Brittany Guymer

Cultural Wellbeing Grants Support Archaeology on Prescription Project

As part of York’s Culture Strategy, Make It York, York CVS, and City of York Council have come together to award funding of more than £60,000 to nineteen social and cultural initiatives across the city – with the aim of easing loneliness, isolation, and mental ill-health across the city. 

The grants, which were made available via the Better Care Fund and Ways to Wellbeing, were set up in recognition of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on people’s wellbeing – through shielding, self-isolation, and social distancing. This series of case studies profiles each of the 2021 recipients: 

One of the projects which has been supported by the grants is Archaeology on Prescription – the nation’s first archaeological dig ‘on prescription’ for individuals who have experienced mental health difficulties, instigated by York Archaeology (YA). 

In the Autumn of 2021, 38 residents took part in the new pilot project led by York Archaeology. The residents were all referred by wellbeing providers, with the project aiming to provide an opportunity for those who experience mental health to take part in developing their skills and knowledge of archaeology, as well as providing a social environment to break patterns of negative thinking and offer mindfulness.  

During this project, the residents were encouraged to take part in an archaeological dig on site at the former nursing home Willow House on Walmgate. The residents were empowered to make their own decisions about what activities they took part in each day, with those were physically unable to dig never feeling excluded from the archaeological work and other activities planned for bad weather days, including the logging of data, preparing the site, and creating artwork to portray the findings.

Over nine weeks, the perceptions and experiences of participants were gathered through participant observation, interviewing and case studies.  

The findings of the project can be identified in four main themes:  

  • Mental health improvements- the participants were aware of a positive change in their mental health over the course of the project 
  • Supportive and knowledgeable staff – the value and importance of the staff contributions in making people feel welcome and confident to engage in archaeology 
  • Belonging to a team – participants expressed the importance of feeling part of the archaeological team, which took place from the outset of the project 
  • Learning and Discovery – people felt that they had learned a great deal throughout the project and spoke about a sense of discovery/appreciation of the variety of tasks on the project 

One participant said – “As the dig went on, we all became more confident in what we were finding, identifying and ageing pieces of pottery. The number of items which were good enough to keep was amazing. The tactile shards hidden for hundreds of years almost came alive, inspiring imagination and amazement- what was it used for? The decoration on pieces and how it was made and by whom absolutely captivated me, every time I found something.” 

Katrina Gargett, Community Engagement Manager at York Archaeological Trust, says, “Even though Archaeology on Prescription is still a relatively new project, we’re thrilled to say it’s been a success in meeting its aims to positively improve wellbeing, foster new social connections and develop skills and knowledge, helping to contribute to a general sense of belonging for our participants.  

So far we’ve had individuals referred from a number of third-sector organisations across York and through the NHS via Social Prescribing Link Workers. Very few of our participants have taken part in archaeology before they join the project, and many have spoken about their excitement at being given the opportunity to have a go. The excitement is palpable on-site at Willow House, with every object discovered providing a tangible and fascinating link to York’s past. Archaeology really is powerful in the way it can connect people both with each other, through a shared sense of discovery, and with the people who lived before us. 

We are extremely grateful for the support of the Culture and Wellbeing Fund in enabling us to pilot using archaeology for social prescribing. The funding has helped us demonstrate the power of taking part in archaeology to improve well-being and will enable us to continue expanding the project to benefit as many people across the city as possible.” 

Archaeology on Prescription has provided rich insights into the running and results of the project and will allow the team to make a series of recommendations for similar, future projects. The scheme has already been extended into 2022 through the Government’s Community Renewal Fund, and further development of the project is expected. 

Cultural Wellbeing Grants Support Converge Connected Project

As part of York’s Culture Strategy, Make It York, York CVS and City of York Council have come together to award funding of more than £60,000 to nineteen social and cultural initiatives across the city – with the aim of easing loneliness, isolation, and mental ill-health across the city. 

