DreamArts transforms young lives through arts and therapy. We create inspiring spaces where young people across Westminster can express themselves on their own terms, explore their challenges and build their strengths so they can realise their potential.
There is a growing wellbeing need amongst young people, highlighted in recent research by Young Minds that 1 in 3 young people have experienced mental health difficulties. As needs grow the support available is shrinking, with 25% of young people referred to NHS mental health services are turned away. Children in poverty are 4 times more likely to develop mental health problems, and Westminster where DreamArts has worked for almost two decades suffers the 5th highest level of child poverty in the UK.
To help meet this need DreamArts has developed a powerful programme of award-winning projects that empower vulnerable 7-25 year olds to make positive life changes, develop healthy relationships, and explore who they are. This is achieved by pioneering the fusion of arts and arts therapy. We know that ‘therapy’ can carry stigmas for people of all backgrounds. DreamArts provides a safe space where young people and in some cases their families can use the arts to explore their strengths and differences in a way they don’t feel exposed. Consequently they are more likely to engage, using creativity to reflect on their lives, understand their challenges and make a change.
DreamArts is an agile and highly skilled outreach organisation and our programmes have a proven track record of engaging those from social and ethnic backgrounds who traditionally don’t engage with the arts. Express Collective enables young people ‘at risk’ to choose an issue and a creative medium in which to explore solutions, e.g. young women at risk of sexual exploitationdeveloped the OiiMysize campaign highlighting issues of sexting and were awarded the 2014 Nominet Award for Making the Internet a Safer Place. We also deliver 1:1 arts therapy supporting young people to address issues including domestic violence and suicide, and our Family Express projects empower parents and children to work together and build stronger families. Experiment Creative Labs take place at the weekend where members devise their own work – from new musicals to short films and visual arts – and we nurture our creative entrepreneurs of the future through Expand.
The communities that DreamArts benefit have the highest levels of child poverty in London and suffer crime and unemployment and low educational attainment. We work in partnership with a strong network of charities, social services, schools and arts organisations, with parents and, most importantly, with young people themselves to help meet their needs. DreamArts has been designated a Core Partner by Westminster Early Help Service which enables us to reach the most vulnerable young people. We train our skilled arts facilitators, support workers and therapists in the ‘DreamArts Way,’ combining arts-based practice with aspects of neuroscience theory, enabling rich relationships that engage those with complex needs and helps participants reflect on themselves.
The way we bring together arts and therapy has been carefully thought through and our Theory of Change shapes our projects and enables us to evidence the difference we make on young lives. Furthermore we’re proud our impact has been validated by The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama who concluded; ‘DreamArts is a model of exemplary practice. It has a profound impact on the lives of young people and is able to improve the life chances for those most at risk within society’.