The impact that culture and the many activities associated with it can have on people and communities is central to everything that we do at Hampshire Cultural Trust. We run projects and programmes across Hampshire, working with communities and individuals, with the old and young, with the hard-to-reach and vulnerable.
In 2019, we embarked on a partnership with the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, Combat Stress, to deliver creative wellbeing workshops at Aldershot Military Museum.
The project, which ran over 20 sessions in the spring and autumn, provided an opportunity for participants to view and handle objects from the museum’s collections, ranging from military medals to part of an aircraft propeller thought to be from the plane of local hero and pilot, Samuel Cody. The objects were used as a basis to explore memories, experiences, hopes for recovery and positive wellbeing. As well as discussion and social encounters, the veterans were given time and guidance to put together creative responses arising from the object handling as a way of contributing to their own mental wellbeing.
The work produced by the veterans ranged from artwork to poetry and even model making. To celebrate their achievements, Aldershot Military Museum is hosting a display of some of the responses together with the objects that inspired them.
Feedback from the sessions focussed on the development of friendships and the enjoyment the participants had exploring their creative side. One participant, who took part via Skype, explained the impact that the sessions had had on his wellbeing:
I was hoping to gain some therapeutic value from creative artistic activities, but I was not expecting any meaningful social contact through the Skype link. In practice, I found that I was enjoying the social aspects of experience, and I found myself looking forward to the weekly meetings with my friends.
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