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Self-Advocacy Skills Training at CoolTan Arts wins the ‘Strengthening Citizen Voice’ category at the Mental Health Providers Forum (MHPF) Best Practice Awards 2015

MHPF Award 2015CoolTan Arts are delighted to announce that our Self Advocacy Skills Training programme for adults with mental distress has been given the award for ‘Strengthening Citizen Voice’ at the Mental Health Providers Forum Best Practice Awards 2015.

The weekly Self-Advocacy programme (“Skills For a Stronger Voice”), running since February 2010, develops participants’ skills, confidence, and knowledge of their rights and awareness of services. Its aim is to enable people disadvantaged by mental-distress to self-direct their social and mental-health care, so they can live their lives more autonomously.

The project trains participants in practical life skills such as effective communication and assertiveness, alongside specific subjects e.g. managing personal finances, budgets and debts, The Mental Health Act, preparing for changes to health care provision and the benefits system.

Skills gained on the course enable participants to advocate on issues affecting their own lives rather than rely on others making decisions for their wellbeing. Many participants say they had little previous experience of this or lacked confidence due to their mental health.

Course training modules are designed by the course participants in focus groups, which address current needs and aspirations. Prior participants have developed and delivered their own workshops to the group using knowledge and skills gained.

This is the second award from the Mental Health Providers Forum for CoolTan’s Self Advocacy project, having won the ‘Best Practice in Peer Support Development’ category in 2013.

Michelle Baharier, CEO at CoolTan Arts said: – “We are very excited to win this award and were commended on our innovation and creativity by the judges. During this time of great change to benefits and services it is very important that people have a place where they can learn how to assert and use their rights. It is essential that we can find funding to continue this service, keeping people well and out of hospital and delivering great social benefit for the whole community”

CoolTan Arts would like to thank the funders of this project, The Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and the Alan and Babette Sainsbury Charitable Fund.

For this vital project to continue to be free at point of access beyond May CoolTan is currently looking for further funding and donations. To support CoolTan Arts with a donation please visit:

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Voluntary Give & Win Lottery


CoolTan Arts is very pleased to announce the launch of our new fundraising lottery.

For just £2 by playing you can help support CoolTan Arts. Enter and you could win £25,000, with an additional £25,000 going to our cause!

Join us by playing here!

Playing our lottery can help us fund our valuable work, 50% of each ticket goes directly to fund our services.

Please support us and tell your friends to do so too.

Good luck in the draw, and many thanks for your support.




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CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle – I Have a Dream Walk (Rights and Equality)

HousingProtest Image

Saturday April 18th 2015
11.45am – 4pm

Start: Tate Modern (outside The Turbine Hall entrance), Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Ends: Walworth
Cost: free/voluntary donation
This month the Largactyl Shuffle will look at Rights and Equality in the ‘I Have a Dream Walk’
The guided walk will include talks about the campaign to abolish the slave trade, civil rights, the state of the NHS, homelessness, and will end at the Aylesbury Estate with a talk about the current housing crisis.

CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle is a guided, stigma-busting cultural walk, designed to encourage mental and physical wellbeing, through art, exercise, humour and history.

CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle is a guided, stigma-busting cultural walk, designed to encourage mental and physical wellbeing, through art, exercise, humour and history.
The walk is suitable for all levels of walking and is accessible to wheelchair users and people with disabilities. Join us for as long or as little as you like.

The walk leaders wear orange high-viz vests and rucksacks. Call CoolTan Arts on 07985 658443 if you cannot find the walking group on the day.


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CoolTan Arts at the Affordable Art Fair

CoolTan had a brilliant time at the Affordable Art Fair opening on the 11th March. All proceeds benefitted us as the charity beneficiary and we are really grateful to the Affordable Art Fair for this opportunity.

We’d also like to thank everyone who bought a ticket and supported us. It was a great night and our stall got a lot of attention with all the wonderful pieces of work donated by CoolTan artists and the galleries who supported us including the Hicks Gallery (Peter Blake), Art Connection(Barbara Van den Berg), Chuck Elliott, Daniel Baharier, and Vera Schumacher Fine Art (Luis Mariano SCER).

We were  also really honoured to have our patron Maggi Hambling opening the event for us.

Our video group made a video of the evening which you can see online here:

Here are some photos of the evening:

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CoolTan Arts wins national award for improving mental wellbeing

GSK_IMPACT_2015_winnerCoolTan Arts has won a GSK IMPACT Award, which includes £30,000 in unrestricted funding. Beating over 350 organisations to win the accolade, which recognises excellence in charities working in health and wellbeing, CoolTan Arts was recognised for their work helping transform people’s lives through creativity, self-advocacy and volunteer opportunities.