The grants, which were made available via the Better Care Fund and Ways to Wellbeing, were set up in recognition of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on people’s wellbeing – through shielding, self-isolation, and social distancing. This series of case studies profiles each of the 2021 recipients: 

One of the projects which has been supported by the grants is Converge Connected – a cultural education programme with York St John University which offers remote access learning to adults with mental health issues, who use local mental health services.  

A team at York St John University visited interested students in the run up to the project to find out about their interests, it’s from here that a small selection of courses were made available for students to take part in. 

Over 28 weeks of zoom sessions, 86 students then took part in the Converge Connected courses, with tutors recalling high levels of engagement from the students which led to many high-quality debates and discussions.  

With these courses taking place primarily online, new systems to assist any student feeling distressed or unwell during the course needed to be developed. Break out rooms were created to provide short breaks for students and ensure any welfare issues were addressed, whilst volunteers kept the rest of the class settled and focused.  

Volunteers for the project were recruited from the student body at York St John to support tutors in classes and to bring their own expertise to classes. Eight student volunteers were involved, including postgraduate and undergraduate students from Creative Writing, Art and Music and Occupational Health and Nursing degrees. Students were offered two training sessions before the project began: one on mental health awareness,  another on boundaries and building rapport with students. 

For students who struggled with technology, or didn’t have access to suitable technology, materials and letters were posted to aid with their learning. One of these students said, “I felt so left behind, especially during the pandemic. I can’t go online; I’m terrified of scammers and honestly, it’s hard for me to understand how to use it. But I eagerly await the next package of materials and the letters from my tutor are so helpful and kind, and I feel like I’m part of something again.” 

Participants of Converge Connected spoke highly of the course as it offered them social elements that they felt they were lacking from their own life for reasons of isolation, disability, and social anxiety. Evaluations show that students felt their confidence improved, they made many social connections and looked forward to classes, with some citing them as the “highlight in their week.” 

Nick Rowe, Professor of Arts and Mental Health at York St John University and Director of Converge Connected, said, “In common with many projects, we developed online and postal courses during the Covid lockdown. We are very grateful to the Culture and Wellbeing Fund for their support; this enabled us to continue to develop our courses into what we now call, Converge Connected. 

Our participants vary widely in terms of previous educational experience and interests but are united by a strong desire to enrich their lives through learning. Many of them are taking early steps towards more social contact after periods of isolation due to ill health or disability. Others are further along in recovery but didn’t feel ready to re-join in-person classes. With the help of the funding, we have been able to offer a growing number of courses and individual sessions.” 

Following the success of this project, Converge Connected are looking to create a ‘Summer School’ of short taster courses over the summer for new students looking to join in October. They’ll also be a collection of ‘mini-courses’ – packages of learning on the York St John Online Classroom with email interaction with tutors. This will help students expand their studies, build confidence for future courses and carrying on learning during vacation times. You can find out more about future projects at www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge 

Applications are open for Cultural Wellbeing Grants 2022 

York-based charities, social enterprises, voluntary and community groups are being urged to apply for the 2022 Cultural Wellbeing Grants, with an overall fund of £30,000 available. In a collaboration between Make It York and City of York Council, with funding made available via the Better Care Fund, organisations are being invited to apply to grants up to £5,000 to aid initiatives throughout the city which will reduce loneliness and isolation and combat mental ill-health.  

With applications open until Friday 20th May 2022, organisations can apply for funding to help engage isolated people in their communities through cultural engagement to combat mental ill-health, improve physical health, or access employment and learning opportunities. Funding can be used for a wide range of project costs – including everything from materials and venue hire to set up costs, marketing, transport and administration time. 

Last year, nineteen different charities, social enterprises and community groups benefitted from the cultural and social prescribing grants funding from Make It York, City of York Council and York CVS. Spanning a diverse range of creative art forms and social activities, the grants supported everything from fairy trails and community coffee mornings to excavation projects, craft workshops and creative cafes in the city.  

