Converge brightens hospital spaces with creativity to boost patient wellbeing
Published: 22 February 2023
A vivid taste of the seaside has been brought to Foss Park Hospital thanks to York St John University’s pioneering community arts project Converge.
York may be 40 miles from the nearest beach but a striking seaside scene – complete with sun, sea, sand and a rainbow has been created to brighten up Ebor Ward.
The mural is the latest creative addition from the Converge Arts Strategy at Foss Park, a state-of-the-art mental health hospital and research space in York. Ideas for the designs are put forward during hospital community sessions. Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) staff and volunteers, Converge artists – including people with lived experience of mental ill health – and lecturers from York St John University all help to plan each display.
“We had an absolutely ace day painting. It was all about singing and happiness and chatting about our seaside experiences,” said the Trust’s Art and Design Development Manager Griselda Goldsbrough.
“Patients and staff got involved, and we had music to dance to as we painted the waves. This is a mural filled with things to make you feel calm and happy – and a rainbow for hope as well.”
Drawing on artistic talents
Converge offers free educational courses to local adults with experience of mental health challenges – usually hosted by York St John University – and taught by people with expertise or lived experience of mental ill health. Founded in 2008 at York St John University, the Converge programme has also run at Northumbria University in Newcastle since 2016.
Foss Park has been working with Converge since 2021, to create rolling creative arts exhibitions in the main reception area – as well as artwork around the wards.
“It is a true pleasure to be in partnership with Converge,” said Dr Liz Herring, North Yorkshire and York Adult Mental Health General Manager for TEWV.
“The continued scale of the artwork at Foss Park, and its achievement to connect with our patients, is just amazing.
“Our work with Converge is not only making our hospital brighter and more welcoming, but there is a significant benefit to the well-being of our patients and staff as well.”
Art helps cheer hospital patients
The latest mural at Ebor Ward follows on from an artwork created on Minster Ward just before Christmas, which was painted as part of the Foss Park Creative project.
The Minster mural was inspired by what patients see as reflecting their ideas of sanctuary and forms part of a wider exhibition on the same theme at the hospital.
“It was based on ideas from patients and the artwork was created by patients, staff and volunteers,” said Lucy Coleman, Converge Foss Park Arts and Music Coordinator.
“It is important that we all work together. By bringing the arts into the hospital, it helps bring in a bit of the outside – and allows people to express themselves in different ways.
“In some ways art can help change the landscape of the hospital, make it a little less clinical, which makes it more comfortable, I think. Everyone had a great time making the mural.”
Read more about how to access courses with the Converge programme