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  • Staying well, connected to others and resilient

Heart n Soul Arts based alternative to day centres


Heart n Soul -an award-winning creative arts company and charity

Heart n Soul's Allsorts provides creative sessions for people over the age of 18. It offers an alternative vision to the reduction in day services and increase in learning disabled adults with no budgets, no jobs and no services. It also offers genuine choice and agency for those with and without personal budgets.

What is the problem this innovation solves?

Partnership between learning disabled artists, an arts organsiation and an arts/community venue. Learning disabled adults can co-produce and design their own curated seasons of varied arts and well being activities.

Evidence base

We gain feedback at each event and the end of each season from participants, artists, staff, volunteers, carers and families, and we track attendance and retention.  We document case studies and use photography, recording and filming to capture activities.  

In 2015 we commissioned an external evaluation of the programme by NPC Associates; and in July 2015 Allsorts was a Case Study for the NCVO Cultural Commissioning Programme.  The same year we co-hosted a learning event with the New Economics Foundation and Lewisham Council for social care and health commissioners and arts organisations.

Expected impact

The external evaluation report concluded that:

Overall Allsorts provides a happy, stimulating and creative place for adults with learning disabilities to learn, relax and be with friends.  The combination of the overall ethos, the emphasis on self-esteem and enjoyment and the right community arts venue all create a unique environment which benefits all involved. Participants speak in a truly powerful way about the sense of warmth, joy and security they feel.

The report highlighted specific wellbeing outcomes:

Feeling connected, by:

  • Being with others
  • New friendships

“I feel close and connected, hanging out with new people”. 

Building self-esteem, by: 

  • Growing aspirations 
  • Speaking up for themselves 
  • Following dreams
  • Learning new skills
  • Taking on new challenges

“Gives me a reason to get up – look forward to it.  So great to have a reason”. 

Being more confident, by: 

  • Feeling less shy
  • Being able to talk to strangers
  • Having a sense of feeling good about themselves
  • Being able to believe in one-self

Stage and spread (where it is/how much is there?)

It takes place at the Albany in Deptford, a multi purpose arts/community centre and is co produced between creative arts organsiation Heart n Soul and the Allsorts co-producers. A majority of participants are from South East London. Almost 50% are from BME communities and a high proportion from families on a low income.  An average of 50 people attend each event and over 100 attend during the year.  Many are referred by social services and support agencies. Allsorts run 4 x 6 week seasons every year.

What would councils/health organisations/local areas need to do or have in place to enable it to happen?

A relationship with an arts organisation led by learning disabled artists/participants and a venue who were open to genuine inclusion with a variety of session spaces. It requires a visionary approach to how social care is implemented. It is the opposite of the 'warehousing' approach that has been in place since the Victorian era.  It does not force people into poorly paid menial work, rather it believes in people's capabilities and the possiblity of learning new things and making a creative contribution to our culture. It is about believing in learning disabled people's agency and abilities and that they are capable of more.

What would kill it?

Risk aversion, bureaucracy, top down interference, a lack of vision, an inability to work in partnership or offer agency to learning disabled people.  A lack of flexibiity around personal budgets and their use.

Where to go for more information