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The charity, Arts Network, battling a post-Covid ‘mental ill health crisis’ is boosting its reach across south east London and online thanks to new funding.

An arts charity battling a post-Covid ‘mental ill health crisis’ is boosting its reach across south east London and online thanks to new funding.

Arts Network, which provides arts and crafts workshops for people with severe and long-term mental health issues, is expanding from its Lewisham base into neighbouring Lambeth and Southwark.

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The Patels’ Dream Goes Nightmare.

The charity has moved groups online during the pandemic and launched a magazine with creative projects, tips and interviews – Stay Connected – which has seen its circulation rocket to over 1,200 readers.

The organisation will be able to help hundreds more people thanks to a £125,300 three-year grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

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City of London Corporation City Bridge Trust Committee Chairman Dhruv Patel said: “I’ve been so impressed by the way charities operating under extremely difficult conditions during the pandemic have found creative and innovative ways to adapt their services, and Arts Network is a perfect example.

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Sunny Side Up. All images by Jean Marc

“By moving workshops online and launching a really successful magazine, they’ve been able to ensure people with mental health issues can stay connected and enjoy the therapeutic and cathartic benefits of exploring their creativity.”

The City Bridge Trust grant will fund two new workshop facilitators and a relationship officer tasked with building links with service users’ care co-ordinators and outside organisations.

Arts Network Founder and CEO Mo Saunders said: “We’re already seeing increased demand for our services and we fear a mental ill health crisis will follow from the Covid pandemic. This funding will allow us to reach even more of the people who are most in need of our services.

“When people are with us they are not labelled as someone with a mental illness – they’re just artists. It gives them a sense of self-respect, they learn new creative skills and start to build up social connections in a really supportive environment.”

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