The award comes at a crucial time for CoolTan Arts as mental health services have experienced massive cuts during the last few years. This change has caused the closure of many local services and impacted on CoolTan’s capacity. This funding boost will go a long way towards enabling us to continue to support people, save lives and run innovative and exciting projects as we approach our 25th year.

Southwark has significant numbers of people living with mental distress, like depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety. CoolTan Arts support people dealing with a wide range of issues, many of whom are receiving benefits and are rough sleepers. We run creative workshops, exhibitions and public art projects, and offers training workshop, which provide participants with the skills to challenge discrimination, and to access services to which they are entitled.

As well as helping service users directly, we work to publicly challenge stigmas and highlight issues faced by people with mental health problems. For example, our ‘Making it Happen’ project explored participant’s experiences of using personal budgets for their own health and well-being needs. The project also helped participants to make films and podcasts about the difficulties and anxieties they face.

The GSK IMPACT Awards, in partnership with The King’s Fund are designed to recognise the outstanding work of community-based health and wellbeing charities. In addition to the recognition and funding provided by the award, CoolTan Arts will have access to training and development managed by The King’s Fund, estimated to be worth a further £6,000. We will also be invited to also join the GSK IMPACT Awards Network. The Network supports more than 60 award-winning charities with the opportunity to develop their leaders, share and learn from each other’s experiences and expertise, and build the recognition of their contribution to their communities.

CoolTan Arts will receive our prize at a ceremony held at the Science Museum in London on Thursday 14th May, along with the other nine winners. An overall winner, who will receive a further £10,000 in unrestricted funding, will be revealed on the night.

Michelle Baharier, Chief Executive Officer at CoolTan Arts, said:
‘CoolTan Arts transforms people’s lives from being a medical label to being a whole person, building a positive identity able to contribute to their wider community as a member. We do this by facilitating creative opportunities in a safe and welcoming space, assisting people to maintain their well-being so they can stay well and out of hospital. We are really proud to have received this award which gives recognition to our valuable work. We are approaching our 25th year and we believe the impact of this award will ensure we will reach our 50th.’

Lisa Weaks, Third Sector Manager at The King’s Fund, said:
‘CoolTan Arts has managed to fuse creativity with support for people with mental health problems in ways which show innovation and real care. It is absolutely embedded in its community and is exemplary in supporting those who traditional services find hard to reach. It is a continually developing user-led organisation which is tackling stigma and helping to build recovery. This award is well deserved.’

A judging panel of health and charity experts who chose the winners included broadcast journalist Fiona Phillips; Gilly Green, Head of UK Grants at Comic Relief; Sir Christopher Gent, Chair of GSK, and Sir Chris Kelly, Chair of The King’s Fund.

For more information on the GSK IMPACT Awards go to

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Women’s Day 2015 – A Photo Review

CoolTan Arts celebrated Women’s Day in style this year with a packed programme of events organised by our volunteer group. Visitors enjoyed an interesting talk about women and mental health from our self advocacy group and then took part in an excellent craft workshop, making tshirts, cards and LED headbands. Later on there was a lively discussion on feminism today with guests from the Feminist Library and Goldsmiths University and the showing of a new film about feminism made by our film group ( available to watch here). The day finished with an energetic exercise class and the opening of our latest art exhibition ’21st Century Women’. All in all a great success!

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NEW: Men’s Cooking – Evening Sessions

29CoolTan are starting a new Men’s Cooking Session exploring healthy eating and quick and simple recipes.

This will run on Tuesdays evenings from 6-9pm starting from 2nd week in April. Open to all men with experience of mental distress.

If you are interested in attending, or you have clients who may be interested, please contact Olivia: Tel: 020 7701 2696.

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“Healing Words” workshop with Rachel Kelly

Rachel-Kelly-forwe_2906960b“Healing Words” workshop with Rachel Kelly
At CoolTan Arts, Third Floor, 224-236 Walworth Road, SE17 1JE.
Friday 13th and Friday 20th March and  Friday 17th and Friday 24th April between 12-1pm.

We are very pleased to welcome back Rachel Kelly – journalist, author, workshop leader and ambassador for SANE.

Many of you might have seen Rachel at our Peace Day event, when she came to talk about her experience of mental distress, her poetry workshops and her book, Black Rainbow, which tells the story of how she overcame depression through poetry. The event was a great success and we are pleased to announce Rachel has offered to come back and run workshops in March and April at CoolTan Arts.

To sign up for this free set of workshops looking at how healing words can help with wellbeing please contact or call 020 7701 2696.

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CoolFruit – Spring Issue out now!


