Publish date: 4 August 2022

Students’ artworks with wellbeing focus unveiled at Berwick hospital site

A group of children and two adults standing next to some outdoor artwork.

Graffiti-inspired artworks by students at Berwick Academy covering health and wellbeing themes are brightening up hoardings where work is ongoing on the town’s new hospital.

The art now on display at the Berwick Infirmary site was created by a group of Year 9 students during lockdown. They used their learning about graffiti art in a bid to decorate the area around the hospital and share messages about important health issues.

Describing the ideas behind the artworks, which are based on three themes - physical health, emotional wellbeing and mental health, the students involved said: “It is important to try to make people not feel alone and we have tried to do it in a bright, colourful, and helpful way with our art designs.

“It’s important to understand and try to help people who suffer from any health issues, anxieties and stress, especially during a pandemic. It is also important for people to know that ‘graffiti’ doesn’t always have to be vandalism and people like Banksy, Keith Haring and us can use it to give positive messages and make people think.”

Former teacher Pauline Plenderleith, who managed the project for the academy, said: “This was a fantastic project to work on as it really showcased the links between art and wellbeing, which was even more important during the pandemic, when many people may have found it difficult to cope with isolation and anxiety.

“It was a real privilege to work on this partnership project as the academy and the infirmary both play such key roles at the heart of the town. We were proud that the involved students also gained recognition via the national Pearson World Changers Awards at the time too, for their involvement in this community enterprise.”

The project was supported by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Bright charity, which for the past 20 years has developed an award-winning healing arts programme. It uses art as a therapeutic medium to improve the hospital environment for patients, visitors, staff and the local community.

Brenda Longstaff, head of the Bright charity, said: “We know the key role that art can play in supporting patients and visitors to our hospitals, so it’s great that we are able to take it outside as well and brighten up this area while work continues on the new hospital.

“It was also really worthwhile involving the young people in this project as they have their own views and experiences of health and wellbeing, and we are going to be working with more students from Berwick Academy moving forward.”

The ongoing work is part of a £30million project to build a state-of-the-art new hospital to serve communities in Berwick and beyond. Originally built in 1874, the current infirmary is no longer suitable for the efficient delivery of modern-day healthcare.

The new purpose-built hospital will re-provide all the existing services, with the addition of an accredited endoscopy suite to deliver care closer to people’s homes, as well as housing GP practice Well Close Medical Group.

Media contact

Ben O’Connell, media and communications officer, Northumbria Healthcare

Benjamin.O' or 07833 046680.