City of Bristol College’s Creative Arts Therapy Studies (CATS) students have tried to give back to NHS services during the lockdown by putting their creative skills to good use.
During the Coronavirus outbreak – which has now seen more than 30,000 die and over 190,000 contract the virus – NHS and care workers have been working around the clock in stressful environments dealing with the rising number of cases.
Higher education students Tana Cohan and Itzel Anaya have been among those making everything from activity books to ‘thank you’ cards for the staff at the University Hospitals – which works in partnership with the course.
Lecturer Amy Creech said: “The FdA in Creative Arts Therapy Studies has a strong partnership with the arts teams at the local hospitals – Southmead and the Bristol Royal Infirmary – so when art activities could no longer take place on the wards staff got in touch to ask the students for help.”
So the students have been hoping to alleviate some of the pressure on the key workers by creating interactive workbooks to reduce their stress.
For Tana, she has been creating ‘wellbeing circles’ which have been sent to the arts co-ordinator at Southmead Hospital, and currently seconded to the Nightingale hospital, which she hoped would ‘inspire creativity’.
She explained: “I came up with this activity because I wanted to offer a small exercise which inspires creativity in a non-pressure way and is focused away from the outcome, allowing us to just doodle and draw without self-judgement or expectations, much like when we were children.
“The idea behind tuning in to the body and how we are feeling is to move the attention inward, calming the body and mind through a shift in focus. Finally, the activity of remembering our favourite memory reminds us of our ability to use memory and imagination to create a sense of joy and wellbeing in the body. It also reminds us of just one of the many tolls we have to put a smile on our face and in our hearts.”
Tana hopes it will be a ‘lovely thing’ to do multiple times a week to look back on. She hopes it will give the staff a handful of great times and memories they can access in these stressful times.
Itzel has been responding to a request from the arts co-ordinator at Southmead to create get well soon and thank you cards for patients and staff who are quarantining.
She has also making hearts for the project to give one to each patient in the Intensive Care Unit and one to the family unit.
She explained: “I felt very motivated to link creative practice to this major health crisis as I consider it to be a strong way to connect with the community. I really love expressing emotion through art.
“I want to show gratitude to the NHS for their invaluable work, and hopefully cheer up somebody whether it is a patient or a member of staff. It reminds them they are valued and not forgotten. Our community values are strong and so are our people!”
The Creative Arts higher education course engages people in the arts to address and support mental, emotional, developmental and behavioural disorders. The two-year course teaches you about therapeutic approaches and the theory behind him.
Amy praised the voluntary work of her students during the lockdown. She said: “The students responded to this request so positively and have been doing all sorts of different things, from making cuddly toys for people with dementia, to a thank you card station for staff.
“They are demonstrating how they can use their creative skills to support both staff and patients, creating simple activities which people can do to keep boredom at bay, support their wellbeing or show appreciation for one another. It is amazing to see them all applying what we have been learning about so well!”
Find out more about the Creative Arts Therapy Studies course here.