Using arts media to develop ‘community’ between people across boundaries in a series of projects from 1993 – 2002, a BCA team of professionals and volunteers carried out a wide range of projects using arts activities and simple listening skills with clients, care staff, school and business volunteers in residential homes, day centres, educational settings and in businesses. BCA’s innovative use of John Heron’s Cooperative Enquiry method (a cycle of ‘idea, action and review’) was a key element in the process.

The benefits to all involved have been multiple and long lasting. Clients benefited by the introduction of new attitudes towards ‘activities’; care staff, whose focus has often been limited to physical care, were helped to realise a more creative attitude to their day to day routines. The BCA Team and community volunteers, including those recruited from business and schools, gained insights and skills, and satisfaction from knowing they helped to make a difference.

Organisations BCA worked with include:

Central and Cecil Housing Trust, The Grand residential home for older people, Holly Lodge special needs centre, Richmond-upon-Thames social services, the Royal Star and Garter home, Central London Psychology Society, Waldegrave School for girls, Grey Court School Richmond, Birkbeck Extra-Mural Psychology class, British Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Chamber of Commerce Richmond, and National Westminster Bank.

Sponsors included:

The Arts Council, Bio Products Laboratory, Carers National (Richmond Branch), Council of Voluntary Service Richmond, DisAbility Times, Glaxo-Wellcome, Kew Baptist Church, the Lottery Millenium Fund, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Orange Tree Theatre, READY, Richmond Parish Lands Charity, South London Industrial Mission and the West London Training and Enterprise Council. Support from Electronic Data Systems (EDS), an American multinational information technology equipment and services company headquartered in Plano, Texas was also significant and continues to have an impact.

We would love to see this work continue so if you have experiences to share or questions about applying the processes in your own settings, please do get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.