Fresh Arts Programme

Fresh Arts

For many patients a hospital stay can be an anxious and lonely experience. Our Fresh Arts programme aims to make the hospital more welcoming and engaging by providing a range of creative arts and performance projects.  The projects get patients and carers involved in activities to help improve their health and wellbeing.  We also want to create distraction, interest and comfort.

Research has shown that through the arts hospitals can create a better healing environment – helping patients to get better quicker.  Fresh Arts provides the following programmes:

  • Visual Arts & Exhibitions
  • Music
  • Arts on Wards, and
  • Arts on Referral

Thanks to our donors, Southmead Hospital Charity is able to support the following Fresh Arts projects:

Music Programme  

Live music entertains our patients and staff, provides a wonderful talking point, and brings a relaxed atmosphere to the hospital.  Southmead Hospital Charity supports three significant projects within the Music Programme:

  • Live Music Now at Cossham
  • Play It Again, and
  • the grand piano at Southmead Hospital

With funding from the Charity and the donations people make to Fresh Arts, we work with national agency Live Music Now to bring new and emerging professional musicians to Cossham Hospital’s wards, waiting areas and clinics every month.

"Thanks so much, you remind me of the good old days." – patient

The Play It Again project delivers 46 weekly music sessions to older people on Elgar House wards.  The project aims to entertain, engage, calm and create a more relaxed and enjoyable hospital stay for patients.  It has proved particularly beneficial to patients with a cognitive impairment.  Through donations from the Charity we were able to purchase percussion instruments so patients and the musicians – Ali, Cath and Caitlyn – can play and sing along together.

We now have a piano in the atrium of Southmead Hospital and a team of over 40 volunteer pianists who give their time on a regular basis to entertain patients and visitors with live music performances.  The Charity continues to fund the necessary tuning and maintenance of the piano. 

A nurse who had been upstairs with the dementia patients came over to thank us and said that our singing had been heard and the patients had commented on the music.” – volunteer pianist 


Arts on Wards programme

Artist in Residence projects bring the arts right into the centre of Southmead Hospital. 

Thanks to the support of Southmead Hospital Charity, our resident artist Ali has worked with patient groups from around the hospital to create curious, colourful, cosy knitted objects ranging from a giant jumper, and wonky-eyed teddies, to a knitted wisdom machine, envelopes of inspiration and even a knitted bus stop.

Ali continues her work in residence, supporting our patients’ and staff wellbeing by calmly creating time for reflection, as well as providing visual, tactile and emotional stimulation, building on her work with her previous residency, Kindness is Everywhere.

This year Ali will also be resident in Cossham Hospital in September 2018. She’ll be working with dialysis patients, the chronic pain team, and in the waiting areas of the hospital to engage patients in creative activities while they wait for their appointments.


Arts on Referral programme

One of the main aims of our Arts on Referral Programme is to help patients find ways of coping with an ongoing long-term health condition.

This year Fresh Arts is trialling a new Arts on Referral programme which has been made possible thanks to donations from the Charity and the donations people make to Fresh Arts. 

This pilot project is working with three clinical outpatient departments: MacMillan Cancer Centre for people with experience of cancer; The Brain Centre for people with a recent diagnosis of dementia (and their carers); and the Chronic Pain team.  Clinicians refer patients to a six-week programme of creative activity led by an artist in our unique Community Arts Room. 

 “Definitely gives us more confidence now to go out and do more” – participant

“It’s lovely to feel that the hospital has community feel to it and that it values that” – participant


Dance for Parkinson’s

This project offers weekly tailored dance sessions over 50 weeks of the year for people with Parkinson’s and their carers at Southmead Hospital.  The sessions bring people together to enjoy movement, music and self-expression in a friendly and fun social space.

As well as improving physical health, the dancing also contributes positively to the mental wellbeing of people taking part. Each session is rounded off with a cuppa.  This year, the group have stepped boldly into the Brunel building at Southmead Hospital for one session per term in order to show patients, visitors and staff how much fun they have.

Thanks to all of our partners who have made this project possible: Bristol City Council, Parkinson’s UK, the Bristol and District Parkinson’s Group and Dance for Parkinson's UK.  

Please donate today to help support these projects which make such a difference to our patients

Donate Now

Other ways you can help

Having a clear out?

To help us deliver our projects, we’re always on the look-out for good quality materials and tools such as wool, knitting needles, and art & craft materials.

In particular, we’re looking for clean, colourful and not previously ‘knitted up’ wool.  Double knitting or thicker wools are ideal and acrylic wools are also good.  We’re also looking for donations of bamboo knitting needles.  We have no need for knitting patterns unfortunately.

Donating knitted goods

Community groups often enjoy knitting for our patients and their goods help make a hospital stay more comfortable, relaxing and homely as well as providing stimulation.

If you would like to make something for our patients, we are currently asking for:  

Blankets - elderly patients appreciate warm knitted blankets to cover their laps.  We’re looking for donations of blankets which should be 6 inch knitted squares joined together as 6 squares x 6 squares (36 squares in total)

Twiddle muffs - provide comfort and stimulation for elderly patients with dementia or cognitive impairment.  Here’s a link to a pattern and some ideas to decorate:

Wonky eyed teddies - provide comfort, stimulation and friendship for a range of patients from children visiting A&E to older people on our longer stay wards.  Download the pattern here:

You can donate any of these things to us by delivering to reception marked for the attention of the Fresh Arts Manager.  Alternatively, call us on 07554 334 828 to arrange delivery.


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