Our Organisation

Our Mission

To provide accessible creative arts activities to improve mental wellbeing and skills so that adults can make the best contribution they can to the communities in which they live and work.  

 

Our Vision

That more adults will experience positive mental wellbeing and will have the skills they need to make the best contribution they can to the communities in which they live and work.

 

What We Do and Who We Work With 

We provide accessible creative papercraft and mixed media programmes for adults. Anyone who wants to improve their mental wellbeing and learn new skills can join our programmes. However, we reach out to, and mostly work with, people who are excluded or lonely and those who are facing significant inequalities or life challenges. In particular, they may have a long-term condition or a physical disability and/or a mental health problem. 

 

Our Impact

Informal feedback and formal evaluation shows that what we have to offer builds confidence and skills, enables people to move towards their personal goals and make a greater contribution to their families, communities and workplaces with the following key themes emerging:

  1. The activity is beneficial in the post-covid world, helping to address isolation arising from either or both living alone and working at home.
  2. Have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing, alleviating stress, anxiety and depression.
  3. Belonging to and identifying with a group and crafting with others is beneficial.
  4. The sessions allow new skills to be built and new crafts to be learned.
  5. The sessions build confidence.
  6. The sessions have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing, alleviating stress, anxiety and depression.
  7. The activity is therapeutic and preventative.
  8. The online sessions make the sessions accessible to those who cannot go out – for whatever reason – providing a much needed opportunity for connection and meaningful activity.
  9. The fact that the sessions are free makes the sessions accessible and inclusive and enables the learning of new crafts.
  10. The learning has been taken beyond the sessions into the community e.g. with a group member running local sessions in the community.
  11. There is great benefit in doing something creative.

 A sample of the actual feedback received from our formal evaluation is provided below: 

 ‘I have been inspired with my creativity. I made A4 size pictures to go into the museum for everyone to admire. I am feeling more confident and I like sharing my ideas.’ Peterborough Central Library course participant after 10 weeks.

 ‘… I lost my father at the end of January and Craft4Smiles has hugely helped me not to isolate myself in grief and has been a hugely positive aspect in my life. I felt able to join the group even at my lowest and it helped me so much. I look forward to it every week to connect with everyone with a new love of crafting and to smile. Thank you.’ Online course participant after 10 weeks.

 ‘Thank you so much. I am very grateful to you, this course is not only very interesting, but also helps me to distract myself and take a break that I really need.’ Lithuanian online course participant after 10 weeks – just after the outbreak of the war in Lithuania.

‘Craft4Smiles has given me opportunity to connect with others. Be around others like me in terms of mental health making me feel like I am not alone as well as sharing with fellow crafters.  The craft group gave me a chance to chat and laugh with people. The crafts also gave me a sense of achievement and also opportunity to calm down or distract myself from chronic pain and anxiety.’ Online course participant after 10 weeks.

‘Engaging in the course is helping me to keep going.’ Online course participant after 10 weeks.

3 key themes emerged from our evaluation of our work with people living with dementia and their carers at the  Peterborough Dementia Resource Centre

  1. The activities are fun and enjoyable.
  2. The sessions offer a positive diversion from day-to-day and long-term challenges. 
  3. There is a high sense of achievement at the end of each lesson, with each person having made something they are proud of. Having received their diagnosis, this is not something that is experienced often. 

 Because the responses were interesting and impactful and it is of significance to the future of Craft4Smiles, some of the answers to our question 'What should I say to funders: i) Why should they continue to fund C4S?  ii) Why should they fund more courses? are included below:

'It’s proactive … it’s supporting people to prevent a mental health crisis and the same with physical health. It’s going to help a lot of people.'

'Without this, I would probably be going to the doctor’s for anti-depressants … preventative … cheaper in the long run … anything has got to be better than ramming tablets down our throats.’

'First of all, thank you. This group is amazing and helps me a lot and I'm sure not only me, especially the people who are struggling to pay for it, all the clubs that I have found before are very expensive and I was unable to join. So. for me. C4S is an absolutely incredible opportunity to relax and learn something new and useful.'

'I think the mental health service is letting so many people down. (If) having something like this available might benefit the NHS … alleviate pressure. It has taken 3 years to see a Psychiatrist … my meds haven’t been reviewed for 10 years. Knowing you can chat to other people once a week.'

