Galaxy House is 10 bed inpatient accommodation for young people being cared for by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Feedback from users was that it was cold, sterile and unwelcoming and it was identified as in desperate need of attention to improve the living environment for the children and the working environment for the staff.

This is where the Whitworth became involved.

Who Cares? is an Arts for Health initiative developed by the Whitworth Art Gallery. Working with Manchester Hospital Schools and the Home Teaching Service they provide pupils with creative opportunities, and their cultural entitlement, during their time under hospital care. Through consultation with inpatients, their families and staff, and collaboration with a team of creative practitioners (all experienced in working with vulnerable young people and fully CRB approved), a programme was devised to produce a range of suitable artworks, murals, and environmental pieces to furnish the interior of Galaxy House and provide an aesthetically enhanced space in which to live and work. Students from both the Leo Kelly Centre and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital School, accompanied by their teachers, made visits to the Whitworth gallery and, over a 16 week period, took part in a series of practical workshops ranging from poetry and painting to printmaking and environmental art.

A bespoke and cross curricula approach was taken to the devising and implementation of these sessions, in line with the new secondary creative learning curriculum. Artists led workshops and creative mentoring activities to enable young people to produce artwork, inspired by collections and exhibitions seen the Whitworth Art Gallery’s collections.

Through this quality led initiative, inpatients, their families and staff were given the opportunity to work alongside a team of creative practitioners and mentors from the Whitworth Art Gallery, and The University of Manchester, to revitalize and transform an uninviting clinical and medical area into warm, welcoming, nurturing and creative spaces.

What is more, the benefits of the project on the young people involved was highlighted by Ofsted Lead Inspector, Marion Thomas “Pupils’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural understanding is well promoted particularly through their recent inclusion in an exciting new project linking arts, media and museums with mental health and well-being.”

Related Links

> Galaxy House ‘Who Cares?’ Young People’s Art Project photo gallery
> Children's Hospital homepage