therapy.

RTProjects uses art therapies to help people, including those affected by depression and anxiety, develop emotional resilience and coping strategies.

Activities range from print making, clay modelling, and painting through to photography, music, writing and film making, and service users have access to the support for as long as they need.

Since it was set up 14 years ago, the Durham city-based charity has helped more than 700 people. Currently, around 40 people take part in sessions every week, most from around the local area, but some from as far as Stanley and Hartlepool.

RTProjects is almost entirely funded by grants and donations. The £2,000 grant will help cover its running costs, as all of the services are free at the point of use.

Beano, who set up RT Projects in 2009 with co-founder Emma Beattie, says: “We provide people with the opportunity for creative expression in a safe, supportive environment, and look to show each individual that their mental health problems aren’t permanent and that, no matter how difficult their situations might be, they can get through them.

“We let each service user decide which activities they want to try, depending on their interests and aptitudes, and it’s fascinating to watch artists emerging from people who’ve never previously thought of trying these sorts of creative activities.

“It’s also amazing to see them recognising the progress they’re making towards finding a more positive, long-term way forward.

“Support such as Newcastle Building Society’s is an absolute lifeline for us and we’re really grateful to have them on our side.”

Download the press release (PDF, 114kB).

Image caption: L-R Lizzie Cummings, our Head of Operational Resilience, with Simon Twigg, Emma Beattie, and Beano of RTProjects.

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