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Success after a long wait

I work as an artist in a hospital for people who have been in contact with Mental Health Services, Autism and Learning Disabilities.

In my area of work, we have been involved with Koestler Arts Trust for many years and we enter artwork produced in arts and crafts sessions within the hospital studios to the Annual Koestler Competition.

I have been fortunate enough to see a great development of creativity and skill development in our Service Users over the years. One in particular, has a unique uninhibited drawing style. These drawings express a lot of emotive elements with very energetic compositions.

The Service User who also receives music sessions at the hospital, thrives on singing and rapping his ad-lib lyrics has also entered his music in to the Koestler Competition. With a limit of five pieces per person, the Service User would decide on entering music and drawing into the competition. One year, the Service User said he would like to enter five of his drawings and leave the music so he could stand more of a chance at receiving a hopeful top award.

When the results of the Koestler Competition came through, The Service User had received a Commended award with written feedback. This was not what he had hoped for however, with encouragement and support from Staff at the hospital, the Service User accepted the results well.

The next annual Competition, the Service User was  determined to get his work seen and understood. He entered another five pieces of drawing into the competition, leaving his music for another time.

When I saw the results online, I could not wait to tell him that he had won a Gold Award and Highly Commended with excellent feedback. When I did get the chance to tell him, my eyes welled up to see him jump for joy and fist-pump the air shouting “get in!!!!”

We have an in-house awards presentation at the hospital for all the Service Users who have entered their artwork into the competition with projected imagery of artwork and a showcase of achievement for staff and Service Users to experience.

We believe Arts in Healthcare not only is a catalyst to wellbeing, it is also a celebration of achievement, a distraction, confidence-building and a pathway to recovery and hope.

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