Sara Rose enrolled on an Art for Health & Wellbeing class two years ago while struggling with bipolar disorder and social anxiety. She then attended further courses – Creative Drawing, Weaving and Textiles – and all the while, the WEA helped to build up her confidence in a gentle way.  

Two years ago, I moved back up to Halifax from Brighton, which really rocked my mental health. I had heard good things about the WEA creative courses at Artworks, a local art college, and decided to give one a go. The WEA tutors were so welcoming and I started to find my confidence again. They really got me as a person.  

I made a particularly strong relationship a tutor called Sarah – we just kind of connected. We’re now working together at the Calderdale and Kirklees Recovery College, which shows how far I’ve come. 

She has been amazing for my self-esteem. I’m leading classes, which I could never have dreamt of doing in the past. Funnily enough, she lacks confidence in areas such as IT, so I’m able to give back by giving her guidance.  

Arts and craft has always been a big part of my life. From a young age – long before I’d ever heard of mindfulness – I recognised the mental benefits of absorbing myself in an activity. It was a chance to escape from everything. I feel guilty saying it, but the lockdown has proved very good for me. I can create a safe space on Zoom or Teams, separated but connected too. I have thrived as a result.  

The change since getting involved with the WEA has been extraordinary. At the start, I couldn’t go to the classes alone. Now, I’m doing some part time work and thinking about volunteering too. It has all made such a difference in building my stability and resilience. I can’t recommend the WEA, Artworks and the Recovery College highly enough.  

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Elaine Wilkie head of region WEA Yorkshire & Humber
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About the author

Elaine Wilkie

Head of Region: Yorkshire and Humber

Head of Region: Yorkshire and Humber