Case Study: Celf Bytholwyrdd / Evergreen Art

Authors(s), Creator(s) and Contributors: Kate Strudwick - Head4Arts

Publication Date: 16/01/2024

Categories: Case Studies

Partner(s): Head4Arts Cruse Bereavement Care Coed Lleol Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB Valleys Steps Valleys Regional Park

Funder(s): Arts Council of Wales Contributions from Cruse Bereavement Care and Head4Arts


Celf Bytholwyrdd / Evergreen Art brought together arts, bereavement, wellbeing and environment specialists exploring how arts activities in green spaces might assist healing processes in people experiencing bereavement. It involved impact of bereavement training for arts practitioners, and creative skill training for bereavement counsellors. It gave an opportunity for participants to speak about their loss whilst making objects which continued the bonds with their loved one. The project took place in the Eastern Valleys (Parc Cwm Darran, Cyfarthfa Park, Pontypool Park, Libanus Lifestyle and the memorial garden at Prince Charles Hospital), plus outreach work for Cruse in Cardiff and North Wales. The partners included Head4Arts, Cruse Bereavement Care, Coed Lleol and Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB.

The Challenge

The project aimed: • to address challenges relating to poor mental health experienced by people who have been bereaved, with exacerbated levels of grief following the disruption of normal grieving processes as a result of the Covid pandemic. • to explore alternative non-medical methods of supporting recovery after bereavement, testing the effectiveness of arts activities in combination with engagement with the natural environment • To identify which type of arts activities work best in the context of bereavement support • To provide bereavement training for artists and arts skills training for volunteer bereavement counsellors • To see how best the partners could work together in the future, • To create a mobile digital exhibition commemorating those who have died

The Approach

From July 2021 to October 2022 the project delivered: 5 x Volunteer training sessions (3 x in-person, 1 x online) where Cruse volunteer counsellors were taught arts skills to support their practice (110 attendances) 1 x “Impact of Bereavement” training session for artists (9 participants). 16 x 3-hour Making & Memory sessions where bereaved people created items memorialising someone who had died and interacted with others in the same situation (35 participants). 4 x 1-hour arts sessions in Prince Charles Hospital Memorial Garden supporting staff (27 attendees) 8 x Remembering Day sessions at St Fagan’s Museum for families receiving counselling from Cruse (124 attendees) The project involved 9 artists (5 who had received Cruse “Impact of Bereavement” training). The project budget was £10,680. The largest portion was spent on professional fees for artists The activities delivered included: o Wet felting, needle felting o Air-drying clay with botanicals and lettering to create commemorative plaques. o Metal foil art using plants in relief o Memory bead craft o Origami o Poetry o Greetings cards and bookmarks o Flower pounding to make prints on fabric o Rock Painting o “Stained glass” pictures using coloured gels o Digital art (memory rocks)

The Impact

An external evaluator (Ruth Garnault) was engaged and her report is uploaded. Data was collected using well-being “umbrellas” (with 3 positive and 3 negative indicators), artist reflection diaries, a focus group of artists, one-to-one interviews with key partners, observation of a Making and Memories session and discussion with participants. At the beginning and end of each Making and Memories session participants were asked to score their feelings on a 1 – 5 scale across 6 indicators: anxious, lonely, sad, energised, connected & inspired. Analysis of the date demonstrated positive change: • Decreased anxiety (0.8 points) • Decreased loneliness (0.9 points) • Decreased sadness (0.9 points) • Increased feelings of being energised (1.08 points) • Increased connectedness (1.32 points) • Increased feeling of being inspired (1.4 points) The artists felt more knowledgeable about the impact of bereavement and how to adapt their practice to better meet the needs of participants who are grieving. Many indicated a desire to continue working in the context of bereavement support. Plans for Cruse Volunteer training days now include workshops with professional arts practitioners. The partners now have a better understanding of each other’s roles.

Lessons Learned

The project was harder than anticipated as partners changed roles, moved jobs & altered priorities Creative activities inspired by nature can impact positively on wellbeing but working outdoors is not always comfortable for participants or artists Artists found the ‘impact of bereavement’ training useful Successful recruitment of participants needs a combination of effective marketing & referrals from other relevant services Having regular sessions is helpful for referral agencies The mobile digital exhibition element needs rethinking

The Legacy

“It’s a cracking partnership. A really good example of partnership working because there is an exchange of knowledge and skills.” Cruse Manager Head4Arts is now delivering regular monthly sessions in four indoor venues, adjacent to green spaces, this time with more focus given to building referral routes from other support services. More regular involvement of artists from across Wales in Cruse's volunteer training sessions. Further projects with Coed Lleol and Prince Charles Hospital.

Website and Social Media Links Project evaluation is included as an attachment m5LH9ocNckgG5pA31XRKmgbvw7c4ZAl&id=260064357408577 8mJmF2NEStfABuQWrS4x5DEN8dK1LSkWl&id=260064357408577 R7H5k5oJw55eeZg6GqLQL6N1qL1mFErl&id=260064357408577

Contact Details

Kate Strudwick

Tags: Mental Health Bereavement Grief Isolation Community Arts Environmental Arts Craft Poetry Training

Celf Bytholwyrdd / Evergreen Art