‘High Street Sparks’ grant success!

Mindful Art Club has secured a grant of £2,430 to run a community arts project based at Moment’s Café. Workshops will explore the heritage of the city centre’s conservation area and will be free to anyone who is struggling with their mental health.

Read more: https://www.theboxplymouth.com/blog/press-release/high-street-sparks-r1

Send us a message if you would like to put your name down for a free place at this new central Plymouth art group.

New Group: Moments Cafe

We are looking forward to hosting 12 weeks of art sessions at Moments Cafe in Plymouth City Centre in the New Year, 2022. This is thanks to funding from The High Streets Heritage Action Zone initiative .

These sessions aim to teach people from diverse backgrounds about the heritage of the conservation area in Plymouth City Centre. We will talk about the history of the various places in the centre, and do an art project based on that subject. For example, we might talk about The Messenger sculpture outside the Theatre Royal, and then ask the participants to design their own sculpture. Another project would be to talk about the history of Royal Parade and bring in some photographs of what it used to look like. At the end of the 12 weeks we will take anyone who wants to go for a walk around the conservation area so we can look at the landmarks as a group.

We know that the residents of Plymouth have suffered during the lockdowns with increased mental health problems and social isolation, and so we want to give people a safe place to connect with other people. Our groups are about meeting new people, being in a supportive group, building confidence, learning new things and having fun. We want to include people from diverse communities in Plymouth and give them a safe space to be creative, have fun and form friendships.

Each session includes five minutes of guided mindfulness, five minutes of mindful drawing, a simple art project, and the opportunity to chat and relax.

“Moments Cafe is a warm, caring, friendly environment for all. The cafe acts as a subconscious support network for a lot of people. The cafe attracts a lot of people who are vulnerable, and they are supported through open conversations and a non-judgmental atmosphere. Moments Cafe want to develop their offer to the community, and have ongoing projects upstairs that will benefit their customers, and our community as a whole. The Mindful Art Club is a great opportunity for both organisations to provide the community with a fun, inclusive, creative and sociable network in a central location in Plymouth.”

Emma Oxland, Moments Café manager.

The High Streets Heritage Action Zone initiative is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s Heritage High Street Fund, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Future High Street Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Book now if you are interested in coming along to these art sessions. Your place will be fully funded, i.e. at no cost to you, but places are limited. These sessions will take place on Friday afternoons.

POP+ Brings the Voluntary Sector Together

We loved meeting so many people from different social enterprises at the Plymouth Octopus Project AGM this week. I was nervous as I have not been networking in a room full of people since before the pandemic! These are strange times….

POP+ works in collaboration with community groups and voluntary sector, non profit organisations with a view to support and strengthen our sector.

60 different organisations joined POP to network and catch up on the extraordinary stories of individuals and organisations in Plymouth these last 18 months. We heard from inspiring community collaborations who showcased their work in the “Voices” marketplace and the keynote speaker Cormac Russell appeared on Zoom from Ireland!

We are so grateful to POP as they have supported Mindful Art Club from the very beginning, with business start-up advice, training in how to write funding applications and recently funding. Read more: POP Funds Our Collective.

How Comic Relief Helped Our Women’s Group

A PR officer from Comic Relief and Groundwork recently got in touch to ask us about the impact their funding had on our group at The Sunflower Women’s Centre.

What issue does the project aim to change/address?

We tackle social isolation and common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

How does the project addresses this issue?

We offer mindful art groups in community venues, often at no cost to the individual client.

Each group lasts for an hour and a half. We start with a “check-in” where everyone gets a chance to say how they are feeling, but there is no obligation to talk if you don’t want to. Then we do five minutes of guided mindfulness. Then we do five minutes of mindful drawing, (which is drawing with our eyes closed!) Then we do a simple art project that anyone can do, and have a chat. At most groups there is an opportunity to get a tea or coffee. Art projects might include making a greeting card, drawing a mandala, mindful doodling (zentangles), or making a collage. Artistic talent is not necessary – it’s about having fun.

What activities or events do you carry out as part of the project?

At the moment we have five weekly groups, three are funded, two we run on a volunteer basis while we seek funding. We also host one day mindful art retreats, and sometimes run an eight week wellbeing course. Sometimes we offer online wellbeing sessions using Zoom.

