AN AMBITIOUS new project designed to explore creative ways to survive the strains of lockdown is launching across East Sussex.

Groups hardest hit by the effects of Covid-19 and the restrictions in place to slow the spread of the virus are being invited to use creative pursuits such as music, art, photography and writing, to express their feelings and connect with others.

The Everyday Creativity project, commissioned by East Sussex County Council’s public health team and supported by the authority’s cultural strategy and library teams, will be overseen by Culture Shift – a Lewes-based arts charity.

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health in East Sussex, said: “We know that health and wellbeing are influenced by many factors, although our immediate focus has been on protecting people from Covid-19 and on the pandemic response.

“Being creative, expressing yourself and having hobbies and pastimes which you enjoy are especially important in maintaining good mental and emotional health.

“The last year has been very challenging for all of us as individuals and as a society, and we wanted to work with the local arts and creative sector to bring some much-needed light into people’s everyday lives.

“Through promoting everyday activities which help people express their feelings, the challenges of lockdown, or their hopes for the future, we will also break down isolation, even if physical contact as we previously enjoyed it is not yet possible.”

The initial target groups for the project, which runs until June, include people furloughed and recently unemployed, Personal Assistants supporting people in the local community, rough sleepers, care home residents and their families, and young people aged 14-19.

Julia Roberts, Co-Director of Culture Shift, said: “We are really pleased to be delivering this project in East Sussex and applaud the Public Health team for looking for innovative ways to support people at this critical time.

“During lockdown many people have become more creative at home – from NHS rainbows, to online choirs, dance classes, sewing, gardening, cooking and photography. This collaboration will enable and encourage people to take part in simple, everyday creative activity.

“We hope that the breadth of this project will ensure that as many people as possible will benefit from the health and wellbeing benefits of everyday creativity.”

The target groups will work with creative partners and co-design creative activities and resources to be shared across East Sussex through the library service.

Councillor Rupert Simmons, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for economy, added: “We are delighted to have brought together Public Health, East Sussex Libraries and the East Sussex cultural sector to support sections of the population who are finding Covid-19 restrictions particularly difficult.

“We are pleased that over and above the positive impact this will have on the mental health of the groups we work with directly, we will also be able to share wider resources through the library service and commission local creative freelancers to deliver the work.”

Members of the public can find out more about the project by contacting Catherine Orbach or Julia Roberts, co-directors of Culture Shift at info@cultureshift.org.uk