Canterbury Museums and Galleries are all about wellness. We know that university isn’t easy for every student, and we’re kicking off a brand new volunteering project which is designed especially for students who have anxiety funded by the Museums Association Esme Fairbairn Collections Fund. The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund is run by the Museums Association, fundings projects that develop collections to achieve social impact.

Since 2013, The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge has been working on projects to promote health and wellbeing. This includes becoming a national Happy Museum, winning The Collections Trust and Historypin Best Participatory Practice National Award for its Paper Apothecary Project and being invited to give evidence to the All Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Enquiry at The House of Lords.

In 2015, The Beaney was selected along with 5 other museums to embark on a 4 year study as part of The Happy Museum project to investigate the impact of wellbeing and sustainability on individual, organisational and community resilience.

Building on this success, The Beaney continues to develop this award-winning Health and Well-being programme as part of an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation 4-year funded project to expand its Health and Well-being offer.

The aim is to fully establish The Beaney as a therapeutic museum, extend its current provision and to celebrate and highlight the positive benefits of its health and wellbeing work.

This project will last eighteen months and begin with a review of our stored art collection, which includes work by Henry Moore, David Hockney, and a wide selection of Old Masters. Following our established system, our volunteers will record each object or group of objects in the museum’s art collection, including taking photographs of every piece. Working with museum staff and art experts, our volunteers will research the collection so we can work out how best to share it with the general public in future. We will also help our volunteers produce a piece of work for the public to celebrate their achievements during the project. Our volunteers will choose what they would like our help to produce, whether it’s an exhibition, trail, or even a digital project.

In the past, our volunteers have reported that working with museum objects has helped their confidence, and wider evidence has shown that volunteering has a positive effect for people with anxiety. We hope this project will result in an upturn for our volunteers’ mental health. We would like to gather evidence for this by asking volunteers to participate in an evaluation exercise as the project progresses.

We’d like volunteers to commit to one volunteering session a week during term time, essays and health permitting. A session lasts two to two and a half hours, one morning or afternoon a week.

If you are interested in participating, please email Coralie Clover, Collections Assistant (Esmee Fairbairn Fund), at Coralie.Clover@canterbury.gov.uk by the 31st of March. Volunteers will be accepted on a first come, first served basis – please tell us which morning or afternoon you would be available during the week.

We look forward to hearing from you!