2.8 Million Minds – a young people’s project commissioned by the GLA

Image credit: Nina Photography https://www.ninaphotography.co.uk

There are currently 2,879,900 children and young people aged 0-25 years who live in London. 

How can young people use art and culture to create change in their mental health and change how mental health care is imagined, delivered and funded?

Artist and mental health activist ‘the vacuum cleaner’ is working with Bernie Grant Arts Centre (Haringey) and Chisenhale Gallery (Tower Hamlets) to support young people in devising the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) action plan for young people and mental health through art and culture. 

Young people resident in Haringey and Tower Hamlets will participate in this pilot programme and work with world-class London-based artists Becky Warnock, Tyreis Holder, and Yomi Sode. Together, they will imagine and develop an action plan for cultural activity to benefit all of London’s 2.8 million young minds. Each artist will work with one of 3 different age ranges between 7 to 25, in three different contexts – community mental health care, a pupil referral unit and an art gallery studio setting. Over 8 weeks each artist and group will create manifestos that outline their dreams and ambitions for better mental health and how art and culture in London could support this over the next 3 years. 

In parallel to this process, artist ‘the vacuum cleaner’ will also be facilitating his ‘How can we do this better?’ events, which he piloted just before the pandemic in St Helens, known then as the suicide capital of England. Using a loose form of consensus decision making and creative thinking, these events will be a space for young people, artists, mental health professionals, youth workers and cultural providers to be in the same room and share how we can work more closely, share knowledge, access resources more easily and collectively imagine how art can serve young people and their mental health. 

The final manifestos and action plan will be shared in early Summer and are being developed with support from cultural evaluators Tara Brown and Nicola Sim.