Creative Minds was set up in 2011 to support the development and delivery of creative arts, sports, recreation and leisure-based projects to improve the lives of people who use South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYPFT) services. It has developed into a charity hosted by SWYPFT with over 120 community partners developing over 1000 community-based partnership projects across the footprint covering Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. These projects offer opportunities for people who use SWYPFT physical and mental health services and build the confidence, competence and capacity of local communities. Creative Minds’ approach is very much based on community development principles and asset-based approaches and operates more like a social movement, that empowers local communities to be part of decision-making and development.
The projects developed and delivered through partnership approaches, complement and enhance the services that people receive from the NHS and support their recovery. They also offer alternative community-based approaches for those who may avoid using services, reject their diagnosis, or disagree with a medical approach. By having one foot in the NHS and one foot outside, Creative Minds can get alongside individuals who use services and support them to connect with meaningful activities in their communities and neighbourhoods that help individuals to regain, hope, meaning and fulfil their potential.
The values of Creative Minds are the guiding principles of all they do. Coproduction lies at the heart of their approach, from the way they developed to the way collective decision-making continues to drive project development. Co-producing creative projects adds substantial value to the Trust’s overall service offer by exploring areas beyond its current provision and co-creating new and innovative solutions to the issues faced by individuals and communities.
Creative Minds’ objectives are to:
• Increase participation in creative activities for people who use Trust services.
• Coproduce quality creative practice and approaches within community-based organisation.
• Increase inter-agency partnerships and bring in more funding for creativity and wellbeing.
• Develop a research/evidence base regarding creative approaches in relation to health, wellbeing
Within its health system, Creative Minds is creating a paradigm shift, from one that is about ‘doing to’, to one that is about creating the right conditions for individuals and collective groups and communities to do for themselves and each other. This requires a fundamental shift in power to people with lived experience and communities, recognising them as equals in a relationship that creates value through meaning and hope.
“Creative activity and participation are key to Creative Minds. However, ideological differences regarding how the enterprise fits with the core mental health offer of SWYPFT need to be reconciled. This requires careful consideration of how SWYPFT views its role as a public sector provider, to see how Creative Minds can become a core component, rather than adjunct or alternative” - Dr Steven Michael, OBE, former SWYPFT CEO – 1 November 2023