Case Studies

Borderland Voices

  • Artist(s):
    We use a pool of artists, but we are always looking for new artists to bring new perspectives, ideas and skills
  • Artform(s):
    Various visual art and creative writing forms
  • Funder(s):
    Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Moorlands Housing
  • Venue(s):
    55-57 Queens Drive, Leek
  • Duration:
  • Health Need(s):
    Adult mental health service users
Borderland Voices is a community arts and mental health group which offers weekly arts sessions for people in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Project Information

Borderland Voices is a community arts and mental health group which offers weekly arts sessions for people in the Staffordshire Moorlands. The project supports people experiencing mental health issues and raises mental health awareness in the community.

The group is grant dependent and for over 10 years has delivered sessions in the local community. Currently, it operates two groups, each for up to twelve people - creative writing and expressive arts. The activities offered constantly change to suit the needs and interests of participants. In the morning creative writing session, a professional writer works with the group creating prose and poetry on a wide range of topics. In the expressive arts session, participants have experienced a wide range of media from ceramics, willow, felting, painting and drawing to animation.

Participants can self refer or people are referred by health professionals and local support groups. Participants may experience mental health issues, be older people or be experiencing circumstances which isolate them from the wider community but anyone can participate if they feel they would benefit from being part of an arts group.

The group wants to raise awareness of mental health and much of what is created is shared with the wider community. The writing group publishes a quarterly anthology, which is distributed to local cafes, and the expressive arts group mounts exhibitions and has formed links with other organisations. For example, a partnership with Rethink led to some joint environmental arts sessions. A recent graduate and long-term participants have also led sessions in their specialist skills.

Participants’ evaluation indicates that they feel they get a lot from the group. They support one another, both within sessions and at other times during the week, and for many it is a lifeline enabling them to become part of the local community. Both the arts and the regularity of the sessions provide a security and a space for expression for participants, and in turn they have reported improved wellbeing and a sense of pride in what they have created.

Click here to read more about the project.

Local district and town Councillor: "Their work is vital to combat austerity with so many finding it hard to cope."