Southbank Centre has launched Art by Post, a pilot scheme to provide isolated people, who do not have digital access, with free creative activities packs.
Inspired by Southbank Centre's visual art, literature, poetry and archive collections, the packs are designed to keep minds active, helping individuals feel connected to others and improving their mental health and wellbeing.
Art by Post aims to encourage artistic expression during lockdown and an opportunity for isolated people to share their work in a new exhibition when the Southbank Centre reopens.
Announced as part of Southbank Centre's Mental Health Awareness Week Programme, Art by Post, gives a platform and voice to a hidden community, inviting them to reflect on the experience of social isolation that many people will be continuing to live with.
The activities are designed specifically for people living with dementia but the project is also open to those with other chronic health conditions.
Since launching the project, Art By Post has so far reached 400 isolated people and Southbank Centre hopes to extend the scheme to reach even more socially isolated individduals.
The project is being supported by the National Academy for Social Prescribing, Age UK Camden, Age UK Lambeth, Resonate Arts, Nightingale Hammerson and Coin Street Community Builders.
Southbank Centre has also announced that it is joining the Jo Cox Connection Coalition as part of a network of organisations working to build meaningful connections and tackle loneliness during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
"It's clear that the COVID-19 crisis has affected the arts and culture sector in many more ways than we ever thought possible," said Alexandra Brierley, Southbank Centre's director of creative learning.
"While we've all taken to online platforms to get our 'culture fix', this has exposed a huge digital divide, with some of the country's most isolated communities unable to access art at home.
"While we know we can't replace direct human contact and believe passionately in the wellbeing benefits that interaction with live music and art can bring, we hope this brand-new scheme will go some way to supporting those most in need at this time of unprecedented human challenge.
"We look forward to being able to champion the creative responses from isolated people who have taken part in Art by Post and provide a platform for their voices via an exhibition when our doors re-open."
Details of how to sign up to Art by Post – either for yourself or on behalf of someone else – can be found on the Southbank Centre website.
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