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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Largactyl Shuffle Walk Dates 2015-2016


Largactyl Shuffle

Are you interested in London’s hidden stories? Then CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle is for you! Join us on our fun guided cultural walks for mental and physical wellbeing.
Each month the walk explores a different theme, through intriguing talks on local history, arts and health. You can learn new things, make friends, get fit and have fun!

 The Largactyl Midnight WalkShuffle has been running since 2006 and is named after the oldest anti-psychotic drug, Largactil, that can have extreme physical side effects including a distinctive shambolic gait, or ‘shuffling’. The walks are researched and led by our Largactyl Shuffle volunteer group who meet weekly to plan the walks.

Walks happen on the third Saturday of each month and last approximately 4 hours.

Walks are family friendly and inclusive and are suitable for people of all abilities including wheelchair users. You can join us for half an hour, half a mile or the full distance of 4.8 miles.

Walks usually start from outside the main entrance of Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill, SE5 8AZ OR from outside the Turbine Hall entrance of Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG.

Upcoming Walkscooltan-arts-largactyl-shuffle

March 21st 2013 –Women’s Day Walk
Tate – Waterloo

April 18th 2015 – Rights and Equality Walk
Tate– Walworth

May 16th 2015 – Pagan Walk
Tate Modern  –  Camberwell

June 20th 2015 –Midnight Walk
Tate – Maudsley

July 18th 2015 – Garden Walk: Green Cuisine
Maudsley– Myatts Fields

August 15th 2015 – Be a Good Sport Walk
Tate Modern– Bermondsey

September 19th 2015 – Black Heritage Walk
Maudsley – Peckham

October 10th 2015 – Sponsored Walk
Maudsley – Southbank

November  21st 2015 – Mysteries Walk
Maudsley – TBC
11:45am – 4pm

December 19th 2015 – Urban Landscape Walk
Tate Modern – TBC
11:45am – 4pm

January 16th 2016 – Barking Mad Walk
Maudsley – Burgess Park
11:45am – 4pm

Feb 21st 2015 – LGBT History & Performance Walk
Camberwell Green – Vauxhall

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CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle – Women’s Day Walk

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Saturday 21st March
Start: Tate Modern (outside the Turbine Hall entrance), Bankside SE1 9TG
Ends: Waterloo
Times: 11:45am – 4:30pm
Cost: free/voluntary donation

Join CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle for the ‘Women’s Day Walk’, a guided, stigma-busting cultural walk, designed to celebrate International Women’s Day and encourage mental and physical wellbeing, through art, exercise, humour and history.
We will be stopping for short talks on the writer, philosopher and advocate for women’s rights, Mary Wollstonecraft; Olive Morris, who set up the Brixton Black Women’s Group; the painter and multimedia artist Sonia Boyce; the artist and suffragette Mary Lowndes, the boxing promoter Bella Burge and many more. We will also be visiting the Feminist Library along the way.

Please wear comfortable shoes and bring a bottle of water. The walk is accessible to wheelchair users and people with disabilities. The walk leaders wear orange high-viz vests and rucksacks. Call CoolTan Arts on 07985 658443 if you cannot find the group of walkers on the day. All are welcome!


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Can you help? … Dates for your Diary

datesforyourdiaryCan you spare a few hours to help out with some of our upcoming events?

Largactyl Shuffle Women’s Day Walk
Saturday 21st March 11.45am- 4:00pm. Tate Modern to Waterloo.

Trained walk leaders and photographers needed on our Largactyl Shuffle
Walk leaders – Assist the Largactyl Shuffle group in registering people at the beginning of the walk and safely guiding members of the general public on the walk through the streets of Southwark. Walk route is approximately 4.8 miles.

Volunteer photographers and writers – needed to photograph and review of the event.

Affordable Art Fair volunteers

Taking place during the 11th-15th March we need volunteers to man our stall at the affordable Art Fair and to promote CoolTan to members of the public.

If you can help at all, please contact: or call 020 7701 2696.



