Organised by the Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Team, 11 local artists and community groups exhibited works, co-produced with people who have experience of poor mental health, at the prestigious Margate venue on Tuesday, 18th July.
The impressive mix of installations, paintings, ceramics, creative writing, and textiles will now visit Maidstone, Chatham and Tunbridge Wells to highlight the help available to anyone living with suicidal thoughts, urges to self-harm, or the loss of a loved one who has taken their own life.
You can see the art works for free at Fremlin Walk, Maidstone 24st -28th July; Chatham Library 31st July-4th August and Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, 7th-11th August.
Kent and Medway Hope Community Arts Fund grants totalling £21,000 were divided among the successful applicants to help bring the vision of hope to life.
Across Kent, 7 projects received a combined £10,000, with 4 Medway initiatives securing a total £11,000 from the fund which is backed by KCC, Medway Council and NHS Kent and Medway.
“By giving individuals an opportunity to express themselves, feel valued, and grow, art can quite literally be a lifeline, which is why the Hope Community Arts Fund was launched...”
Dr Anjan Ghosh, Director of Public Health at Kent County Council, said: "By giving individuals an opportunity to express themselves, feel valued, and grow, art can quite literally be a lifeline, which is why the Hope Community Arts Fund was launched.
"The result is a powerful exhibition that sends a clear message – that even in the darkest times, there is always a chance for loss, loneliness, trauma, or conflict to be overcome.
“We also want these works to raise awareness of the support available so more people talk openly about their mental health, or know what to do when someone shares their struggle, or is clearly in a difficult place.”
Kate Langford, NHS Kent and Medway’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “I would like to thank the artists who helped people who have seen some tough times to spread their message of hope.
"Suicide is the main cause of death in young people under the age of 35 in the UK, so it is important that people know there is hope even in the darkest of times.
“I’d also like to thank the brave people who shared their stories of hope through art and I hope that more and more people will talk about their feelings, seek help and find hope as the exhibition travels across Kent and Medway.”
“Art and creative mediums are important and powerful tools which can really help people come to terms with their emotions and help improve their mental health”
James Williams, Medway Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “I am pleased that we have worked with local artists and community groups to share this message of hope.
"Art and creative mediums are important and powerful tools which can really help people come to terms with their emotions and help improve their mental health.
"I hope that this exhibition will inspire residents across Medway, as well as Kent, and help more people have conversations about their mental health.”
Alice Scutchey and Andrea Sparke from the Baton of Hope Organising Committee also attended the Turner launch with the baton.
It was the first outing for the the Baton since it was carried from Glasgow to Westminster in the UK’s biggest suicide prevention awareness-raising campaign to date.
The mental health and wellbeing support available in Kent and Medway includes:
- Release the Pressure – free expert advice from trained counsellors is available for every mental health concern, including anxiety, money and debt worries, at any time through Release the Pressure. Just text the word “Kent” or “Medway” to 85258 or phone 0800 107 0160 for free confidential help.
- Live Well Kent and Medway – run by charities Shaw Trust and Porchlight this local support network provides free mental health guidance for young people and adults, including with money and debt, and
- Every Mind Matters – if you’re suffering with stress, anxiety, low mood and sleep issues, the Better Health Every Mind Matters website has lots of information to help you stay on top of your mental wellbeing, including a simple five question quiz to get a personalised mental health action plan with tips and advice.