Success story

Arts and Minds, Peterborough (Cambridgeshire)

Food prepared by participants of the “Recipe fit for a Poet” project

About the group

Arts and Minds recognises art as a form of creative expression that can be used as a positive outlet for expressing emotions, increasing confidence and self esteem, reducing social isolation and exclusion; together with offering significant therapeutic benefit for people with a mental illness or learning disability.

What the project was supposted to do

The project requested £2,700 to work with a local cookery teacher for one session a week for six weeks in two different wards of the Cavell Centre – the mental health unit of Peterborough’s Edith Cavell Hospital. They would be taught basic cooking skills and creative writing skills to help them live with some independence and adapt to the community when they are discharged.

What the project did

£2,700 awarded by Mars in the Community in February 2010 enabled 26 patients from Oak Ward (adult mental health) and patients from Hollies Ward (learning disabilities) at the Cavell Centre in Peterborough to work with local cookery teacher and poet, Keely Mills. Each ward had six sessions of cookery activities, one session per week. Participants were taught basic kitchen hygiene and each session cooked a main meal and a dessert. The participants learnt how to prepare quick, economical and healthy meals; they also looked at colour, texture and presentation of food. At the end of each session the groups sat and ate the food they had prepared and discussed how they would adapt recipes for different occasions.

The second part of the project involved each ward working with Keely for 3 sessions on creative writing. Each week the group were given foods that were new to them and encouraged to comment upon the flavours and textures. The group discussed what food means to them and from this the group worked with Keely to produce some poetry.

The poems and prose will be made into a book that will detail the recipes from the project, recipes and tips from the participants and from staff at the Cavell Centre. The booklet and contents are currently being compiled.

“The main outcomes that have been achieved as a result of this project are the confidence and boost in self esteem it has given participants to be more adventurous with food and it has given them knowledge to shop economically for ingredients when they have been discharged from the ward and are living independently in the community. Many of the participants enjoyed sitting as a "family" to share the food and chat. For some participants this is an activity they have never had the opportunity to take part in. Staff commented that they were able to gain much useful information about their patients that would not have become apparent otherwise. Everyone said they enjoyed the activities and felt relaxed, which has aided their recovery.”

Caroline Kisby – Development Associate, Arts and Minds

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