Who we are

Arty-Folks believes that a person cannot be explained through a medical diagnosis and that most mental distress is caused by social circumstances often outside the person’s control.

Arty-Folks was founded in November 1995 by a user of mental health services who felt disempowered by his diagnosis, ‘managed’ by the medical profession, and written off by society in collaboration with a community artist.

The first workshop on 25th April 1996 was attended by 9 people who began to shape our purpose and our approach to art and mental well-being.  Then as much as now, the people who come to Arty-Folks are seeking our support to bridge the gap from being dependent on mental health services to leading a self-directed life in the community.

We are proud we have offered an uninterrupted service on a shoestring budget with the support of numerous wonderful service user volunteers since.

Art requires the courage to let go of certainties and not being afraid to fail.

By April 2002 our weekly art group had become overcrowded and we were considering starting a waiting list.  However, our members felt it crucial that Arty-Folks offers immediate access to people when they need it most and that joining us needs to continue being as easy as possible.

So we started running our 2nd weekly art group, Progression group, for people who were feeling more confident and were looking for the next step up into mainstream recreational groups.

November 2013 Arty-Folks office moved into Eaton House on peppercorn rent and this enabled us to start our 3rd group,
Making Way group, for people who were feeling stable and resilient to start looking for employment or education.

If you have never worked or have been out of work for many years this is a very difficult transition to make.  Recognising this, we started 1:1 Mentoring and Coaching our members to help them achieve their goals.

January 2017 we started our 4th group, Making Headway group, specifically for young people 18-30 years old who are struggling to transition into independence and adulthood.

We often think about creativity as making something new and original, but in fact the latin root meaning of the word means ‘to grow’.

Today, we help over 150 people per year to get through very difficult times in their lives and to find their own way forward.  Coaching and Mentoring is embedded in all four art groups and involves solution-focused counselling, progression planning, quarterly reviews, and individual support to achieve personal ambitions.

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way and allowing yourself to make mistakes.  At Arty-Folks we have harnessed the transformational power of the visual arts with peer support into a unique and innovative self-development program.

At the heart of our Art Program is the certainty that in everyone lives a spirit of inquiry that can lead to extraordinary insights, breakthroughs, and personal growth.