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Why volunteer at CoolTan Arts?

Gain a unique experience with a lively independent Arts organisation!

Get out of the house, make friends and learn new skills in a safe, supportive environment.
All this, plus regular free training and up to £4.40 travel expenses per day!

Benefits for all volunteers:

  • Travel expenses up to £4.40 day reimbursed – with an oyster printout showing your journey
  • Opportunity to develop and use meaningful skills
  • Lots of training opportunities available, tailored to your volunteer role
  • Opportunity to get useful work experience and obtain a reference
  • Safe and supportive environment

We welcome volunteers with disabilities

Find out more or book a place on a volunteer induction or ring 0207 701 2696


Here is what our volunteers say about us …

“If it wasn’t for volunteering at CoolTan I’d be in hospital, or I don’t know where I’d be. The support of the volunteer co-ordinator and staff at CoolTan made me realise I did have skills and was useful, after difficulties at my work. I was signed off sick, and started volunteering at CoolTan instead of being at home, as I found it made me feel much more positive. Another participant said ‘bad things happen to good people’, and it’s true, these conversations with staff at CoolTan were important. The support I got, and the experience at CoolTan boosted my confidence to apply for jobs again. I now have a full time role, and have been offered two others I applied for! Thanks CoolTan Arts”

richard_smallImage: CoolTan volunteer Richard Muzira wins a Local Heroes Award from Bank of America for his volunteer service in December 2012.

“Volunteering at CoolTan Arts has allowed me to learn many new skills that are of use to me in many ways, however, the real reward is being involved in my local community and doing something that helps other people. I have long term health problems and CoolTan gets me out the house, gives me something to do, you get interesting conversations here. I wouldn’t get that at home on my own”
(a regular volunteer who has moved from receptionist to podcasting, graphic design and analysing statistics)

“Volunteering helps to understand the running of departments in this organisation. Wherever you volunteer, if you make posters, you learn to make posters from start to finish. If you do petty cash, you learn how to go from receipts to presenting documents to the accountant. I think you learn here. If you just chat or rest, it may be good for a while, but learning by volunteering is the best way to gain skills, and CoolTan is good for learning skills. When you have new skills you get self esteem, and self esteem is better than nothing. If you wander round the streets you get nothing. If you increase your self esteem, it gives you a positive start to build up to what you want, in your life, to get a job, or to be healthy in your mind. That’s what CoolTan does for volunteers.”
(volunteer, service user and CoolTan Arts trustee)

“Thanks for everything. CoolTan has helped me through a difficult time in my life of unemployment and uncertainty through being able to volunteer and attend all sorts of things.”
(This person has now moved on to university studying education after volunteering with us as an Arts Tutor Assistant for 8 months)

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Fundraising Volunteers









CoolTan Arts are looking for fundraising volunteers with experience of bid-writing.  Help support CoolTan’s development and long term future.

There is also the possibility to assist in/running  workshops in fundraising for our staff and volunteers. Work can be done from CoolTan’s office or remotely.

If you can help at all, please get in contact with Sarah,    Tel: 0207 701 2696.

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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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Volunteer with CoolTan’s Mobile Gardening Project

Are you passionate about gardening? Would you like to meet and work with people from Southwarkgardening
community? Then come and help CoolTan Arts with our Mobile Gardening project!

Free training will be given.

When? Every Monday from 16th March-6th April

Where? Meet at CoolTan at 10.30am and then we will walk to our different locations each week! We will be finished by 3pm.

Research has shown that gardening can help reduce stress and anxiety and also support those with experience of mental distress – as it distracts attention away from day-to-day health problems, giving a respite from symptoms.

If you are interested in taking part in the project please contact or ring 0207 701 2696.

CoolTan’s gardening service has been made possible by a grant from Southwark Council’s Cleaner Greener Safer programme, which assists local residents with funding for projects to improve their local environment.




