Seven organisations awarded Cultural Wellbeing Grants 2023 

Seven York-based charities, social enterprises, community groups and individuals have been awarded grant funding by Make It York and City of York Council, made available via the Better Care Fund. The Cultural Wellbeing Grant funding will support a range of initiatives for York residents, which are designed to support mental wellbeing and reduce loneliness and isolation.  

A total of £26,775 was made available for organisations 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. Organisations were invited to apply for grants of up to £6,000 to aid initiatives throughout the city, which will be taking place between Summer 2023 and March 2024.   

The projects that will be funded through the Cultural Wellbeing Grants 2023 are: 

  1. New Visuality – “200 memories Colourised and Chronicled by York’s elders” – reducing loneliness and isolation by creating both an online and physical archive of photographs and memories from elderly community groups, and teaching invaluable digital skills.   
  1. Tang Hall Smart CIC – “Friday Music” – a musical/art programme that will enable those with entrenched difficulties, such as addiction, homelessness and poor mental health, to explore self-expression, creativity and relationship-building.  
  1. ‘The Artery for Health’ led by heritage and cultural learning consultant Karen Merrifield at York Hospital – establishing a programme to provide support and rehabilitation for stroke patients through art therapy and art interventions. 
  1. Accessible Arts and Media – “Movers and Shakers” – providing a social support network through a series of physical sessions such as musical theatre, dancing, singing, playing instruments, writing and storytelling.   
  1. School of Arts and Creative Technologies, University of York – “Supporting refugees through music” – creating opportunities for participation in music/arts workshops to develop personal/group empowerment, belonging and mental wellbeing. 
  1. Converge – “Creative Writing Heals”– supporting marginalised people, and those with ill mental health, to confidently claim their space within York’s cultural offering and improve their sense of community belonging. 
  1. Riding Lights- “Acting Up! Youth Theatre” – creating a safe space for young adults with additional needs or disabilities to socialise, learn and create together through the use of weekly theatre workshops. 

Cllr Jo Coles, Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care at City of York Council, said: “There has been a huge increase in demand for mental health and wellbeing support for residents over recent years. Thank you to all those organisations who applied for grants to enhance the support being provided across the city. These grants will improve access to learning, employment, cultural and creative activities for hundreds more residents, making our city a better, fairer place to live.” 

Helen Apsey, Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Make It York, says: “This year’s Cultural Wellbeing Grant projects reflect the immense breadth and diversity of cultural initiatives taking place in the city to support people’s mental wellbeing. The activities range from creative sessions for refugees in the city, to digital workshops for the elderly, through to a programme of theatre and acting workshops for young adults who feel isolated because of additional needs or disabilities.  

The Cultural Wellbeing Grants are a really important scheme to support residents’ wellbeing, which is at the heart of the York Culture Strategy. It’s a privilege to be able to support these vital initiatives through Make It York.” 


For more information: 

Brittany Guymer, Communication Executive at Make It York 

Notes to Editors: 

Further information for the Cultural Wellbeing grants can be found here: Applications open for Cultural Wellbeing Grants 2023 ( 

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 

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