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Sustainable Development Fund

Case Studies: Art Branches

A photo of a shipwreck in the river

The Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape is funded by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and local authorities to deliver the purposes of the National Landscape designation.  

The Sustainable Development Fund is available to a variety of local community and conservation organisations or individuals to support projects for the conservation and enhancement of the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape.  

Art Branches is a not-for-profit organisation aimed to improve people's physical and mental health and wellbeing through provision of creative group and individual workshops. 

Art Branches were awarded £2,320 from the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape Sustainable Development Fund in the 2020-21 year to deliver creative workshops, including photography walks along the River Stour and River Orwell, all with the overall aim of supporting mental health and suicide reduction campaign amongst men in urban areas of Ipswich and the Shotley Peninsula. 

The grant funding provided by the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape allowed workshops to be free to attend for men aged between 20-50, with several socially distanced workshops taking place throughout 2020 where travel restrictions allowed.

All workshops took place outdoors within the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, allowing participants to improve their photography skills, creativity, and enjoy the benefits that come from exercise and being close to nature.

A man photographing mushrooms in a wooded area
A close-up photo of mushrooms on a tree trunk

Additionally, the workshops helped those who attended to build confidence, meet people, and improve wellbeing from the social interaction with others and talking openly about mental health, all of which can help suicide reduction.

Stephanie Hartick and Art Branches explains more: “With the support of the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape funding we received, our workshops provided a chance to go outdoors and gain guided photographic skills in a relaxed setting within the beauty of the Shotley peninsular.  

For some men it was the first time coming out since first lockdown, it enabled people to mix and meet others. The careful mix of mindful photographic techniques combined with a 3 mile walk outdoors enabled participants suffering from anxiety and depression to gain maximum benefit from the workshop.  

One man bought along a camera found in his attic that he had not used for a decade and was able to take some stunning shots. Despite very wet workshop days in September and October the groups managed some brilliant photography which led to a keen interest in a new hobby. We will be running further workshops in 2021.” 

A black and white photo of an anchor and shipwreck in a river
A sunset on the horizon with birds in the foreground

Find out more and apply for a grant from the Sustainable Development Fund.