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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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New issue of CoolFruit

Coming soon …

The next issue of CoolFruit: The CoolTan Arts Review is out on 27th March 2015.CoolFruit Cover-March- Hope V2-lr

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

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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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“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 `JE.
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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Project Volunteers needed for Largactyl Shuffle

This is a unique volunteering role that is relevant for people wanting to help their community, learn more about the area, make new friends and build confidence. If you are interested in gaining work skills, this role is relevant for a huge range of jobs employment skills from project management, travel and tourism, health and social care, administration, journalism, photography and graphic design.

We are currently keen to recruit volunteers who can help with graphic design, PR, marketing and community outreach


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Open Day – Wednesday 11th March

Open DayDrop in any time  to find out more about CoolTan Arts.
Wednesday 11th March, 1-3pm
CoolTan Arts, Third Floor,
224 – 226 Walworth Road, London SE17 1JE

Want to take a taster for self advocacy? Find out how to make your voice heard!

Want to find out why drawing is helpful for your mental health?

How about taking a taste of some of our healthy ‘cooking club cuisine’?

Find out why people come to CoolTan Arts!

For more information please email Tara

Open Day photo


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Development Manager – Job Vacancy

CoolTan Arts has an exciting opening for the role of Development Manager. Candidates should have excellent income/fundraising generation abilities, managerial and business expertise, be highly motivated and have an interest in the Arts and mental-health.

A working experience of the charity sector and a working knowledge of funders (including trusts and foundations as well as individual donors) is essential. Current knowledge of government polices related to mental-health, well-being and the Arts is also beneficial. Cooltan Arts is a fast paced organisation and the ability to multitask and be a quick leaner are essential when working with us; you need bundles of energy, a good sense of humour and the ability to be a team player.

Job Title: Development Manager
Location: Third Floor, 224-236 Walworth Road, SE17 1JE
Salary:  £30,000, 1 Year initial Contract. Extension subject to funding.

Closing date: 19th March 2015

Interviews: 24th and 26th March 2015

To apply please e-mail a completed application form with CV to 

Download:Development Manager Job Pack 2015 Final (2)

Context of Work: CoolTan Arts is an arts mental health organisation that believes mental wellbeing is enhanced by the power of creativity. It has existed since 1990 and became a registered charity in 1997, set up by and for people with mental distress. The organisation has grown substantially and is keen to develop a new direction in terms of its service delivery and fundraising. CoolTan Arts has an exciting opportunity for a talented Business Development Manager to join our friendly team and realise our growth potential.

The right person for this job will be someone with an Arts and Business background, who is dynamic, personable and wants to make a difference for people with mental-health issues. You will have a strong sense of social justice and an empathy with mental-health or lived experience, you must be able to work in a team and be a team player, prioritise and think strategically under pressure to meet deadlines. CoolTan Arts USP is our ability to use humour in all of our work.

Purpose of Job:
To build on CoolTan Arts’ USP of ‘Innovation though Arts’ and increase CoolTan Arts’ market position, achieving financial growth and sustainability by developing our income streams though funding and business development. Work with our CEO and Operations Director developing our long-term organisational strategic goals, build key customer relationships and identify business opportunities.
Lead and increase our social enterprise activities to statutory and mainstream voluntary sector partners. Use your skills and experience of fundraising and business development to identify and secure new revenue opportunities and develop existing income streams.
Be an effective negotiator and decision maker able to form strong business relationships, manage budgets and achieve results.
As important is your versatility in communicating with different audiences, your belief in what we’re trying to achieve and your passion for delivering our goals. You will be highly focused, commercially astute, creative and effective.

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CoolTan Arts in Guardian Christmas charity appeal






CoolTan Arts have been really pleased to be part of the Guardian Christmas Charity Appeal, we’d like to say a big thanks to the Guardian for their support!

The appeal has been incredibly successful with the final amount totalling £397,000. Thank you also to everyone who donated and helped spread the word.

