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Posted on the 22nd April 2021

Community wellbeing project given the green light

Residents of Lancashire and South Cumbria will now have access to mental health programme, Phoenix Rising, which aims to improve wellbeing through visual art, nature, mindfulness and creative workshops.

The project, now in its second year, has received new funding from the Arts Council England’s Thriving Communities Fund, after ‘The Phoenix Project’ saw huge success in 2020. The range of free, online and interactive workshops accessible from home is the brainchild of Green Close - a not for profit visual arts and health engagement organisation based in north Lancashire – who launched the initiative in collaboration with Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust’s (LSCft) Recovery College in summer last year.

The 2021 programme sees the addition of Preston-based yoga and wellbeing service Mandala, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, and The Gathering Fields which aims to bring a new offering to the sessions.

Launching this year, programmes will last six weeks and be available over the next 12 months offering a wide range of sessions including arts, nature and physical wellbeing.

Recovery College senior operations manager for LSCft, Suzie Smith said: “We are thrilled The Phoenix Project has been recognised for its impact in 2020, enabling us to deliver Phoenix Rising as we emerge from lockdown.

“It’s important now more than ever to provide services and programmes for those struggling with their mental health. The collaboration between the Trust, Green Close, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Mandala is such a great opportunity to bring different elements of art, nature, mindfulness, creativity and mental wellbeing into one space.”

Sue Flowers, artistic director at Green Close and creator of The Phoenix Project, said: “We are delighted that we are able to deliver our workshops again. During the project’s first year we demonstrated the power of the visual arts in increasing wellbeing. Now we are able to work with partners to devise a longer and more inspiring offer for local people that will have art, nature and movement at its heart.

“Phoenix Rising will enable us to provide a safe supportive space for people to come together to be creative while learning how to understand ourselves, express our emotions and support our wellbeing.”

The project pilot in 2020 saw a series of creative workshops, led by 23 contemporary visual artists, who explored ways of using the visual arts to engage with people and enhance their mental wellbeing. In total 75 workshops were delivered, to the benefit of 125 participants. Lancaster University produced The Phoenix Project evaluation, which can be viewed here.

Chief Executive of Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, Caroline Donovan said: “This was a fantastic project that really created an impact throughout the Lancashire and South Cumbria communities. Now we are able to launch the programme for a second time with the aim of continuing the great work achieved by so many collaborators.”

The yearlong programme will commence in June 2021 with some taster sessions for the Kirkby Lonsdale area starting at the end of April.

For more information on Phoenix Rising or Green Close and eligibility, visit: or contact Sue Flowers on


Picture: Front row L-R: Helen Leece (The Gathering Fields) Sue Flowers (Green Close)

Back row L-R: Shaun Everitt (Lancashire Recovery College) Jenny Reddell (Lancashire Wildlife Trust) and Emma Lowther-Wright (Mandala Preston)