The Comic Relief Community fund allowed us to deliver 12 weekly mindful art groups at The Sunflower Women’s Centre. The issues being tackled were social isolation and poor mental health. We addressed these problems by using creative activities to make it easier for clients to engage in meaningful conversations.

What impact has the project had on the community? Please provide specific examples or testimonials where possible.

We regularly receive great verbal feedback and written feedback that shows we are reducing social isolation and helping to improve mental health. (Lots of quotes here.)  

“I have found this group very helpful in my recovery. My biggest problem is isolation. So to have this group is a lifeline. I also struggle with substance misuse, although, (thanks to help), I am clean and sober. It is nice to have a space that is non-judgmental where we can check in and connect. I love art anyway, and find it very relaxing and engaging. But it’s so much more therapeutic to do it with others. Many thanks.” – Anna

“Thank you Peggy and Emma for running the mindfulness art group, it has helped me so much and I’ve enjoyed each session. I struggle with anxiety and depression and I’ll miss our groups at Sunflower as it’s helped a lot and has been a great group to be in. Sending much love and hugs to you both. You’re both lovely ladies”. – Vikki

What difference has Comic Relief funding made to the project?

This funding allowed us to run 12 weeks of in-person support groups at the Sunflower Women’s Centre, when lockdown restrictions began to ease in April 2021. 

The Sunflower is a trauma-informed women’s wellbeing hub, providing opportunities for any woman who has support needs.  Women receive support in addressing and resolving substance abuse, childhood trauma, criminogenic behaviours, domestic violence or poor mental health. The centre offers a range of therapeutic activities, accredited programmes and practical support in a safe, nurturing, substance-free and valuing space for women to move from their pasts, develop their skills, regain their self-worth and go on to flourish and thrive. The Sunflower Centre has over 500 registered service users.

What is next for your organisation?

We are currently applying for funding to fund further sessions at The Sunflower Women’s Centre and a follow-on group at Royal William Yard. We have just started a 12 week project offering mindful art groups at a local homelessness charity. We are also running a six week ‘Doodle Your Recovery’ course for Devon Recovery Learning Community. 

Want us to let you know when we start a local group near you? Sign up to our monthly newsletter and get free mindful colouring pages here.

New Group: Shekinah

No talent?

No experience?

No problem!

Our new Mindful Art Club at Shekinah, Plymouth, is for fun and relaxation. Do you remember when you enjoyed art as a child, without judging your ability or results? These easy-going art sessions will help you to deal with anxiety, stress and daily worries.

Friendly and informal. Hosted by local artists Emma Sprawson and Lee Squires. This new group is starting on Tuesday 5th October 2021 at The Shekinah Mission, Bath Street, Plymouth PL1 3LT.

Every Tuesday, 11.00am until 12.30pm

Shekinah is a charity that provides opportunities for people who are experiencing all forms of homelessness and other challenges they maybe currently facing.  As well as therapeutically-based personal development programmes, Shekinah also runs a construction skills programme in Plymouth and horticulture programme in Torbay.  Mental and physical health and wellbeing is central to the aims of Shekinah. They recognise the importance of health and wellbeing if people are going to make improvements in their lives and move off the streets into their own home and hopefully progress into training and employment when they feel able. 

Mindful Art Club are grateful to have received funding from Devon Community Foundation and Shekinah Mission to run these art groups for three months during October, November and December 2021.

POP Funds Our Collective

We are pleased to have been awarded £3000 from the Plymouth Octopus Project to fund our work.

POP Collectives is focussed on building collaboration and relationships by doing something together . This combination of doing and working together is important. What it means is that POP primarily focus on the collaboration, and secondary is the work we do.

The issues our collective are trying to tackle are social isolation and mental health problems. Mindful Art Club offers low cost sessions of coffee, creativity and company online and in community venues like community centres, wellbeing hubs and cafes. 

The five people secretly helping Mindful Art Club behind the scenes.

Our collective consists of seven people working in different organisations in Plymouth; our directors Peggy and Emma, plus five others.

Peggy Melmoth: My business partner. Peggy is my business partner and we met when we were both working at Broadreach. She has had her own business for years doing art commissions and blogging about narrow boats. Therefore, she is experienced in advertising, website design and social media. At the moment she is doing her level 4 in counselling so will be a qualified counsellor in a year. She also has a degree in art. She is a great person to work with as she really cares about people and are different skill sets match each other


Lee Squires: Our volunteer. He is from a Romany gypsy background and didn’t learn to read or write until he was in his thirties. Since then he has been to art college and has exhibited in London with David Bailey and Anna Marie Pachenker. He is a qualified yoga, tai chi and wing tsune teacher and is very involved in the local community.


