8 Feb 2017
The second annual mental health arts festival ‘Walls, Muriau’ took place at the Millennium Centre in November.
It was a partnership between Disability Arts Cymru, which
organised the event, and Voluntary Arts Wales which
recruited and supported volunteers to ensure that all ran
The festival provided a 'safe space' to explore a variety of
issues through performance, seminars, workshops, visual media and
interactive sessions. Many of the artists performing had 'lived
experience' of mental ill health, which influences their
As part of the Volunteering
Spirit Wales project Voluntary Arts Wales set out to
develop volunteer recruitment management processes that would
support this event and which would also provide a model way of
working for future festivals of this kind.
One of the challenges was recognised as being to provide the right
support for people whose mental health may be
Janina Kukzys, volunteer co-ordinator said 'we
thought the content of some performances and sessions might
perhaps trigger adverse responses in those attending. It was
important to be ready for that'.
Volunteers were invited to attend prior training which focussed on
mental health awareness with a session on etiquette in working with
disabled people. On the day a quiet room was made available
for anyone who needed 'time out' from the fray. Mental Health First
Aiders were to hand and volunteers knew who these were and how to
find them if needed. All volunteers were briefed on the day
about who to respond to different situation and were given lanyards
with emergency information.
As it turned out, the quiet room was barely used and, thankfully
the first aiders were not needed, but having a well prepared
volunteer and staff team surely helped to create such an
inclusive and welcoming friendly 'safe space' .
Frances, a complementary therapist and a poet, is passionate about
the importance of artistic expression for our mental wellbeing. She
volunteered to help out at two days of the
'I thought that as a volunteer we would be standing and
observing, so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to join in with
the sessions' she said.