Arts and culture can transform lives, increase confidence, and support significant health improvements.

Carlisle charity Prism Arts has seen this first-hand and is part of a new partnership developing accessible cultural experiences to improve people’s health and wellbeing.

The partnership is made up of Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle City Council, North Cumbria Integrated Care Foundation Trust, Carlisle Healthcare, Prism Arts, Susie Tate Projects and Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

They will be working with other partners to increase the uptake of social prescribing to help improve the health and resilience of a community that has been hit by COVID-19 and lockdowns.

Social prescribing describes the practice of healthcare professionals referring individuals to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their physical and mental wellbeing.

The partnership is celebrating after being awarded £50,000 from the Thriving Communities Fund to support its £90,000 project. The funding will be used to help Carlisle communities cope with the impact of COVID-19, as part of a national initiative to embed social prescribing in communities and healthcare.

A spokesperson for Prism Arts, said:

"We look forward to working with our partner organisations and the local community to develop important cultural opportunities. We will be working together to deliver a programme of community co-produced arts, health and well-being activities across North Cumbria."

Carlisle City Council Portfolio holder for Communities & Health, Cllr Elizabeth Mallinson, said:

“It is great that this partnership between Carlisle City Council, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, North Cumbria Integrated Care Community, Prism Arts, Susie Tate Projects, has been successful in securing the ‘Thriving Communities’ grant which will go a long way in helping us to deliver real benefits from increased cultural activities for the communities of Carlisle District.”

Andrew Mackay (Director, Tullie House) added:

“Tullie House is incredibly proud to be at the forefront of developing a culture of social prescribing for Carlisle. Along with our partners, we fundamentally believe that arts, culture and the outdoors are essential in enhancing health and wellbeing and are excited to be able to offer the communities we serve such fantastic new opportunities in this area.”

Paul Counter (Healing Arts Chair, NCIC) said: “Arts and culture are a very important but often neglected area of healthcare and I’m delighted with the success of Thriving Communities for North Cumbria which will support our efforts to embed arts into NCIC.”