I started by exploring what was already going on locally and nationally and discovered a wealth of brilliant programmes and organisations.

I met Jessica Kent, Arts for Health Manager at our local mental health trust (South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFTNHS); Ian Anstee, then North West Director for Live Music Now; and Kate Hogwood of Shropshire Music Trust who were all doing amazing things in the arts for health arena and welcomed me in my exploration of what more could be done.

I soon realised that what was needed was a collaborative approach in knitting together what was already going on and filling the gaps in order to meet the needs of more isolated and vulnerable people in our community who weren’t accessing more creative approaches to enabling their wellbeing and resilience.

There is a wealth of evidence around the benefits of arts on health and wellbeing and this encouraged me to think more could be done.

As I met more like minded people including those wanting more creative arts; artists; health, care and education workers; and many people who just wanted to help out it became clear I needed to move from an exploratory phase to making something happen.

I managed to raise funds via Live Music Now, SSSFTNHS and some local sponsorship and we piloted a programme of Creative Inspiration in Shropshire care homes, schools, hospitals, the hospice and community centres. We involved a range of musicians in our initial programme and Ian from Live Music Now introduced me to Tom Evans, a young clarinettist on the Live Music Now scheme who was keen to be increasingly involved in arts for health projects. He rallied a variety of his musical colleagues to perform in a range of ensembles for different events and Trio Volant, in particular, were core to our initial programme. One highlight was a series of days in addition to doing a number of performances, they delivered some training for some local music students and then accompanied them to Redwoods, our local mental health hospital to perform in chamber groups and a mass ensemble to the inpatients one evening. That was the birth of Creative Inspiration Youth!

It was clear we needed to prove how valuable our approach was so gathering feedback was very important from the start and I was lucky enough to be introduced to Vicky Guise, a Live Music Now musician with a particular interest in the benefits of music for people with dementia who has been voluntarily helping us evolve our evaluation programme since our early ventures.

By the time this initial programme was underway and receiving very positive feedback , I was convinced I needed to take forward my project more formally and explored the best way of turning it from a hobby to a venture with a realistic opportunity of becoming a venture with reach, impact and sustainability. I therefore founded Creative Inspiration Shropshire Community Interest Company in September 2014 and we had a vibrant launch event at Redwoods Hospital. As you can see from this picture our Mayor, the Chief Executive of SSSFTNHS and the CEO of Live Music Now enjoyed a lively musical experience! Creative Inspiration Shropshire CIC had been born to “Grow individual and collective wellbeing and resilience in Shropshire through the creative arts”.

Creative Inspiration Shropshire CIC had been born to “Grow individual and collective wellbeing and resilience in Shropshire through the creative arts”.