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Norfolk's mental health history marked by new creations

Some of the Change Minds project finished pieces.

Published: Monday, 17th July 2023

Young people in west Norfolk have completed the first Change Minds project to be held in King’s Lynn. The public are now invited to Stories of Lynn to view the artwork that’s been created.

The Change Minds project uses sets of records, held by the Norfolk Record Office. In this case, the records of patients who were resident in the Norfolk County Asylum in Thorpe St Andrew were used for the research element of the project.

Luke Shackell, Archivist at the Borough Archives based inside King’s Lynn Town Hall, explains:

“The Change Minds project, run in partnership with the Restoration Trust, connects people living with mental health issues to local heritage, historic places and archives.

“The aim of this particular project is to encourage people who have a lived experience of ill mental health, and have an interest in history and local heritage, to learn new research and creative skills. Here they have worked with the Norfolk Record Office, Norfolk Museum Service’s Kick the Dust project and the College of West Anglia.”

In the 12-session programme students looked at casebooks of the old St Andrew’s Hospital near Norwich, which acted as the County Asylum and where residents of King’s Lynn were sent for treatment in the 19th century. Participants, mostly from the College of West Anglia, developed their research skills by learning about the individual they’re following, their wider family life, and the history of the asylum system in Britain. The latter part of the course is spent working on a creative response to what they have learnt. This is through artwork, short stories, craft work, or anything else appropriate.

Rachael Williams, Learning and Engagement Officer at Stories of Lynn, added:

“This project has encouraged friendship, curiosity and imagination in our students, and I'd urge people to come and see the incredible creations while they're on display here at the museum. It has been fascinating to watch the participants growing in confidence and using and developing their skills to create a unique response.”  

Visitors to Stories of Lynn will be able to see the finished creations on display at Stories of Lynn from 17 July.

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