Anstee Bridge's HOPE Book launch with Patron Dame Jacqueline Wilson. Photo Credit - Lena Wood

Hearts for the Arts 2022 Shortlist – Anstee Bridge

Achieving for Children and Kingston Borough Council's Anstee Bridge has been shortlisted for Best Arts Project in the 2022 Hearts for the Arts Awards

Anstee Bridge is a creative, alternative art programme to support young people aged 11-16 with social, emotional and mental health issues. Young people are referred by their school to attend Anstee once a week for emotional, creative respite for up to two years. In addition Anstee Bridge runs an outreach project delivering art workshops to11-14 year olds who need additional support.

Through creative workshops, such as learning magic, how to cartoon, circus performing and lyric writing, Anstee Bridge works to establish a secure attachment with young people, giving them the space to build confidence and creatively supports their mental health issues.

Katherine Greening set up Anstee Bridge in 2008. Having suffered trauma of her own as a child and finding limited support, Greening found some comfort and respite in participating in the creative arts. Anstee Bridge was set up to help young people in Kingston who were struggling with trauma and mental health and at the beginning there were 15-20 referrals a year. Anstee Bridge is now supporting over 80 young people struggling with their mental health across the Borough of Richmond, helping to prevent further impact on The NHS Mental Health service when they reach adulthood. Each year, Anstee also helps secure all of their year 11 young people into a post-16 destination, preventing them from becoming NEET (Not in Education, Training or Employment).

Anstee Bridge sees creative activity as a wonderful way to support young people who are extremely vulnerable and in crisis by raising their resilience and confidence and giving them hope for the future. This year, with a focus on post-pandemic recovery, Anstee have been running a digital detox project which involved walking, photography, yoga, mindfulness and art so that the young people could connect with nature and themselves again rather than with a screen. In additionl there has been live music, theatre tickets, a walk over the 02, zumba and bollywood dancing, and flower arranging where each floral display was gifted to a local community hero such as members from the local recycling depo, paramedics, supermarket staff and many more. Anstee have also worked with young people to create memory boxes of Kingston through collage, and HUG cushions for care homes in the community. All this creative activity has been delivered by just 2 staff and 20 volunteers.

What the judges said:

“A very important project achieving impressive results. I have no doubt that the impact of Anstee Bridge on its participants is profound and potentially life-changing.”

“Anstee Bridge are doing absolutely vital work with a tiny team and completely transforming the lives of the young people they work with through the power of art. A fantastic project with real world impact.”