Clare Lattimore: One of our trustees and was with us when we started MAC. She is now working for Livewell and part of her job description at work is to be Livewell link worker for MAC.


Janet Parfitt: A retired nurse and one of our regular participants. She says that MAC has been a life saver in lockdown for her mental health and to stay connected with people


Paula Carnell: Deputy manager at Sunflower Women’s Centre and is a big supporter of ours. We used to work together at Broadreach and she used to run a art gallery where I exhibited my paintings. We have been running classes at the Sunflower for the past year.


Emma Sprawson: I have a degree in art, a teaching qualification and extensive knowledge of mental health issues. I am very committed to helping people in the community.


Andy Stuart: Works for Real Ideas Organisation and has been helping us with budgets, business advice and ways to take our business forward.

Read more about our collectives aims and ideas. (Links to POP website.)

Join our mailing list to keep in touch and find out how we use this fund to support mental health in Plymouth.

Surprise Donation From Plymouth Art Students

We have just received a generous and unexpected donation from the final year Fine Art students at Plymouth University.

They recently completed their degree show with Plymouth University on the Fine Art course. Prior to lockdown they raised some funds with a bake sale in order to provide them with funds for a suitable venue to host their final degree show.

After searching for a venue, they eventually found one free of charge at the Royal William Yard in Ocean Studios… meaning their funds were still untouched.

So with some funds leftover, they decided as a cohort to donate to a group or charity which they really felt linked with their own work and efforts in their show. A common theme of their work was ‘anxiety’ and ‘mindfulness’ as well as ‘self- awareness’.

So we decided to donate our unused funds to a great cause, I hope this helps in any way possible. I thought it might be nice to give you a back story… Best wishes, all our love,

Fine Art Plymouth Cohort 2021 xx

The ‘Under Current Circumstances’ University of Plymouth
Fine Art Degree Show was from June 20th – June 24th (2021)

You can see their artwork on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/uop_fineart/

On behalf of all of our clients Peggy and Emma would like to thank these fine art graduates for their very kind and unexpected donation.

New Art Groups to Start After Lockdown

Who are Mindful Art Club?

Are they a business, a charity, a CIC or a community group?

And what are they going to do next?!

Mindful Art Club® is an unincorporated association. We have a small group constitution and a management committee. We recently held our annual general meeting to report on the organisation’s activities. The three trustees were present: Emma, Peggy and Clare, and the minutes were circulated to our regular volunteers, Lee and Linda.

First Emma reported on our funding bids. We were unsuccessful in two bids since the last general meeting. However we have been successful in bids with Comic Relief, Sparks Community Fund and have also received £250 from Plymouth Octopus Project. Emma is about to submit another bid to POP and a bid for Arts Council funding to run two groups.

Because of this funding Peggy reported that the following groups will begin after the current lockdown restrictions end.

  1. Sunflower Women’s Centre on Mondays, funded by Comic Relief.
  2. Zoom on Tuesdays funded by individual donations.
  3. Ivybridge Salvation Army to start after lockdown, funded by DRLC
  4. Emma to start a Friday group at The Clipper in Union Street, Plymouth funded by Sparks Community Fund.
  5. Various online courses to be funded by Devon Recovery Learning Community.
  6. Friday afternoons at Ocean Studios to be funded by Community Sparks Fund.
  7. Rees Centre, wellbeing course, Tuesday evenings funded by individuals.

Since our last meeting we have networked with a lot of different community organisations including Devon Mind, the Wolsley Trust social prescribers, Plymouth Argyle, Shekinah Mission, Devon Recovery Learning Community and The Clipper.

We have decided to invest in regular professional supervision meetings with a mindfulness teacher, retreat host and counsellor.

We have written a six week course, Doodle Your Recovery, and a three week course Zen Doodles for DRLC which will be run on Zoom.

We have joined the Loneliness Action Group with Labour councillor Kate Taylor, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care.

We have been featured in The Plymouth Chronicle twice and Emma has been on PTown Radio and Omnium Radio.

We celebrated one year in business with a dinner party, and made a video of it and sent thank you cards as a PR activity. We promoted our anniversary on our website and social media.

