Three Rivers District Council – Making It

Three Rivers District Council's 'Making It' shortlisted for Best Arts Project - Arts, Health and Wellbeing in the 2020 Hearts for the Arts Awards


Making It is the Three Rivers District Council’s dedicated Arts on Prescription programme for people living with mental health issues and poor wellbeing. On a 12 week programme, participants work with a professional, experienced artist and a counsellor, to explore a wide variety of creative processes. The result is an exhibition of work for public display and a whole range of other positive outcomes for wellbeing. The project is currently based around Mindfulness and Creativity and it aims to promote relaxation and having something positive to look forward to. It also helps people feel valued and less isolated and it boosts confidence and esteem.

Making It provides a friendly and supported learning environment which enables participants to find their way, strive and feel confident enough to join other creative groups in the future. It provides structure in the weekly routine, and there are boundaries in the sessions and the understanding that everyone in the room has something that they are dealing with. It’s a non-judgemental space where people encourage each other and consider vulnerabilities, with a Counsellor on hand to listen. This is not something a mainstream art group can always provide and Making It fills a gap in the market.

Making It has strong and active partnerships with various referral routes. Herts Mind Network, Herts Help and NHS Foundation Trusts refer their clients to the project, as well as social workers and Community Learning Disability Teams. There are also excellent relationships with local Community Navigators – ‘link workers’ who work at a ground level to connect people with help/advice. Advertising self-referral has also increased uptake rate with more GPs becoming aware of the project owing to their patients presenting a form to complete for them. 

What the judges said:

‘Very impressive set of external reference points, such as evaluation framework, and although only a short programme so far, clearly has potential to develop further.’ 

‘Amazing progress, initiative, and self-reflection – these will all help with sustainability – thoroughly impressed! The Council is clearly looking toward the future to accommodate the needs of people and the challenge the participants. I found your programme to have a careful balance of physical and mental health awareness. Fantastic work!’

Photo credit: Elaine Johnson