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Community Arts Hub opens at hospital to encourage better mental health  

Mayor officially opens community hub

A North Warwickshire hospital is using the arts to help boost mental health and wellbeing in its local area following the grand opening of its community hub on Thursday (September 6).

The George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton is home to the town’s Men in Sheds group and they raised and contributed to the funding for the new hub, which will act as their headquarters and will be opened up to other arts and craft-based community groups in the area.

The Worshipful the Mayor of Nuneaton and Bedworth, Councillor Chris Watkins, cut the ribbon on the new facility at a special celebration to highlight the work of these hospital volunteers. Friends and family, members of community groups and representatives from the hospital gathered at the hub, which will hopefully attract more opportunities for people to enjoy all the health benefits that being creative can bring.

“The Community Hub and the Men in Sheds group really highlights a holistic approach to health care where the arts can play a huge part in people’s wellbeing,” said George Eliot Hospital’s arts coordinator, Luke Veasey.

“That’s something we’re really looking to do with this space, and working with our community partners we want to introduce things like craft groups for both staff and our service users. It’s something that can really be used to boost the health and wellbeing for the wider community. 

“Of course, the shed isn’t the finished product and we do need to raise more money to make further improvements to the hub itself, and for materials for future projects, so that more people can have this important creative outlet and social contact.”

Claire Campbell, George Eliot Hospital’s director of governance and the executive lead for the hospital’s arts programme added: “The Men in Sheds bring a wealth of experience to the hospital and we really do appreciate what they do.

“It’s a good opportunity from a health perspective to have people come together for a few hours each week, have a cup of tea, socialise, meet new friends, share their skills and give purpose to those within our community who may otherwise be subject to social isolation and loneliness.

“It’s just one reason why the hospital wanted to support this.”

The Men in Sheds group meets twice a week to learn and share new skills, undertake projects together in a safe and social environment.

The opening of the new hub means that George Eliot Hospital is ahead of the curve when it comes to new NHS recommendations for social prescribing, which enables GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals to refer people to ‘services’ in their community, to give patients a rounded approach to treatments instead of relying on  medicalised ‘prescribed’ solutions alone.

Following a boost in funding from the Big Lotter y, much of the funding for the hub also came from local and county businesses donations from firms such as the Coventry building society, the Cooperative and Asda in Nuneaton, and through sales of the woodcraft pieces the group has made.

Founding member of Men in Sheds, Barry Chinn, added: “A really big thank you must go to everyone that donated to the project – even those that gave their fifty pences on the markets we’ve collected have gone to help us achieve this.  We’ve gone from a little dwelling to this, and to now be able to share it with the community as well is the cherry on the cake.”

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