We run ArtAid, a nationally recognised project (shortlisted for the 2015 Children and Young People Now Awards, Culture category) in partnership with CAMHS in Brighton and Hove that works with children and teenagers in care who are users of mental health services. Darren also runs a puppetry course for the Sussex Recovery College.
Increasingly, our creative and participatory work inform one another and our work uses puppetry to relate to emotional realities and to create community-engaged work with immediate connections for audiences.
A project that explores the ways puppetry (and film) can engage with mental health issues in young people.
Activity includes the Therapeutic Art Group, working with teenagers in care and experiencing mental health difficulties, meeting weekly. The group has just remounted the interactive exhibition A Place of Safety as part of Artists Open Houses. In 2015 this exhibition was shortlisted for the national Children and Young People Now awards for excellence in cultural projects working with children.
Intensive Summer Transition Group: Each summer we work with a small group of young people who are in the mental health system and also in foster care, and who are in transition from junior to secondary school. We work with them to create an original film using a range of puppetry techniques, puppet, set and costume making, filming and craft activities which culminates in a public screening for their carers and others across the local NHS and voluntary mental health services.
We are recently started to pilot working with an older group of teenagers experiencing self harm.
This work has been supported by the Brighton & Hove Mental Wellbeing Innovation Fund, Sussex Community Foundation and is currently funded by BBC Children in Need.
Puppets Gone Mad
a project run in collaboration with Art in Mind, a group of young adults with experience of mental illness. We made eight short films using a wide range of puppetry and stop-motion animation, all very personal to the film-makers. These can be seen on the Art in Mind website.