Helen Apsey, Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Make It York said: “The Cultural Wellbeing Grants are a really important scheme, which support local organisations, groups and people, through funding for creative and cultural initiatives to support residents’ health and wellbeing. This focus on wellbeing is at the heart of York’s Culture Strategy, so we’re really grateful to be able to run the programme again this year, with funding from the Better Care Fund, alongside City of York Council.  

“Last year saw us supporting a wide range of projects, from theatre workshops for people affected by isolation, weekly music, movement and social sessions for adults with complex needs, through to coordinating green organisations to increase the number of people engaging with creative nature opportunities – and we’re looking forward to continuing to support many more projects through this year’s grants scheme.” 

Cllr Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities at City of York Council said: “The Cultural Wellbeing Grants programme will build on the city’s fantastic work in tackling isolation and supporting mental health across our city.  These grants will be supporting York’s voluntary sector as our communities continue to recover from the pandemic. We look forward to a variety of different applications this year, with the wellbeing being at their core.” 

END 

For more information: 

Brittany Guymer, Communications Executive at Make It York 

Comms@makeityork.com 

Notes to Editors: 

Further information and the application form for the Cultural Wellbeing grants can be found here – https://www.makeityork.com/culture/cultural-wellbeing-grants  

Application forms must be completed and submitted by 9am on Friday 20th May 2022 to be considered. These will be assessed and shortlisted applications will be contacted by Friday 27th May 2022.  

If you have any queries or need support to apply, please email: Carl.wain@york.gov.uk  

About Make It York 

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our corporate strategic priorities.   

These are:  

  • City positioning and profile-raising 
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre 
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Culture Strategy 

York Music Venue Network Praises YorkLife Festival

York’s Parliament St hosted a new metropolitan festival last weekend celebrating the creativity and culture of the city, in an unprecedented special event curated by Make It York with the York Music Venue Network. 

YorkLife featured over 30 acts, musicians and interactive workshops over Saturday and Sunday, including the YorkLive music stage, which brought together some of the best local talents from across the many grassroots music venues in the city, and all local production teams.

The festival arena, which had been created especially for the event, featured a YorkGin bar, stretch tent and poster barrels highlighting listings and gig posters for the 6 venues that make up York Music Venue Network – The Crescent, The Fulford Arms, National Centre for Early Music, The York Vaults, York Barbican & FortyFive Vinyl Cafe. 

Despite varied weather, the event was busy throughout the weekend with both festival headliners Huge and The Howl & The Hum, playing to a packed Parliament St crowd who were enjoying the return of live music to the City’s streets.

Chris Sherrington from York Music Venue Network said “It’s been a truly wonderful weekend delivering an event that celebrates the amazing talent and creativity that York has to offer both on stage and behind the scenes. The event was made possible by City of York Council support and it has been wonderful to work with Make It York and Reel Productions to highlight that the local music scene is back and flourishing. Seeing families enjoy the workshops, audiences appreciating the wide programme of music and artists back on stage, playing in their home city was incredibly moving and I hope we can do it again soon. We would love to see everyone’s memories of the weekend on social media #YorkLife and thank everyone for their support.”

Big Ian from Saturday night headliner, Huge said “What a wonderful event to bring all generations together to sing with one voice. It shows the difference that people can make when venues all share their passion and expertise.This shows just how live music is so important. 32 years after first performing in York city centre it showed us why you should never hang up your guitar!”

Tom Beer from York Alt-rockers “Bull” said “The YorkLife event was a triumph! Well run by a team of excellent local dedicated music scene heroes, a free event for the people of York, an opportunity for York musicians to play in front of new and larger audiences. It was such a diverse audience, bringing the people of York closer together, & thoroughly enjoyed by all of us performing. State of the art sound and lighting, a professional experience which attracted many to York for a positive and celebratory reason as well as providing young and old York residents with an unforgettable weekend of fun and wonder!”

