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Creative wellbeing for healthcare professionals at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) has a workforce of over 28,000 clinicians, support staff and healthcare professionals employed in ten hospitals over six sites. It is the provider of hospital care to approximately 750,000 people in Manchester and Trafford and the single biggest provider of specialised services in the North-West of England.

Pandemic related social restrictions were impacting on both camaraderie and work life balance across the Trust’s workforce and a new approach to support NHS staff wellbeing was needed.  Create.Connect.Unwind (CCU) was the result of a partnership between MFT’s Employee Health and Wellbeing Service and Lime. The project enables NHS staff access to creative activity that enriches mental wellbeing, supports peer interactions and normalises discussion surrounding mental health.

Create.Connect.Unwind  was selected by think-tank Public Policy Projects in 2021 for inclusion in the ‘State of a Nation’ report, as an exemplar UK case study supporting NHS staff mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

CCU Programme Highlights 2021-2022: 

  • 136 creative wellbeing workshops provided for NHS staff
  • Over 800 NHS staff participate in the co-creation of new artworks
  • Over 20 new artists employed to deliver and facilitate the CCU workshop programme
  • Several commissioned performance artworks co-created with staff to directly address the stigma around mental illness in the NHS
  • A new collection of artworks co-created with MFT staff and collaborating artists including printed/visual and written works, theatre, performance art, sound art, dance and music.
  • The inaugural Arts + Wellbeing Festival + symposium at MFT
  • Over 17,000 healthcare professionals engaged in creative activity overall


  • 93% of participants agreed the workshops gave them a greater sense of wellbeing
  • 92% of participants agreed the workshop helped them to relax
  • 95% of participants agreed that being able to access arts activity at work is important
  • 93% of participants stated how accessing arts activities at work made them feel valued by their employer
  • 94% of participants agreed workshops provided an opportunity to learn new skills
  • 74% of participants agreed face to face workshops helped staff feel more connected to colleagues
  • 100% of participants responded that their likelihood of attending future workshops was either 4 or 5 out of 5

Create.Connect.Unwind continues to provide a varied and popular activity programme for MFT staff including artist led creative wellbeing workshops, team building workshops and away days, hospital art tours, and drop-in creative wellbeing taster sessions aimed at MFT managers, plus an annual hospital based Arts + Wellbeing Festival + Symposium.

For more information about Lime’s staff wellbeing programme visit the Lime Arts Portal 

“It felt very relaxed, there was no rush and it was nice having the sounds/music in the background. At the time my family were self isolating following advice from test and trace. It was a challenging week, and it was a lovely mindful escape to do the foraging stamping/printing session.”

Healthcare Scientist


“It was wonderful to have the opportunity to create some art after a stressful day at work. It helped me relax, put things into perspective, and help me reflect on how I’ve been feeling. Everyone should try this!”

Macmillan Matron at MFT