The next issue of CoolFruit: The CoolTan Arts Review is out now! 

As the first green shoots push up from the earth we take Hope as our theme for this Spring issue. Read how Rachel Kelly discovered poetry as a route to wellbeing and how Caroline Sparrey overcame selective mutism.

Learn about CoolTan’s innovative Wellness project which can help you spring-clean your life, and about those fighting back against London’s housing crisis.

Investigate what it means to be a 21st Century Woman, learn to draw a spring-time bunny and enjoy Sunil Chauhan’s selection of Songs for Hope. Plus – Artist’s profiles, poetry, recipes and more!!

Join our mailing list to receive a copy to your email as soon as it’s available: contact

You can read previous issues of CoolFruit here:

New!! Follow CoolFruit on Twitter @CoolFruitMgz


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CoolWalks – New Dates


CoolTan are excited to have new CoolWalks coming up in April 2015.
CoolWalks are guided walks for wellbeing, giving participants to opportunity to get to know more about their local area’s history and their local Southwark libraries.

Freedom walk

CoolTan Arts CoolWalks welcomes you along on our free guided journey through Peckham’s hidden rural and literary history and to discover SE15’s amazing number of green and open spaces.  Learn new things, make friends, get fit and have fun.

CoolTan CoolWalks – Literature & Green Spaces
•    Saturday 11th, April 2015 at 12:30pm.
•    Thursday 30th, April 2015 at 12:30pm.

We start at Peckham Library,  at 12:30pm and finish at Cafe on the Rye, Peckham Rye around 3:00pm.
Bus: 12, 36, 37, 63, 78, 136, 171, 177, 197, 343, 345, 363, 381, 436, P12, P13
Rail: Train to Peckham Rye
020 7701 2696

The walk is approximately 3 miles and is suitable and accessible for all walkers.  We ask participants to bring a bottle of water, wear sensible walking footwear and weather appropriate clothing.

Full details on, or email or twitter @CoolWalks




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CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle – LGBT History Walk

On Saturday, 21st February  CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle celebrated LGBT History Month with a fun guided walk from Camberwell to Vauxhall.

The walk focused on Southwark’s rich Queer history interlaced with tales of momentous local Drag pubs and Camberwell’s lost music halls. Here are some photos of the day:

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Photography Exhibition ‘Elephant & Castle’s Finest’

Tuesday 24th February saw the launch of a new exhibition in our gallery space, ‘Elephant & Castle’s Finest’ – a photographic exploration of the local area and it’s hidden stories and treasures.

Work was created in street photography and local history workshops which ran at CoolTan Arts throughout January, funded by the Mace team at Newington Butts.

Visitors to the exhibition made the following comments: ‘Inspired’, ‘Beautiful artwork’,’The exhibition really captures the spirit of Elephant and Castle and provides an insight into the lives of people who live here’, ‘I was impressed by the quality of the work and pleased that Mace is supporting CoolTan.’

The exhibition will be open from 24th February – 2nd March 2015 at CoolTan Arts, Third Floor, 224-236 Walworth Road, SE17 1JE.

The photographs can also be seen on the Mace hoarding on Newington Butts for the next few months.

Here are some photos from the launch event:


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CoolWalks Guidebook Launch – Monday 2nd March

Coolwalks invitation launchCoolTan Arts & Southwark Council are proud to announce the launch of the CoolWalk’s Guidebook. 

The guide book brings together the research and creativity of the CoolWalks volunteers and is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to take up physical exercise and learn about the varied and interesting history of Southwark.

Monday 2nd March, 3-4pm at John Harvard Library, 211 Borough High Street, London SE1 1JA.
To attend RSVP to or call 020 7525 2475.

CoolWalks is a collabration between CoolTan Arts, Southwark Libraries and Southwark NHS which recognises the link between physical activity and improved mental health.

There are twelve themed unique walks in the series, each starting one of the borough’s libraries.  Each Coolwalk was researched, devised and led by volunteers to enable walkers of all abilities to come together, to explore, to learn and to share their experiences covering 12 themes and all parts of the borough.  Each walk is fully accessible.

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The Breakfast Club supports CoolTan Arts

Spitalfields1One of London’s most popular cafes, The Breakfast Club, are showing their support for CoolTan Arts at the moment. Their Spitalfields branch are donating us £1 from each ‘Green is Good’ smoothie they sell and also the profits from their merchandise sales.
So pop on down to Spitalfields to sample a smoothie and some of the other tasty items on their menu!
Their address is: The Breakfast Club Spitalfields
12-16 Artillery Lane,
E1 7LS
Thanks so much Breakfast Club, we really appreciate it!


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