Acting for the Future: Using the Arts to Promote Intercultural Health with Refugees

Acting for the Future: Using the Arts to Promote Intercultural Health with Refugees is a unique one-year pilot project using the arts to promote Intercultural Health with Refugees in Ireland.

The project uses participative theatre-based workshops and creative processes to promote positive mental health and social inclusion with refugees from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It is delivered in the Republic of Ireland with refugees in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres (EROCs).

This project is implemented by Smashing Times in partnership with the Samaritans and is supported by the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion and Dormant Account Funds. The project supports a number of key strategic actions in the HSE Second National Intercultural Health Strategy 2018-2023 which was launched at Dublin Castle in January 2019 by Ministers of State Catherine Byrne TD and David Stanton TD. This strategy provides a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing the many unique, health and support needs experienced by the increasing numbers of HSE service users from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds who live in Ireland.

As a professional arts organisation, Smashing Times have worked for many years now in the area of participatory arts practice in health and health care settings. As part of the company’s ongoing Acting for the Future programme Smashing Times have implemented a range of successful projects across Ireland and Northern Ireland using the arts to promote active health lifestyles, positive mental health and wellbeing and suicide prevention. We have conducted this work since 2005 in partnership with the Samaritans and currently work with a range of organisations including the Samaritans, ESB Energy for Generations Fund, Arklow Mental Health Week and Sea Change. We engage with people from all ages and cultures with a view to promoting access to high quality arts practice and to promoting each person’s health and wellbeing within an inclusive, respectful environment.

Smashing Times are very grateful for the support of the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion for their vision and integrity in relation to supporting the role of the arts within intercultural health care practice, promoting positive mental health and well-being with refugees in Ireland.

As artists and health care professionals working in arts and health, we are aware of the benefits of building a partnership approach to the work and of the need to create ongoing dialogue around the promotion of best practice with a focus on planning, delivery, reflection and evaluation. A key component of the work is to engage in ongoing dialogue and consultation with the participants that we work with and we are extremely grateful for their participation in the work.

As part of the year-long project Smashing Times have created a good practice workshop model and resource tools suitable for project work with refugees and asylum seekers and which will soon be made applicable and available throughout the island of Ireland.