Advocating for Creative Health Programmes

Author: Tom Robinson

In this blog, Alice Thwaite shares her thoughts on the place of creative health in tackling health inequalities.

A photo of young people enjoying taking part in a dance project called STAR project with TIN Arts.  Boys stand in their own space in a school hall, using their hands to make pretend binoculars.

I’m the Creative Health Associate for the North East, North Cumbria and Yorkshire and I work for the National Centre for Creative Health.   I’m being hosted by the NENC Integrated Care Board to raise the profile and advocate for the inclusion of creative health programmes across the region.

I’ve been working to make sure the arts are accessible to everyone, particularly those with least access, for the past 30 years, mainly as Co-Director of Equal Arts, the regional creative ageing charity.  I have always been committed to working with artists/musicians/dancers etc who can support the co-creation of work with people.   It is an immense and undervalued skill. 

The language has changed (we used to talk about arts and health) and the evidence for how important these ways of working has built up.  There has been particular interest since the All Parliamentary Party Report, Creative Health: The Arts for Health & Wellbeing was published in 2017 and the more recent Creative Health Review, which states ‘creativity is fundamental for our health and wellbeing and supports us to live well for longer.  An ever-strengthening body of research tells us that engaging with creativity and culture improves mental health and wellbeing and can be used in the prevention, treatment, management and recovery of physical health conditions.’

A photo shows a young woman chatting and laughing with an older woman who is in bed.  Another photo shows a display of artwork on a white wall.  The artwork shows lots of hands and eyes.

This role enables me to work strategically and support creative health programmes to be embedded in some of the health inequalities work that is taking place.

So - if you are running Dance for Parkinson’s sessions, Singing for lung health, supporting people’s mental health through running creative groups I would be particularly interested in hearing how this is being supported by your local health Trust or if they know about the work.   I would also be interested in your thoughts about how we can bring the VCSE and arts and creative sectors together more (I realise there is some great work already going on) to create collaborations which will strengthen the field and enable better access.

You can contact Alice via email at and for further information please visit the National Centre for Creative Health website.