Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

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Creative, Relaxed, Yourself

This project will support the mental health of young people aged 14–18 through engagement with the collections at six Hertfordshire museums (Watford, Royston, North Herts, St Albans, Stevenage and Welwyn Hatfield). It is an early intervention for those at risk of, or already suffering from stress, anxiety or depression as identified by schools and health professionals.

Museums are recognised as venues which can have a major effect on health and wellbeing. Working with collections which ideally need interpretation including newly acquired objects we will use arts practice to draw out stories which reflect participants’ own experiences.

Participants will develop a sense of belonging to their local community, combatting isolation and engendering increased wellbeing. It has been amply demonstrated through academic research that the arts have a positive effect on wellbeing, this is not art therapy, simply an opportunity to express oneself in a safe, supportive and non-judgmental environment.

The project provides for Mental Health awareness training for staff and volunteers at participating museums. There will be ongoing celebration/sharing of work by individual groups but the culmination will be a coherent online record set up in consultation with the participants.

What is it?

9 weekly 2-hour workshops.

We provide pizza, so won’t go hungry!

Who is it for?

Anyone ages 14-18 who needs a bit of time out in a friendly, relaxed space.

When is it?

Wednesdays after school, beginning in the New Year.

What will I be doing?

Different venues will be hosting different creative activities – it might be photography, art, writing, music, collage.

Most importantly, you don’t need any experience; everyone is welcome, including complete beginners.

It is NOT a formal art class.

Where does it take place?

Our sessions will be happening at North Hertfordshire Museum, in Hitchin. Others will take place in Royston, St Albans, Stevenage, Watford and Welwyn Garden City.

What if I miss the school bus?

We may be able to provide transport.

How do I find out more?

Call or text 07746 578292, email us or talk to you teacher.

Cover of a book about women's suffrage in North HertsMy favourite part of this week was when I helped in the Learning centre in a work shop called ‘Traditional toys’ on Tuesday and a mono-printing workshop on Thursday. I am thinking of volunteering on these days after my placement is over. I learnt more about how a museum is run as I helped move objects into storage, checked object numbers were in the right place and helped open up each morning. Because of this, I feel that I now have a good understanding of what a career in a museum might look like.
I got a chance to expand my history knowledge this week, as I read a book sold in the museaum called Suffrage stories: Tales from Knebworth, Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth. I also learnt more about Queer history as i researched: Margaret Thomas, Henrietta Pilkington and homosexuality in the 19th century. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about both of these.

The front of the museum

We have been open less than a week and we have already had over one thousand visitors through the new front doors.

If you haven’t been in yet then come down. See the Blood and Bone exhibition, have a cuppa and browse our gift shop!

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