James Wigg Practice
Following an initial 6-week Make Sense programme, Engage Here received support from Free Space Project and funding from the National Lottery to run a year’s worth of sensory workshops at the James Wigg Practice in Kentish Town.
The Free space Project is a initiative in North London that support arts and community projects. For Engage Here, this meant a space within the James Wigg Practice, a local GP surgery in Camden, to deliver sensory art workshops. Whereas most of our workshops exist in settings such as community or cultural centres, hosting workshops in a health setting enabled a different level of accessibility. In a direct sense this means users of the practice can be referred by their GP to one of our sessions, resulting in participants receiving local holistic support, in a location they trust. While our drop-in policy means there is a positive hub in a setting that might otherwise be stressful for users.
The format of the workshops follows our Make Sense programme, which utilises art processes to stimulate the senses. For instance we have been able to monoprint and cyanotype print with nature found in the health centre’s garden, as well as respond to local sounds through drawing. The benefit of a long-term programme also means we can repeat processes that participants responded to best and want to explore further. We have experienced a regular group of 6 participants, who it’s been great to see the sustained improvement in their confidence, as well as a joy to have a number of drop-ins who have kept the sessions fresh and dynamic.
This programme has been great example of participatory diversity. Currently involved, we have people living dementia, an adult with cognitive-impairment, and older participants who have not been formally diagnosed with dementia but are experiencing many of the symptoms. It has engaged locals who were already using the GP practice, but also brought new people to the practice who had never been before, and may in turn get other help useful to them. The programme has offered opportunities for GP’s and social prescribers to get involved. They are able to take part in the sessions, in the same way as the other participants, as a means of giving them a better sense of the service they are referring patients to.
This project has been made possible by the National Lottery Community Fund.