The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is programmed by people from all across Scotland. To celebrate this year’s Connected theme, we want to introduce you to some of them. Today, we meet Sheila Newcombe from Angus.

Where are you from and what do you do?

I’m from Angus Voice and I work part-time as Participation Development Worker. We used lived experience to influence and shape services locally, and to raise awareness of mental ill health, and also challenge stigma. Our involvement in SMHAF this year started when Angus Voice and See Me jointly hosted a co-creation event back in November. One of the two main priorities identified on that day was to ‘do something’ as part of SMHAF 2019 in Angus.

What does Connected, SMHAF’s theme this year, mean to you?

We’ve worked as a co-creation team, and connected with others – individuals and organisations along the way. Just like the old folk tale about Stone Soup, A Celebration of Creativity has been made possible through the involvement of many different people, in many different ways – all stemming from the various connections we have. We’re also delighted to see how so many different people, groups and organisations have connected with A Celebration of Creativity – artists, people with lived experience, community groups, local organisations and more. Work exhibited comes from across the age ranges, the youngest being primary school age, and the oldest being 70+. We sometimes hear people describe Angus as a place of places, so starting from the initial exhibition and then parts of it being moved to different parts of Angus also fits with the theme of connected.  

How long have you been putting on events at this festival, and what made you get involved?

This is the first year I/we’ve been involved in SMHAF. It’s something we knew about, and there might have been occasional events held locally in Angus during the period of SMHAF, but in the past there had been no formal link made to SMHAF.

Can you give us an example – more than one if you like – of an event in your area that sums up the spirit of the festival?

Angus Creative Minds: A Celebration of Creativity sums up the spirit of the festival for us, and especially this year’s theme of Connected.  

Who or what do you feel most connected to?

At a personal level I have a strong feeling of connection to nature, and feel so lucky to live in Angus – with amazing landscapes and wildlife from the coast to the lochs and the mountains.  Working with others on A Celebration of Creativity has had a major impact on my feelings of connection to others too.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?

Every day is different, and our planning has been very organic. For me, that means I’m really excited about seeing the exhibition all together in one place ahead of the preview and opening to the public.  

Click here to find out more about events taking place in Angus as part of SMHAF 2019. 

Header image is by Robbie, part of a creative group of young people aged 5-12, exploring wellbeing and wishes. Dan Dare Pilot of the Future is by Evan at Kirrie Connections’ Dementia Friendly Project.