Bradley Blackwell from The Howl & The Hum said: “This festival was on par, if not better than, any festival, domestically or internationally, we’ve had the honour to play. The lineup, the setting, the organisation and the crew were all of the highest quality, and we’d love to play it again”

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York says We wanted YorkLife to be a celebration of local York talent and culture, from our street musicians to our local community groups and it definitely was! It was amazing to see our residents coming together to really celebrate the sense of community in York and see some of the hottest talent York has to offer. We thank the York Music Venue Network for working so closely with us on YorkLife and we’re looking forward to further opportunities where we can come together and support our local talent.”

Throughout the day, there was also an array of interactive sessions held by local organisations in the city such as circus skills, face painting, comedy, dance and talks from the Festival of Ideas, all to inspire creativity and showcase the amazing creative businesses around York.

Full programme announced for YorkLife Festival 

The full programme has been announced for York’s inaugural YorkLife Festival, which will see over 30 local performers and organisations come together on Parliament Street on the 2nd and 3rd April.  

Organised by Make It York, with support from the City of York Council’s ARG funding, the programme of events for YorkLife has been curated with York residents in mind, supporting local talent across the city and bringing the festival feel to York this spring. The weekend will showcase a programme of family friendly workshops, as well as stellar line-up of musical performances from the likes of The Howl and The Hum and Huge. 

There will be a full schedule of workshops throughout the weekend, from theatre to music. The full workshop programme includes:  

Saturday 2nd April – Workshops:  

  • 11.00 – 11.45: Drumming with Mark BarfootA fun and inclusive drumming session for children and families using a mixture of djembe drums and hand percussion. 
  • 12.00 – 12.45: Storytelling with Mud Pie Arts Meet Jenna, author of Cloud Tales, as you hear stories of lonely dragons and desperate dogs mixed with plenty of dressing up and fun improvisation activities.  
  • 13.00 – 13.45: Thunk-it TheatreExplore the process of creating your own dream city through drama, singing and crafting, perfect for anyone aged 4-11. 
  • 14.00 – 14.45: York Wire Skylines with Gemma Wood York Join Gemma Wood, a York-based visual artist, as you’re immersed and transformed into the depths of your curiosity. 
  • 15.00 – 15.45: YorkMix Quiz – Ben and Laura will be bringing their much-loved Game Wheel live to YorkLife, giving you a chance to win some incredible prizes. 
  • 16.00 – 16.45: The Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts A fun taster session for young budding singers, dancers, actors or filmmakers in this PQA session. 
  • 17.00 – 17.45: The JORVIK Viking Takeover – A 45-minute interactive presentation about various aspects of Viking life in the 10th century. 
  • 18.15 – 19.45: Burning Duck Comedy Club Presents Stepping out of The Crescent, Burning Duck Comedy brings you 90 minutes of Live, back-to-back comedy. 

Sunday 3rd April – Workshops:  

  • 11.00 – 11.45: York Wire Skylines with Gemma Wood Join Gemma Wood, a York-based visual artist, as your immersed and transformed into the depths of your curiosity. 
  • 12.00 – 12.45: Ukulele Workshop with Christian TopmanJoin Christian Topman, co-founder of the arts barge project and bass player, to learn how to play fun tunes on the Ukulele. 
  • 13.00 – 13.45: Thunk-It Theatre Explore the process of creating your own dream city through drama, singing and crafting, perfect for anyone aged 4-11. 
  • 14.00 – 14.45 York Festival of Ideas Prepare to be inspired as you enjoy a preview of York Festival of Ideas, one of the largest free festivals of its kind in the UK. From mind-reading to crime and punishment, and the bass guitar to plasma, don’t miss a range of interactive talks. 
  • 15.00 – 15.45: Say Owt Poetry Workshop Meet Henry Raby, a York-based performance poet, as he teaches you how to make quick and fun poetry and become craftier with your words. 
  • 16.00 – 16.45: Beatboxing with Matty GrooveIn this exclusive workshop, Matty will share his knowledge and secret techniques into the unusual art of beatbox. 
  • 17.00 – 18.00 – London Magician and Card Reader, Chris Wall Be amazed with a 60-minute performance from Chris Wall and his mind-reading magic!  
  • 18.15 – 19.45: Say Owt Back-to-Back PerformanceSay Owt present a back-to-back poetry slam from their collective of ‘gobby northern poets’. 

