Saturday, 21 June 2014

Nurse Ratched: 'The best thing we can do is go on with our daily routine...'

The sun shines, infinite things are born and die and a warm breeze here and now, reminds me we're alive.

Over the last 6 months I’ve been involved in the facilitation of workshops with people in recovery from substance misuse. We’ve been meeting in small huddles, discussing life, discussing big things and small things. These have happened in Manchester and Liverpool, in Pistoia and Pescara and just this last week, the beautiful city of Kutahya and the streets of Istanbul. Whilst there are obvious cultural differences between those of us taking part in these conversations, there are things that bind us. We want to tell a story, shine a light, blow away the myths and stand proud. We want to generate new possibilities for people in recovery by challenging and changing attitudes. 

a   s  y  m  p  o  s  i  u  m         
I’ve been involved with a European Union, Life Long Learning Programme – Grundtvig funded project over these last few years, which comes to fruition on the 17th July with the opening of an exhibition here at MMU and a free symposium. This symposium will share some of the artistic outputs, learning and responses from people taking part in the project. We will share an emerging Recoverist Manifesto that seeks to place individuals in recovery and those affected by addiction at the heart of proactive advocacy for cultural change in the way substance misuse is publicly perceived. We are thankful to everyone who has supported this project. We will be circulating all details via an Eventsbright link for registration, with priority given to people in recovery and those involved in the field.

An evening with Will Self
I’ve been asked by so many people about the Will Self event on the 25th July that I’ll have to organise an Eventsbright page for details and registration. I’ll do this, this week and post them on this blog, on twitter and facebook. Next week, I’ll share details of the exhibition that’s bringing Will to Manchester: URBAN PSYCHOSIS and another unique and incredibly exciting public event that explores some of the myths and facts around psychosis, with groundbreaking and radical thinkers in psychology and from the Hearing Voices Network. Thanks to the LAHF for its generous contribution to the Will Self event through its Creativity and Wellbeing Week initiative.

Faculty of Public Health Annual Conference
This years conference is taking place in Manchester on July 2/3 where I’ll be speaking about Authenticity in Arts and Public Health. I’m thrilled that my friend and colleague Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt will be presenting some of her findings for the AHRC’s Cultural Value project where she has been investigating longitudinal impact of arts engagement on health and wellbeing in Nordic countries...and so much more. We'll be sharing this work soon on a dedicated website. 

All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing
Regular reders of this blog will know that the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbing have been instrumental in establishing an All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG). Whilst the group was formally established a few months ago, its first formal meeting will be held on July 2nd and its special subject will be The Care Act: How the arts and culture can contribute to improving the quality of care following the Francis Inquiry. I’m thrilled that Robert Francis QC who is widely recognised for his public inquiry into Mid-Staffordshire Hospitals, will be a speaker at this event. For my part, since I wrote A Bird in a Gilded Cage last year, I’ll be keen to see how the arts can influence broader thinking in the filed of care.

Also attending will be Dr Ellen Storm is a paediatric trainee in the Mersey region and the mother of three-year-old twin girls. She has been writing poetry for ten years and has had poems published in a vaiety of magazines. Ellen will read her poem Out of Hospital Arrest, which won the 2014 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine in the NHS category, of which Francis is a judge. She blogs at 

Nikki Crane, Head of Arts Strategy at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and Dr Suzy Willson, Artistic Director of Clod Ensemble (Performing Medicine) will also be speaking, and both are working with King’s College London Medical School to embed arts-based learning into the curriculum for medical students and with the Simulation and Interactive Learning Centre (SaIL) at St Thomas’ to integrate a training programme for healthcare professionals that addresses the recommendations of the Francis Report.

The discussion will be chaired by the Rt Hon. Paul Burstow MP with Co-Chairs: Rt Hon. Paul Burstow MP, Rt Hon. Lord Howarth of Newport CBE, and Sarah Newton MP. I’ll report back on the proceedings after the event and as ever, extend my thanks to Alliance member Alexandra Coulter, for leading these important political developments.

The top 10 hospital stories
Author Sarah Moss suggests her top hospital stories, commenting, “I'm interested in writing about institutions because they are almost always in some sense utopian projects, attempts to intervene in the ways of the world. Schools, hospitals, orphanages, reformatories of all kinds, begin with the idea that an organisation could make things better, redress some of the damage we do to each other. And usually, whether they succeed in the original aim or not, institutions end up doing damage of their own, because power corrupts and visions don't work in practice and we are all hopeful but fallen beings.
I find hospitals particularly fascinating because of the harmony or discord between the stories of nurses, patients and doctors, and because of the complicated relationships between power, suffering and healing.” Read her selection by clicking on Nurse Ratched

One Thing, Many Stories
People’s History Museum
21 June 2014 — 10 July 2014
Photographing opportunity – Free family event day 21 June 12-4pm
Pod Collective has been funded by the Arts Council to showcase an exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester, 21 June - 10 July. A celebration of shared collective memories and common experiences amongst refugees, asylum-seekers and a variety of other community groups, the exhibition takes the form of an embroidery installation combined with a photography exhibition. Click on the banner below. 

New Programme to Support Innovation in Public Libraries 
The Carnegie Trust has announced that it will launch a new programme in September 2014 to support public libraries. Called "Carnegie Library Lab" the programme aims to nurture innovation and leadership in the Public Library sector and will offer learning opportunities, mentoring, networking and a project funding. The project funding will be used to help successful applicants develop and implement innovative projects in relation to public libraries and services. The programme will run for three years, from 2014 to 2017. Read more at:

Women Make Music Grant Scheme 
The Performing Right Society (PRS) has announced that its Women Make Music grant scheme is now open for applications. Through the programme, financial support of up to £5000 is available. The next application deadline is the 29th September 2014. Read more at

Carnegie Challenge 
The Carnegie UK Trust has announced that it is offering up to ten not-for-profit organisations from the UK and Ireland the opportunity to win grants worth £3,000 to hold inspiring debates on how to improve people’s wellbeing.  The Carnegie UK Trust has been arguing that focusing on delivering economic growth as the sole indicator of social prosperity is flawed. Instead, the Trust believes the time is right for the UK and Ireland to shift its emphasis from economic production to improving people’s lives more broadly.  The Carnegie Challenge aims to support events around the UK and Ireland that will deepen understanding of what influences individual and societal wellbeing; explore how best to measure wellbeing and how this can be used to shape policy and practice; or examine what practical steps can be taken by third sector organisations and governments to improve wellbeing.  There will be three funding rounds in 2014 and the  closing date for the last funding round  is the 14th July 2014. Read more at

A serious question: 
Does Michael Gove Exist? 
Click on the dashing young Gove to find out more… 

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