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KCC Media Release: A Show of Hope for Kent and Medway

By Gill Gray (Town Clerk/RFO) Westgate-on-Sea Town Council

Wednesday, 12 July 2023

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Westgate-on-Sea Town Council Contributor

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Art representing hope to raise awareness of suicide prevention will be showcased at leading gallery Turner Contemporary ahead of going on tour around the county.

Organised by the Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Team, 11 local artists and community groups will exhibit works – co-produced with people who have experience of poor mental health – at the prestigious Margate venue on Tuesday, 18th July.

After a formal launch, the mix of installations, paintings, ceramics, creative writing, and textiles symbolising that even when living with suicidal thoughts, urges to self-harm, or the loss of a loved one who has taken their own life, there is always hope, will open to the public.

Funded by the Kent and Medway Hope Community Arts Fund, which is backed by Kent County Council (KCC), Medway Council and NHS Kent and Medway, the art works will then be displayed in other venues around the county.

Initially visiting Maidstone, Chatham, and Tunbridge Wells, through late July and August, further exhibitions will be confirmed.

By seeking to encourage people of all ages to open up about difficult emotions, and break the stigma of reaching for support for better mental health, the Hope Exhibition echoes the messages of the major suicide prevention campaign Baton of Hope.

KCC’s Director of Public Health, Dr Anjan Ghosh, said: “By giving individuals an opportunity to express themselves, feel valued, and grow, art can quite literally be a lifeline, which is why the Hope Community Arts Fund was launched.

Community artist Hannah Whittaker is from Draw Hope, one of the projects taking part. She said: “I wanted to get involved in delivering one of the Hope projects as it's a chance to connect with and bring people together. It's been amazing having the chance to help and guide people artistically as they look to express themselves and share their stories. Working over a series of workshops it has been wonderful to see the artwork evolve and develop, everyone has been extremely supportive of one another and proud of the large piece that they have all contributed to.”

Helen Robertson from Broadstairs Town Shed said: “We understand the wellbeing benefits of woodworking in a safe space where friendships are formed. Our Shedders have embraced the restorative power of woodturning and for them, it’s the spark of joy, camaraderie, mindfulness and meaning needed to make everyday a good day; it gives them hope.”

The Hope Exhibition tours Kent and Medway from 21st July. You can see the art works for free at Fremlin Walk, Maidstone (24th-28th July); Chatham Library and Community Hub (31st July-4th August) and Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells (7th-11th August – note 7th is a set up day).

The exhibition is also open to all between 4-6pm at the Turner Contemporary on the 18th July.

The Mental health and wellbeing support available in Kent and Medway includes:

  • RELEASE THE PRESSURE – free expert advice from trained counsellors is available for every mental health concern, including anxiety, money and debt worries, at any time through Release the Pressure. Just text the word “Kent” or “Medway” to 85258 or phone 0800 107 0160 for free confidential help.
  • LIVE WELL KENT AND MEDWAY – run by charities Shaw Trust and Porchlight this local support network provides free mental health guidance for younger people and adults, including with money and debt.
  • EVERY MIND MATTERS – if you’re suffering with stress, anxiety, low mood and sleep issues, the Better Health Every Mind Matters website has lots of information to help you stay on top of your mental wellbeing, including a simple five question quiz to get a personalised mental health action plan with tips and advice.

In an emergency, if someone’s life is at risk, always call 999. For more about urgent mental health help, visit: https://www.kentandmedway.icb.nhs.uk/mental-wellbeing-information-hub/need-help-now

Contact Information

Chloe Wheatley (Interim Town Clerk)

  • 01843 836182
  • 01843 836182

Find Westgate-on-Sea Town Council

78 St Mildreds Road, Westgate-On-Sea, Kent, CT8 8RF

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Additional Information

The email address for the Town Clerk is [email protected]