Peer Support Service's art project is picture perfect

CaptionL-R Tony Myers, creative art facilitator Sharon Marsden, Marjorie Myers, peer support co-ordinator Deborah Marshall, Margaret Walker, Jane Briggs and Tony Walker with some of the art created by the group.

An award-winning support service has been painting a stunning picture of life with dementia for a new exhibition.

Working over five weeks, members of the Peer Support Service’s art group created a series of beautiful images that have gone on show at Age UK’s Arch Café on Dortmund Square.

The 'Soul Journey' creative art sessions have also seen group members, who have all been diagnosed with dementia, produce their own poetry.

Deborah Marshall, a peer support co-ordinator who works with the group, said:

“This is a beautiful exhibition and members of the group have been proud and amazed at what they have accomplished over the five weeks.

“The project has not only given participants an opportunity to express themselves and get creative, it’s also seen people share their experiences and work together with friends who are living in a similar situation.

“It’s important that people living with dementia know that they can continue to do the things they enjoy, continue to learn new things, meet new people, share interests and have fun. That in turn helps to boost a person’s wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence.”

During the sessions, the group worked with Verd de Gris, a not-for-profit company based in Hebden Bridge, which develops stimulating and meaningful projects for older people.

Sharon Marsden, a creative art facilitator with Verd de Gris added:

“Our creative sessions took inspiration from real and ‘imagined’ landscapes and weaved together poetry, visual art, music and song, encouraging people to try something new, bringing out something beautiful and essential.

“Very often there is a perception that dementia is filled only with anxiety and confusion, devoid of joy or fulfilment.

“However, what we have experienced during our creative sessions is quite the opposite. It is a space where fear and anxiety can be transformed and where the present becomes new and fulfilling.”

A second exhibition of the artists’ work has recently been on show at the Art Space in Leeds Central Library, and was created during their time with Swarthmore Art Group.

Part of Leeds City Council’s adult social care, the Peer Support Service runs a varied programme of activities for people living with dementia in Leeds, including arts and culture, heritage and sports.

Last year, the service’s Cultural Partnership group, won the Arts in Health award at the Love Arts Leeds festival.

Those involved with the service also showcased their work with a performance at this year’s prestigious Adult Social Care Awards, held at Leeds Civic Hall.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, said:

“The Peer Support Service continues to go from strength to strength, always thinking of new and creative ways to support and engage people with dementia and this beautiful exhibition is a fine example of that.

“A dementia diagnosis can leave many people feeling worried, isolated and unsure what the future holds. That’s why projects like the Peer Support Service are so vital in reassuring them that they don’t have to cope alone by letting them know they can still live a full and active social life.”

For more information on the council’s peer support service, visit 


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