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Engagement in culture events key to mental wellbeing

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have found that the city’s Capital of Culture projects have had a positive impact on the mental well-being of local people.

Experts held a number of workshops for Liverpool residents aimed at identifying the positive and negative effects of the projects. The research revealed that community events filled local people with pride and a renewed commitment to the city.

The study examined the impacts of involving local people in decision-making processes and meeting individuals from all social and ethnic backgrounds. Projects such as ‘G-litter’, which encouraged local people and businesses to pick up litter across the city, and ‘Four Corners of the City’, in which memories of community life were shared through creative arts, were some of the projects found to have a positive impact on mental well-being.

Helen West, from the Mental Well-Being Impact Assessment group at the University of Liverpool, said: “Issues such as low esteem and lack of motivation can result from inequalities within a community, which we found to have a negative impact on mental well-being. By using culture as a tool to connect different parts of the community, however, people felt valued and encouraged to share their goals.

“The study was designed to help local policy makers develop projects that challenged discrimination, inequalities and cultural attitudes. We also identified ways of offering practical support to communities who wanted to be more involved in the city and improve the area in which they lived.

“On the whole, Capital of Culture programmes have had a very positive effect on mental health; negativity towards events and initiatives only arises when communities feel they have not been considered in the development of a scheme. Culture in Liverpool would not be what it is without its people and so it is important to include them at every level.”

Charlotte Roberts | alfa
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