Well, one way that Wessex Archaeology is working to contribute to answering the above question is through the Well-City Salisbury project. You might remember a post a few months ago introducing the project. But if not, here’s the low-down:
Well-City Salisbury is a National Lottery funded partnership project supporting people with mental health needs in the Salisbury area on their journey to wellbeing through creative courses and opportunities such as volunteering.
Through fostering connection – to the arts, to heritage, to our local area, to the landscape and to each other – the project will invite people to experience moments of learning, discovery, curiosity and creativity, all of which are known to have beneficial effects on mental health.
The 8-week long creative courses will be delivered by the four project partners – Wessex Archaeology (lead partner), ArtCare, The Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Creative – and facilitated by local artists and expert staff. The project will deliver 8 courses per year for the next 3 years.
We’ll be offering courses for both adults and young people aged 14-19 and will primarily be using a referring model where participants are signposted onto a course by their GP practice, support organisation or school wellbeing team.
Over the past few months, the project has gone from an idea to something that feels increasingly real. We have a logo! We have a Project Coordinator (Hi, that’s me, Emma)! We’re on Twitter @WellCitySals – we’d love a follow!
We’ve got our project evaluators on board – a great team from The Centre for Public History and Heritage at Manchester Metropolitan University that we’re very excited to be working with.
Our team of staff facilitators and artists have undertaken Mental Health First Aid training to prepare us to best support project participants but also each other and colleagues in our own organisations.
We’ve been busy recruiting artists, designing courses, setting up our referring and safeguarding processes and meeting with lots of people to spread the word about what Well-City Salisbury can offer.
We soft launched the project with a pilot creative course delivered by The Salisbury Museum which started in October – they’ve bravely volunteered to lead the way! We’re also now taking bookings for courses starting in January and February.
Wessex Archaeology will be delivering the course – Earth Works – starting in February along with a course starting in May and we’re looking forward to working with artists Suzie Gutteridge and James Aldridge as well as expert staff to deliver these.
As individuals working in the heritage field, we all know how meaningful engaging with the past and with the historic environment can be. And throughout the pandemic and various lockdowns, we’ve all had cause to think about our mental health and wellbeing and their importance. Through Well-City Salisbury, Wessex Archaeology has the opportunity to make a real difference for the local community in Salisbury.
As the project continues to gather steam, we’re excited to be working with our course participants and to see how the project develops. We hope you might be interested in following along on the journey too.
By Emma Gascoigne, Well-City Salisbury Project Coordinator