There’ll also be all-day face painting across the weekend with Fantastic Faces, whose expert team of face and body artists are providing a series of face painting, body painting and henna from 11:00 to 17:00. 

‘Circus Workshops’ are also taking place throughout the weekend, including fun skill-building challenges such as unicycling, juggling and various other fun circus skills. A great family-friendly way to share moments and build memories.  

The main YorkLive Stage on Parliament Street will be showcasing live music by talented local artists  from afternoon to evenings, as curated by York’s Music Venue Network. The full YorkLive programme includes:  

Saturday 2nd April – Live Music: 

14:30 – Marnie Glum 

15.30 – Pennine Suite 

16.30 – Wounded Bear  

17.30 – Flatcap Carnival 

18.30 – Kitty VR  

19.30 – HUGE  

Sunday 3rd April – Live Music: 

15.00 – Bargestra 

16.00 – Floral Pattern  

17.00 – Hyde Family Jam  

18.00 – Trueman & The Indoor League  

19.00 – Bull  

20.00 – The Howl & The Hum  

There’ll also be two dance flashmobs taking place on Sunday, courtesy of the Big City Flashmob and York Dance Space. Learn the choreography on the YorkLive stage at 12:00 on Sunday to be able to take part in either of the two flashmobs on Parliament Street at 12.45 or St Helen’s Square at 13.30. There’s also a tutorial video to learn the moves here.  

The main stage will be located on Parliament Street, with an open viewing area that holds a capacity of 500 people. The workshop and performance tent will be located at the end of Parliament Street, near St Sampson’s Square, and can hold up to 100 capacity. There will also be a covered stretch tent, which will hold a York Gin bar and seating area. The stretch tent holds a further 90 people, on a one-in-one-out policy.  

YorkLife is organised by Make It York, with support from the City of York Council’s ARG funding – which aims to support businesses impacted by Covid-19. The programme of events for YorkLife has been curated with York residents in mind and to support the city’s recovery from Covid. 

Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities, said: “Our cultural sector is the life-blood of our communities. There is so much local talent in York, from musicians to comedians and poets to performers, which make our city so vibrant and unique. YorkLife is an excellent way to celebrate our home-grown musicians and performers, particularly after what have been a challenging few years for us all. I would encourage residents to join the festival and enjoy the best of York’s own local talent.” 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York said: “YorkLife is a celebration of local York talent and culture, from our street musicians to our local community groups. We want to really celebrate the sense of community in York and we’re encouraging residents to come join the party and see some of the hottest talent York has to offer.” 

Chris Sherrington, Music Venue Co-Owner and a member of York Music Venue Network, said: “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to showcase some of York’s amazingly talented artists who have developed their careers across the city of York’s many great grassroots music venues. As part of YorkLife weekend, we are looking forward to celebrating the return of live music to the city and enjoying the wonderful variety of music for one and all. This event has been a true cooperative effort of York’s event industry and creatives and we look forward to working on future events.” 

This is a free event and there is no need to book tickets in advance. 

Find out more about YorkLife Festival at visityork.org/yorklife #YorkLife 

For more information, please contact: 

Brittany Guymer 

Communications Executive at Make It York 

Comms@makeityork.com 

Notes to Editors 

YorkLife  is taking place on the 2nd – 3rd April between 11:00 and 21:00 on Parliament Street. This is a free open event organised by Make It York, with the support of City of York Council’s ARG funding.  

About Make It York 

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our corporate strategic priorities.   

