Hi, this is Yvonne. I’m the Founder and Managing Director of Breathe Arts Health Research and I wanted to share some thoughts on what feels like a very momentous time not just for our company but also for our sector.

When Tim Joss, Chief Exec of Aesop and Michael Dixon, Chair of the College of Medicine opened AESOP’s First National Arts in Health Conference & Showcase at the Royal Festival Hall at the beginning of the month they called it a “pivotal moment for health and the arts”. And I agree, in a time of financial constraints a commitment by health professionals to the transformative benefits of the arts is, to put it bluntly, a bit of a big deal for the sector. At the event which were invited to open we had the opportunity to showcase a number of strands of our work (from the Breathe Magic programme to our Porters Poems programme) in more depth to a wide range of healthcare professionals and NHS commissioners. It was a truly inspiring event with lots of amazing discussions and demonstrations from arts organisations and leaders in the health sector – in fact Jeremy Hunt even commented on how impressed he was with our Breathe Magic programme in his opening speech! The likes of The Alchemy Project and Performing Medicine continued to impress us with their innovative approaches to healthcare. Most importantly the event instilled further trust that we are on the right track to follow our mission to combine scientific research with artistic excellence to improve the healthcare sector.

We will continue to work with high class performers and artists and a network of cultural and healthcare institutions to develop our impact further. And we will do this in two ways:

First, through the launch of our consultancy service. Offering our unique insight into the sector we offer bespoke support to cultural institutions as well as health services to help with the development of structurally. Already we have worked with partners such as the Cultural Institute at King’s College London, and Gloucestershire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.

Second, we will expand our Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme. For us, the AESOP conference has coincided with winning a major NHS Award. The NHS England Innovation Challenge prizes were created to celebrate and reward treatment programmes which use new ways to effectively tackle the ever-growing challenges faced by healthcare professionals, in an era of serious budgetary constraints. We were awarded the NHS England Innovation Challenge Prize for Rehabilitation for our evidence-based initiative which uses principles of magic and sleight of hand to deliver 78-hours of one-to-one, intensive therapy to young people with hemiplegia to build hand and arm function, cognitive abilities and confidence. (Click here for more information.) The interest from commissioners off of the back of this award will be instrumental in helping us to scale-up the programme. The scheme which had received more than 400 applications will allow us to tap into vital mentoring structures and will support us to help us roll this programme out to two new London boroughs and to both an urban and rural area outside of London. We are already receiving support from NHS England, the Allied Health Professionals Federation and the Academic Sciences Network to enable us to take this work in to new regions.

The fact the NHS England are now recognising evidence-based arts and health programmes, is a big moment for the arts and health sector as a whole. It also feels particularly special after winning the local Lammy Award for Innovation in Lambeth just a few months ago, that this work is now being recognised nationally.

I’m left with thanking my amazing team of office staff, clinicians, magicians and performers who are putting in a lot of work to transform not just individual people’s lives but also the arts in health sector in itself.

In the future you can expect more blog posts from the team and I’d love to start a conversation with you directly. Do you have questions about our consultancy service, one of our programmes or want to talk about the sector in general? Get in touch on info@breatheahr.org or on social media.