During the first lockdown in 2020, Greater Manchester Combined Authority led the Creative Care Kit initative and distributed over 22,000 Kits to young people.

Each kit, delivered in a box to fit through letterboxes, contains a 36-page book of creative activities and a set of art materials, coupled with hints and tips from the GM i-THRIVE team on protecting mental health and wellbeing. A second Kit was developed based on the feedback of those who received the first, and its theme is activism: be the change you want to see. Young people said they would like the second Kit to a focus on ways young people can get their voices heard, make changes in their communities, and help to identify and act on their passions.

The Kits are aimed at young people aged between 13 – and 19. Anyone is welcome to download PDFs of the Kits.

Over 25 charities, businesses, healthcare professionals and arts organisations teamed up to quickly and with great imagination to support thousands of young people across Greater Manchester who are not online, and who therefore may be more isolated and lonely than those with access to the web.

Creative Care Kits for older adults are also available. GMCA also led a Kit for older adults, which you can also find and download for free, here.

Councillor David Greenhalgh, Leader of Bolton Council and GMCA Lead for Culture, said: “This marvellous spirit of collaboration between more than 25 organisations from across the city-region makes this project really unique. Activities within the kit can be completed using materials found around the home or are provided in the pack focusing on music, writing, craft, dance and visual arts.”

Creative Care Kits for young people: second edition

What’s in the Kit?

The second edition is split into three themes: Being in the World, Being Myself and Being the Change. Each section provides activities to introduce and explore the theme, real life experiences of young people, and information about how to get involved. At the end there is a map of organisations and services available in GM.

The thinking behind the Kits: Why Love Matters

Loneliness and disconnect are among the strongest known predictors of poor wellbeing, health, and of mortality. During these trying times, human connection, support and love has been vital to our ability to cope.

  • Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 26% (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)
  • Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2010).
  • Loneliness is linked to increased risks of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, depression and dementia.

I was recently told that a colleague in a leadership role was advised that speaking of love in a professional capacity was “embarrassing.” But whether we think of the populations and people we work with love, towards compassionate care, or to to each other as colleagues, love matters. We are among society’s most vulnerable to burn-out, and the culture of work environments can be a protective factor against this.

True person-centred and effective care starts with the workforce. It is vital that we are ok, that we are supported and receive kindness, and yes, feel the love in and around our workplaces.

A lack of kindness in the workplace kills. Watch this brilliant talk from a surgeon on the impact of how we treat one another – When rudeness in teams turns deadly. What Chris discussed here is not even unkindness, but incivility. We are all exquisitely and sensitively attuned to the treatment from others, and it profoundly affects our attention, effectiveness – and our abilities to collaborate with each other and the people and populations we serve.

To end, here’s a classic song from “outsider folk” legend, Michael Hurley, with his most-played song, Be Kind To Me.

Photographs of the Kits, the processes, and the many volunteers were shared on social media channels– including on Twitter: @greatermcr and @GM_Culture

Full list of contributors: 42nd Street, Arc, Born and Bred Dance Theatre, Cartwheel Arts, Castlefield Gallery, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Contact, Creative Industries Trafford, Gallery Oldham, GM Arts, GM iTHRIVE Arts and Mental Health Innovation Programme, M6 Theatre Company, Manchester City of Literature, Manchester Craft and Design Centre, Manchester Hip Hop Archive, Manchester Libraries, Octagon Theatre, Our Stories Matter, Salford Culture and Place Partnership, The Lowry, The Proud Trust, The Turnpike, Unity Radio, Z Arts

Creative Care Kits has been made possible with the generous support of: Arts Council England, National Heritage Lottery Fund, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Curious Minds, Young Manchester, Trafford Housing Trust, Local businesses have also contributed by providing materials and services at greatly reduced cost. These include Banner UK, TG Nuttall Packaging and Mint Copies

With additional support from: Banner UK, Elixir Gardens, Modern Designers, A34, University of Salford.

I'm a British clinical psychologist with a research background. I manage the Greater Manchester i-THRIVE Arts, Culture and Mental Health Programme, part of the national transformation of children's services. I also have an NHS clinical role in Lancaster and Morecambe working with children, young people and families (CAMHS). I began this blog in 2017 to record a WCMT Travelling Fellowship, from a research role at Arts for Health, Manchester Metropolitan University. I began clinical psychology training (DCLinPsy, Lancaster) in 2010, and studied the role of creativity in bipolar disorder, because of the known links, and partly due to my own experiences of creatively managing extremes of mood in adolescence and throughout my 20s. I have worked in several university psychology research departments including Manchester University in suicide prevention, the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University (notable for service user expertise), and on the Dementia & Imagination research programme.

1 comment on “Be kind to me: Creative Care Kits

  1. Be kind to me!

    > WordPress.com

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