Painting A Better Future

Meet Jaq, mother of two who struggled with unemployment and anxiety before taking up art and crafts as a way of improving her well-being. Joining us as a volunteer 9 years ago through an initiative with Bath Mind, Jaq has since combined her passion for art, with her personal experience using art therapy and professional training in mental health, to facilitate our Life Skills Art Group.

Jaq shares her transformative journey with us and talks about the benefits of engaging with creative activities.

“When we create art, it allows for lots of emotive issues to come to the surface – the therapeutic value of this is very high. People often come to the classes in the morning in a withdrawn or bad mood, by the end of the session they are in a different place. I have really learnt from the people I have worked with, we have learnt from each other.”

Over the past six years Jaq has made a truly outstanding contribution to the Art Group; encouraging and inspiring many of our clients who are socially isolated or experiencing mental health issues to make positive changes in their lives. This is particularly important in an area where 16% of the working age population experience a common mental health illness, where depression is higher than the national average, and in which three quarters of those with mental health issues receive no formal treatment [1].

“The Art Group creates a safe and supportive space to learn new skills and a place to access resources that wouldn’t ordinarily be available. Once a week we provide an opportunity for people to have some respite and discover their creative side and potential. ”

One participant perfectly summed up the benefits, “When I am in the classes it’s the only time I don’t think about my problems”.

For the past three years the artwork produced has been displayed at Fringe Arts Bath – a prestigious and high-profile event which has enabled our Life Skills participants to showcase their work to a wider audience in the local community, and most importantly, as artists. This has had a truly positive impact on the individual’s sense of social inclusion and confidence.

Facilitating the Art Group has not only helped our clients however, it has had a direct benefit on Jaq’s own self-esteem and ambitions.

“It has been an amazing and life changing experience running the Art Group. The role has been challenging and so rewarding. I never thought I would have had the courage to run the groups. Life Skills really facilitated me becoming a facilitator, and I now run art groups in other organisations”.

Often, our projects at Genesis Trust act as a springboard for both clients and volunteers, and it is truly amazing to hear the stories of people who, together, have changed their lives.

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[1] http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/your-council-and-democracy/local-research-and-statistics/wiki/mental-health-and-illness