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Mansfield Museum Arts Scheme To Support Domestic Abuse Survivors

10th December 2021
Mansfield

Mansfield Museum Arts Scheme To Support Domestic Abuse Survivors

Creative Women Together will be a therapeutic project that will see women at risk develop an understanding of fine art through engaging with the museum’s collection of ceramics, paintings and jewellery over the next two years, starting in the new year.

The news comes during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international campaign that runs until 10 December.

Mansfield District Council lit up the Bentinck Memorial in the Market Place orange on White Ribbon Day - 25 November - in support of the campaign.   

The project will involve women appreciating and understanding more about the items in the collection and participating in creative activities to develop their own artistic work. 

The sessions, which it is hoped will help about 50 women already identified by support services, will take place in libraries, community halls, family hubs and social spaces around the district as well as at the museum itself.   

Creative Women Together is being funded by a grant of £89,680 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, a charity that aims to strengthen bonds in communities in the UK. 

It is the first time the museum has been involved in a scheme of this kind and it is part of an ongoing Mansfield District Council Cultural Services programme of ‘arts on prescription’ to help address health and wellbeing challenges in the district. 

Monthly hands-on arts sessions, co-curated creative opportunities, and weekly social groups, will include sessions with an art therapist and a freelance artist and will be led by a council Community Engagement Officer who will also monitor and evaluate the progress of the project. 

Staff working on the project will be offered free support and training by Mansfield District Council to ensure they can cope with the emotional burden of issues addressed in this work and that they can safeguard those taking part. 

It is hoped that the scheme will lead to employment, apprenticeship and volunteering opportunities for a number of the participants as a legacy of the project. 

Jodie Henshaw, the Museum Curator, who has worked at the museum for 19 years, will be leading the scheme. 

She said: “We have always managed the museum as a progressive, interdisciplinary community space and community asset that has heritage and education driving its programmes.

 “Creative Women Together will provide a healing journey for some of our most vulnerable citizens, a journey that is caring, loving, and non-judgemental. 

“Participants will be able to overcome barriers and explore their emotions by building their confidence and self-esteem. We hope they also make new connections and friends along the way.” 

Cllr Marion Bradshaw, Portfolio Holder for Safer Communities, Housing and Wellbeing, said: “Sadly in Mansfield too many women experience domestic violence, abuse and trauma. 

“This can leave them facing long-term problems and feeling trapped in a vicious circle of very low self-esteem and poor mental and physical health. We hope this project will enable them to feel better about themselves and feel empowered to take positive control in their lives.” 

David Evans, Head of Health and Communities at the council, added: “Mansfield is in the lowest 20% of all local authorities in England for cultural engagement and highest 20% of most deprived districts in the country. 

“As a council, we are keen to address this and we are now seeing renewed investment in the arts and culture in Mansfield, specifically in areas of health and wellbeing and social prescribing, delivered in partnership with NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). 

“This work connects with a wider set of Wellbeing priorities, in which the council is involved, to deliver schemes to alleviate food insecurity and projects around smoking, low level addictions and mental health.”

The project will work with various partners including local charity NIDAS (Nottinghamshire Independent Domestic Abuse Service) and Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid which will help the museum support and engage with vulnerable and at risk women. 

Also supporting the scheme will be Jigsaw, a mental health and dementia charity, helping people with a range of hoarding addictions; Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Support Services; and Changing Lives, which works with women with experience of the criminal justice system in Nottinghamshire. 

Mansfield Museum has significant experience in delivering health and wellbeing projects, including its annual Health and Wellbeing Festival, which aims to kick start a healthier way of living, and its Reminiscence Tea Room, which connects people with memory loss to objects, photos and music. 

It also ran another social prescribing project this year called Making a Start, which helped vulnerable people who had been shielding during the pandemic, re-emerge from the social isolation of their lockdown and make new friends.    

Find out more about domestic violence and abuse and how to report it at www.mansfield.gov.uk/community-safety-crime/report-domestic-violence-abuse. 

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