And finally, Emma and Peggy have both completed a five week business course called AWE Sofa Sessions with Dartington School of Social Entrepreneurs.  Emma is now going to study the Nuts and Bolts of Business course with them.

To find out about when our next online courses and real life groups are launching join our mailing list now. As a thank you for joining, we’ll instantly send you a mindful colouring bundle with meditative art activities inside, to try at home.

Community Sparks Funds Mindful Art Club

It was great to see ourselves in The Stronger North Stonehouse Journal this month after winning a grant from their Community Sparks Fund to run mindful art groups in Stonehouse, Plymouth.

Stronger North Stonehouse is an initiative bringing local people together to create a stronger, safer and friendlier community in North Stonehouse, Plymouth. The Community Sparks Fund has just funded over 20 projects!

The scheme received 30 funding applications ranging from £150 to the maximum of £3,000.

All applications were assessed by a panel made up of members of the Safer Stonehouse Board and independent judges. The panel was asked to make recommendations based on the merit of the potential impact they could have in the community.

We have been awarded £1000 to deliver two different, weekly art groups in the Stonehouse area. One will be at The Clipper, Omnium Radio’s Community Hub, in Union Street. The other will be at Ocean Studios. Located in the historic surroundings of Royal William Yard, Ocean Studios is home to an array of resident and visiting artists who regularly host workshops, exhibitions and events for Plymouth’s creative community. We are able to work at Ocean Studios thanks to winning a place on the Start Something project, run by the Real Ideas Organisation.

The grant will help us to buy art materials, and market the project so that we can reach as many Stonehouse residents as possible. The funding will also allow us to cover our ongoing costs such as administration, staff time, project planning, insurance, and project impact evaluation.

These Stonehouse venues are large enough to allow socially distanced support groups to take place. Although the UK is currently experiencing a mental health crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, personal finances can be a barrier to local people needing to access support. This grant will help us to offer our services to people struggling with poor mental health, social isolation, poverty or addiction.

If you would like a place in one of these Stonehouse groups, which will be up and running after the current lockdown restrictions end, please contact us now. Places are limited.

Comic Relief to Fund Womens Group

We are pleased to have been granted new funding to offer mindful art sessions to any Plymouth women in need of support.

The Comic Relief Community Fund offer help for projects that are in line with their theme of Mental Health Matters. These are projects that support good mental health in communities, improve access to support and tackle stigma and discrimination.

This funding will allow us to deliver 12 weekly mindful art groups at The Sunflower Women’s Centre. The issues being tackled are social isolation and poor mental health. We address these problems by using creative activities to make it easier for clients to engage in meaningful conversations.

The Sunflower is a trauma-informed women’s wellbeing hub, providing opportunities for any woman who has support needs.  Women receive support in addressing and resolving substance abuse, childhood trauma, criminogenic behaviours, domestic violence or poor mental health. The centre offers a range of therapeutic activities, accredited programmes and practical support in a safe, nurturing, substance-free and valuing space for women to move from their pasts, develop their skills, regain their self-worth and go on to flourish and thrive. The Sunflower Centre has over 500 registered service users.

Mindful Art Club will offer these women peer support for common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. New friendships are formed in our groups which combat social isolation, and we will also teach new skills such as how to use mindfulness and art for self care.

We would not have received this funding without the generous help and support of the staff at The Sunflower Women’s Centre, and the funding advisors at POP. POP ideas is a service delivered by POP+ and Iridescent Ideas CIC that provides advice for small, large, new or established voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in Plymouth. 

Page 10, Plymouth Chronicle January 2021

If you’d like a place on one of these groups after the current lockdown ends, you will need to register with The Sunflower Women’s Centre and ask to be added to the waiting list for Mindful Art Club. Their staff is limited during lockdown, but you can leave a message at 01752 977614 . Groups at The Sunflower Centre are small, socially distanced, and organised with a number of Covid-19 safety measures in place. These sessions are permitted by current law, as support groups.

Here’s what some of our previous clients at The Sunflower Centre have said about us:

“I have found this group very helpful in my recovery. My biggest problem is ISOLATION. So to have this group is a lifeline. I also struggle with substance misuse, although, (thanks to help), I am clean and sober. It is nice to have a space that is non-judgmental where we can check in and connect.
I love art anyway, and find it very relaxing and engaging. But it’s so much more therapeutic to do it with others. Many thanks.”

Anna (Shared with permission).