Yes (agreeing with the above statement) I was quite unwell for a long time then I joined the craft group and it has contributed to my recovery a lot.'

'It might not be a therapy group but is therapeutic and gives you something that takes you away from yourself.'

'Creating something is very important and helpful.'

'It’s beneficial to people with mental health problems. People who are isolated and stuck at home need the opportunity to socialize and do something.'

'It definitely has made a difference and will continue to do so in the people you both teach. I think it shows … it’s hard to see the change in people… you need people to say that. Without something like this, things probably would be really boring. It all comes down to being a skill and being a life skill. If we were able to learn the skill, we can transfer it to the few hours we do have free - we know what to do with our time …

 

Our Beliefs

We are founded on the premise that creative activity has a major role to play in maintaining and improving mental and physical wellbeing and that this type of activity is helpful in both preventing the onset of a mental health problem and supporting recovery.

We will achieve our aims by working to the 5 Ways to Wellbeing:

Connect… With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

Be active… Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

Take notice… Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. 

Keep learning… Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun. 

Give to others … Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, as linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

These were identified as areas for individual action equivalent to ‘five fruit and vegetables a day’ as an outcome of the 2008 Foresight Report on healthy lifestyles.

 

Our Values

We aim, at all times, to:

  • Include and empower everyone who joins in with our activities.
  • Be kind and compassionate.
  • Respect others and their views.
  • Acknowledge the contribution and effort made by everyone, however small.
  • Go the extra mile.

 

The Arts and Creative Activity

The value of the arts and creative activity in improving mental and physical is increasingly acknowledged with, perhaps, most importantly, in 2017, The All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing: Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing finding that:

'It is time to recognise the powerful contribution that arts can make to health and wellbeing. There are now many examples and much evidence of the beneficial impact they can have. We have 3 key messages: ' The arts can help': 

  • Keep us well, aid recovery and support longer lives better lived.
  • Meet major challenges facing health and social care: ageing, loneliness and mental health.
  • Save money in the health service and social care. 

The report recommended that 'Be creative' should be added as a '6th Way to Wellbeing'. We tend to agree! 

 

Our Objectives

Our courses and creative activities have 5 key objectives:  

Objective 1: To support people to grow in self-esteem and confidence.

Objective 2: To help to build individual and community resilience.

Objective 3: To help individuals to develop skills and expertise in paper crafting.

Objective 4: To help individuals to make the best contribution they can to the communities in which they live and work.

Objective 5: To provide volunteering and work opportunities, including in the running of Craft4Smiles C.I.C. and employment within/by the organization.

 

Our Strategic Objectives

To ensure that we achieve our aims and objectives we have identified 3 strategic objectives (organizational objectives) that will ensure that Craft4Smiles is a thriving and sustainable community: 

Strategic Objective 1: To develop our organization collaboratively with craft group participants, members and external stakeholders.

Strategic Objective 2: To work collaboratively with other arts and crafting organizations locally and nationally.

Strategic Objective 3: To become a viable and sustainable organization. 

As we evolve, these will be reviewed. 

 

Testimonials

‘Huge thanks to Fiona and Gray for all the amazing support in learning new skills and creating something wonderful, for kindest and calming atmosphere. I really enjoyed this course not only because I learn so much and it was so fun and interesting but also because it helps me deal with my anxiety and increased my confidence.  Being a part of C4S is like having a little group of friends were you always welcome and there is no pressure, where you can unwind and forget about your problems for a couple hours. Please keep up your great work.’ L

‘Thank you both always for everything :) and putting a smile on our faces every week! Probably don’t say this enough.’ C

‘Lovely sessions with Gray, the flowers are incredibly mindful to create and so sweet. The learning experience and social connection really positive and valued hugely by us all.’ A

‘I’ve got the ribbon to hold perfectly securely. … Just thought I’d show you as I finished it and it looks really lovely and I love it so much! Thank you so much for ALL of this! I had a really challenging non stop morning of three difficult events thrown at me (all is well now I hasten you add) and crafting with you both just helps me cope with life’s twists and turns so much with its laughter and lovely perfect imperfections!’ G