Challenging artist stereotypes

Regard Artwork 2

A group of people with learning difficulties and mental health issues are taking part in an exciting project in Haringey, North London, that aims to challenge the way people like them are often excluded from the world of art and design.

Public recognition for their work is very important to the artists, three of whom live at Arcadian Gardens – a supported living service run by Regard, the UK’s fourth largest private organisation providing supported living and residential services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury.

“The people we support are a really talented bunch and we’re so proud of what they’re achieving,” said Arcadian Gardens’ service manager Martin Swift.

“The Creativity 1695 project means they get professional support for their art work and the chance for it to reach a wider audience than it usually would, including exhibitions at London galleries.

“The artists from Arcadian Gardens love the sessions they attend and have produced brilliant works of art ranging from hieroglyph paintings, clay modelling and jewellery projects to animal portraits.”

Creativity 1695 (for people from 16 to 95) was launched two-and-a-half years ago by Vanessa Joseph, a foster carer of two young autistic men.

Works produced are available for sale via the website: www.creativity1695.co.uk, with half the proceeds going to students, half to the project. Sales have generated more than £1,500 to date, with items in the current selection ranging in price from £19.99 to £1,500.

Martin Swift said: “Promoting social inclusivity is central to minimising the disability associated with mental health issues and special needs such as autism, and this is a great way to go about it.”

Some of the other individuals who live at Arcadian Gardens are supported to fulfil work placements on a regular basis, one in the kitchen of the Downhills café run by HAIL (Haringey Association for Independent Living), and another in a telesales centre for a model agency.

Due to the successful transition to independent living of two previous occupants, there are currently two vacancies at the service, offering eligible individuals their own home, n with 24-hour support, and access to a full programme of educational and recreational activities.

Located in Wood Green, North London, Arcadian Gardens is a supported living service focussed on positive outcomes for individuals.

Martin Swift said: “The homes we offer are suitable for anyone moving from residential care or the family home who needs a transition before moving to more independent living environments with outreach support.

“There is an enormous need for this type of accommodation in the area. Many people with learning disabilities reach their 20s and really need to have their own space away from their parents.

“We have a highly trained and experienced staff team who are used to supporting people with learning disability and/or mental health needs, autistic conditions and behaviour that may challenge.”

Families with an adult with learning difficulties can learn more about the opportunity by calling the Regard referral line: 0800 840 0313. Find out more about Regard’s work at www.regard.co.uk.

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