Arty-Folks is an award-winning charity, founded in 1995, by a user of mental health services in collaboration with a community artist. Since it began, it has delivered an uninterrupted service to adults in Coventry and Warwickshire who feel at a low point in life and are struggling with mental health challenges. It supports over 500 people per year through a programme of arts and wellbeing activities.
Cranfield Trust has been supporting Arty-Folks for the last five years and has completed eight engagements with the charity during that time, enabling it to develop and excel as an organisation.
Our first engagement with Arty-Folks was in 2017 when they requested support in developing a business plan to secure more stable funding that would enable the charity to develop and grow its services for its beneficiaries. Our West Midlands project manager at the time matched Arty-Folks with Hayley Cartwright as their volunteer consultant. The charity’s founder and CEO, Lorella Medici, said this:
“Hayley has been absolutely amazing. It is difficult to step into a small charity like ours and understand the challenges we are facing but the Cranfield Trust matched us up with a volunteer who truly 'got' us from the start. She moved the project at a good pace and she worked with us in a way that helped us define a clear vision for the future we all feel excited about.”
The charity returned to us twice in 2018 for support with governance, and in improving its structures and systems. The following year, Lorella made two further requests for support with HR and – during the peak of the pandemic – with producing webinars and managing video conferencing. Lorella recalls that the earlier work on processes and risk assessment proved critical during the crisis and helped them through thus enabling the charity to maintain its commitment to people whose struggles with mental health were exacerbated by the isolation of lockdowns. In 2021, Lorella asked us to help with improving the charity’s IT for remote working ensuring data security and resilience, and subsequently, support in their migration to an updated online version of QuickBooks.
In 2021, Cranfield Trust volunteer, Ceylan Thompson, who was supporting Arty-Folks with their IT, joined the Board of Trustees and Hayley Cartwright – now project manager for Cranfield Trust – joined Arty-Folks to support them with a major contract, enabling the charity to move ahead with its ambitions. Hayley said:
“I first volunteered with Arty-Folks in 2017, impressed with the success of their art programme proven by solid metrics. I love working with a fantastic team knowing that Arty-Folks’ work has a lasting impact.”
Since our first engagement with the charity in 2017, Arty-Folks has secured funding from the People’s Health Trust, the Heart of England Community Foundation and the European Social Fund. In 2019, it won an ‘Investing in Volunteering’ Award from NVCO, and in 2020 it won a contract from Warwickshire County Council to deliver its ‘Art for Wellbeing’ programme – a ‘dream come true’ for the Arty-Folks team.
Our first conversations with Lorella were around positioning the charity to secure more stable funding that would enable it to grow and develop its services to help more people in crisis. Five years later, with ongoing support from Cranfield Trust and through the dedication and hard work of the charity’s team and volunteers, Arty-Folks has achieved just that, and is now in a strong and resilient position to lead the way in arts and health provision as an exemplar of strategic ambition built on solid foundations of good practice.