Published on: 12 June 2019

A Chesterfield-based art group for carers of people with mental health issues has donated paintings to brighten up one of Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s bases in the town.

Reception and office areas at Bayheath House, location for the Chesterfield Central Neighbourhood Team in Rose Hill West, Chesterfield, now look a lot more appealing thanks to the work of the town’s Mental Health Carers’ Art Group.

The art group meets every Friday from 10.30am–12.30pm at Chesterfield Labour Club, in Saltergate, Chesterfield, and members are encouraged to use the group to express themselves – even if they begin by saying they can’t draw.

Karen Wheeler, OT Lead and Professional Lead for Chesterfield Neighbourhood and Central, said: “At a service user and carer engagement meeting, members of the art group suggested that theybayheath-house-picture-1.JPG would love to contribute to enhancing the environment of the waiting room. The local staff worked closely with the carers and our estates team to make this possible.” 

Jo Slinn, Admin Manager at Bayheath House, was involved in the major task of organising and hanging the artwork, with subjects ranging from still life and landscape to an impressive series documenting a recovery journey.

Two hours of respite

Malcolm Grieve runs the art group, which he started about four years ago with the aim of encouraging any carers who enjoy, or might enjoy, creative work which would also give them some relief from their caring responsibilities.

He said: “The group offers two hours of respite and everyone is really encouraging. When we were asked if we would like to contribute some pictures to Bayheath House, of course we said yes. Staff here have supported us, and we would hope to spread this sort of activity elsewhere in the Trust. 

“All the evidence is that when patients and carers engage in this sort of activity, people’s mental health and wellbeing improves, so that’s the message we want to get across. I really want to push the importance of art as a therapy.”

One participant commented: “The group is a chance to express yourself without being judged. We all have different views on the way that we do things. Some of us dabble but sometimes they turn out right and sometimes they don’t. And it doesn’t matter of you can’t draw or can’t paint. Nobody will push you to do more than you want to.” 

'Everybody can draw'

Participants at the group do not have to have a history of artistic endeavour. Malcolm said: “I hope that the group will appeal to people who have been told at an early age that they can’t draw. Some of our members were told that at school and we are trying to turn that around; everybody can draw.”

A member said: “You can vary what you do according to how you feel. If you want to take on a challenging picture you can, or you can just do something simple. You can even do nothing at all, just enjoy the supportive atmosphere and talking together. The support that Malcolm provides and the support from each other is so valuable. When you hold up your work, everyone gives you really positive feedback, everyone finds something positive to say.” 

Another commented: “I still get days when I think I’ve had enough, but here at the art group, somebody will always ask how I am and it picks me up.”

Participants in the group do not need to book, just turn up, and come with a friend if that helps. There is no need to bring any equipment, just enthusiasm for art. For more information contact Malcolm on