These are:  

  • City positioning and profile-raising 
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre 
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy 

Over 30 acts, musicians and interactive workshops announced for York’s new Spring festival, YorkLife 

A new spring festival is being brought to York this April to showcase local talent in the city in the form of musicians, performers, comedians and much more. Organised by Make It York, YorkLife will see over 30 local performers and organisations join together on Parliament Street over the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd April for residents to enjoy.

Festival headliners include Huge, who for the last 30 years have been filling dance floors and theatres across York, will be bringing the party to Saturday night. Closing the festival Sunday night will be home-grown talent The Howl & The Hum, who recently graced the stage of York Minster and celebrated a sell-out 2-night residency at The Brudenell. They headline the main “YorkLive” stage which hosts a programme curated by York’s Music Venue Network showcasing local artists, including Bull, Kitty VR, Flatcap Carnival, Hyde Family Jam & many more.

There’ll also be an array of interactive sessions held by local organisations in the city such as theatre workshops, instrumental workshops, face painting, comedy and dance performances, as well as fire performers and local circus acts to really bring the festival feel to York this spring and celebrate York residents.

The main stage will be located on Parliament Street, with an open viewing area that holds a capacity of 500 people. There will also be a covered stretch tent, which will hold a York Gin bar and seating area. The stretch tent holds a further 90 people, on a one-in-one-out policy. This is a free event and there is no need to book tickets in advance. 

YorkLife is organised by Make It York, with support from the City of York Council’s ARG funding – which aims to support businesses impacted by Covid-19. The programme of events for YorkLife has been curated with York residents in mind and to support the city’s recovery from Covid.

Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities, said: “Our cultural sector is the life-blood of our communities. There is so much local talent in York, from musicians to comedians and poets to performers, which make our city so vibrant and unique. YorkLife is an excellent way to celebrate our home-grown musicians and performers, particularly after what has been a challenging few years for us all. I would encourage residents to join the festival and enjoy the best of York’s own local talent.”

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York said: “YorkLife is a celebration of local York talent and culture, from our street musicians to our local community groups. We want to really celebrate the sense of community in York and we’re encouraging residents to come join the party and see some of the hottest talent York has to offer.”

Chris Sherrington, Music Venue Co-Owner and a member of York Music Venue Network, said: “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to showcase some of York’s amazingly talented artists who have developed their careers across the city of York’s many great grassroots music venues. As part of YorkLife weekend, we are looking forward to celebrating the return of live music to the city and enjoying the wonderful variety of music for one and all. This event has been a true cooperative effort of York’s event industry and creatives and we look forward to working on future events.”

Find out more about YorkLife at visityork.org/yorklife #YorkLife

The full line-up for YorkLife will be announced later in March 

For more information, please contact:

Brittany Guymer

Communications Executive at Make It York

Comms@makeityork.com

Notes to Editors

YorkLife  is taking place on the 2nd – 3rd April between 11am and 9pm on Parliament Street. This is a free open event organised by Make It York, with the support of City of York Council’s ARG funding. 

About Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our corporate strategic priorities.  

These are: 

  • City positioning and profile-raising
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy

Full line-up to be announced soon. Confirmed acts and workshop include: 

Workshops:

Mud Pie Arts – Interactive Storytelling Cloud Tales

Thunk It Theatre – Build Our City Theatre Workshop 

Gemma Wood – Art ‘York Skyline’

Fantastic Faces – Facepainting 

York Mix Radio – Quiz 

York Dance Space – Dance Performance

Burning Duck Comedy Club – Comedy night 

Henry Raby from Say Owt – Spoken Poetry 

Matt Barfoot – Drumming Workshop 

Christian Topman – Ukulele Workshop 

Polly Bennet – Little Vikings PQA Performing Arts Workshop 

Innovation Entertainment – Circus Workshops 

Musicians

The Howl & The Hum 

Huge

Bull

Kitty VR

Flatcap Carnival 

Hyde Family Jam 

Floral Pattern

Bargestra

Wounded Bear

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