Petition launched to save Sheffield arts therapy services

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A petition to save arts therapy funding in Sheffield has been launched after staff learned of cuts to services.

Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust is cutting cash from arts therapy services, which includes music therapy and non-traditional treatments often used to help people with mental health issues.

Sheffield art therapist Chris Wood said: “For some people making art while working alongside an art therapist can help them gain confidence and increase their self-respect.

“Arts therapists work with children, young people, and adults of all ages, with or without disabilities.

“People have used art therapy to face different kinds of distress, whether caused by abuse, depression or other serious mental health problems.

“The way of working in art therapy simply offers another potential route to recovery and it provides service users a wider choice of treatment.

“The training to be an arts therapist takes a number of years: it is a mental health approach based on the belief that everyone has an imagination and some sort of artist inside them.”

More than 700 people have already signed a petition against the cuts after a Facebook group, Save Arts Therapy Sheffield, was set up by campaigners.

Another member of staff, who did not wish to be named, said: “Any people with mental health needs find it too difficult to access traditional talking therapies.

“It is recommended in National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidelines that art therapy be offered to people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

“The Trust is ignoring the working proof that art therapy offers a valuable, effective service to people with mental health needs.

“Despite their declarations and attendance at award ceremonies for service user involvement, they did not consult service users about this decision.

“Colleagues and workers in the community teams have objected en masse by letter to the senior directors and in person and the directors say they are still to go ahead with the decision.

“This is obvious in the wider context of national austerity politics, however we are making the stance that losing the services is not worth the £90,000 saving that SHSC will make and that money is being wasted in other areas where it cold be saved instead of cutting frontline services.”

Tom Ayers, Service Director at the Trust, said: “Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, we have reluctantly taken the decision to reduce the art and music therapy resources within our community mental health teams.

“We are fully committed to maintaining and improving the quality of our services, however, we also have to balance budgets and this can involve making difficult decisions about service provision.

“We fully appreciate that this may be concerning for both service users and staff who very much value these therapies.

“We are working with colleagues to look at new ways to support, resource and deliver evidence based therapies.”

To sign the petition, go to www.tiny.cc/l2ak1x