The Pathways to Wellbeing Programme aimed to promote positive mental health and wellbeing through creative engagement with museums. Since its start in 2016, it has supported over 200 local people living with mental health issues, social isolation and homelessness.

The programme was recently awarded funding from the National Lottery Community Fund and from a new local partner, the St John’s Foundation, to continue and extend its ground-breaking work for a further three years (May 2019 – May 2022).

Pathways to Wellbeing saw local museums, the local Mental Health Trust, Creativity Works and support organisations working in partnership across the city, to offer safe and supportive museum-based creative sessions where people can come together to enjoy arts activities, develop new skills and engage with their local heritage sites.

The Holburne Museum carried out an independent evaluation of Pathways to Wellbeing 2016 to 2019.

The programme consisted of four different strands that participants could join depending on their needs:

The Gardener’s Lodge Art Group

The Gardener’s Lodge Art Group met weekly, offering creative opportunities for people who have been affected by homelessness and associated issues including mental health issues and social isolation.  The group provided a friendly and supportive space in which people could develop their arts skills, be creative and meet other people in a safe environment.

As part of the Pathways to Wellbeing project, the group was able to spend six week blocks at one of Bath Preservation Trust’s museums, at the Holburne Museum and at the American Museum & Gardens exploring the collections and creating their own artistic response. The group also got involved in lots of different art projects and exhibitions in Bath and the local area (including Bath Fringe Arts Festival and exhibitions at Bath Artists’ Studios).

Through these weekly sessions, the group aimed to support people to develop their confidence and self-esteem, their social skills and relationships plus build life-skills such as time organisation, planning, team work and communication. Participation and engagement in arts opportunities both within the museum and wider arts community promoted wellbeing and self-efficacy, and empowered participants.

The group was often facilitated by specialist artists who focus on teaching different skills and techniques.

Pathways to Wellbeing partners are:

  • The Holburne Museum
  • American Museum & Gardens
  • The Andrew Brownsword Gallery, The Edge, University of Bath
  • Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health NHS Partnership Trust
  • Creativity Works