Each year they choose a theme to support over the festive period and in 2014 they choose mental health. We were one of nine mental health charities who were selected to benefit along with Mind, Starwards, MAC UK, Kidstime Foundation, Rethink, Samaritans, Centre for Mental Health and Gardening Leave.

Check out this wonderful article about us by Simon Hattenstone:

Our Cooking Club project and patron Rosemary Shrager were also featured in the appeal in early January with a great article by Hannah Jane Parkinson and Emma Howard:



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CoolTan Creative Workshops – 2015 Schedule


CoolTan are running a new series of FREE 12 week  workshops from January 2015. Workshops are open to all people 18+ with experience of mental distress (self defined) who are currently unemployed.

Come along, gain new skills, meet new people and explore your creative side. Friendly and relaxed environment, with small groups and professional tutors.

**Book your place now**  Call 020 7701 2696 or email

Workshop Dates

Art – Tuesdays 11-1pmStarts 6th January (12 weeks) Empower yourself through creativity with our unique art workshop. Experiment with different themes and styles, and  explore various art techniques, such as acrylic, watercolours, charcoal etc. Meet like minded people in this small friendly group with a professional and supportive tutor. Suitable for all levels. Embrace the opportunity to exhibit in CoolTan and beyond!
Film – Tuesdays 11-1pmStarts 6th January. (12 weeks) Learn how to do your own film-making and editing. Use some of the latest cameras and sound microphones to make your own creative piece of work for internet or DVD. Along the way you will gain a good working knowledge of the Final Cut Pro editing programme. No previous experience necessary except basic I.T skills.
Creative Writing – Wednesdays 11-1pm –  Starts 7th January. (12 weeks) Explore techniques, find inspiration and learn how structure your writing to make it exciting and engaging. Come along, learn, create and enjoy!
WordPress – Thursdays 1:30-3:30pm –  Starts 8th January. (12 weeks) Be guided step-by-step through the process of how to create a customised mini website, using WordPress, the popular free blogging platform. We’ll be covering the basics of WordPress installation, how to use the WordPress dashboard, how to create and modify menus, content pages and posts, handling digital media, such as images and videos, as well as exploring the many options available to customise the appearance and design. No previous experience necessary except basic I.T skills.
Photoshop – Thursdays 11-1pmStarts 15th January. (12 weeks) Learn how to edit and retouch your photography to a professional standard. Use layers, filters, text and drawing tools to create artistic effects.  Gain the skills to cut out and combine images to create collages, posters and artworks. No previous experience necessary except basic I.T skills.
Location: CoolTan Arts, Third Floor, 224-236 Walworth Road, SE17 1JE.
With thanks to our funders:


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Help create a new artist app at CoolTan in 2015

Artist appFollowing the success of the Van Gogh walk launched earlier this year, CoolTan Arts is continuing the collaboration with Artangel, artist R.M. Sánchez-Camus and Pan Studios with a new digital media project.

Every Wednesday 10:30am-1:00pm @ CoolTan Arts Computer Lab
Starting 4th February 2015
Workshops are every week until the July and open to everyone. Drop in whenever you can!

Learn about smartphone technology, apps, GPS, interactivity and how to extend artmaking into the public sphere. Workshops will give hands on art training in social projects, sound projects, walking and digital media.

The project will explore the balance of the real/conscious vs. the imaginary/subconscious offering participants a safe space in which to play with their creativity, as an act of creative living.

This is an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about the crossroads of digital media and art making. If you would like to participate please contact to register for the workshops.

If you haven’t heard the walk, you can stream or download it here:

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CoolTan Council

Picture11CoolTan Council – What can it do for me?
CoolTan Council is a group of volunteers and participants who want to make a difference at CoolTan Arts, and in Southwark. 

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 17 March from 4-5pm at CoolTan Arts.

We are looking for people who would like to develop their public speaking, peer-support and employability skills.  (Training will be offered to participants and volunteers who wish to undertake an active role in the CoolTan Council.)
What can I do for CoolTan Arts?
This meeting will focus on the future of CoolTan Arts building and what has happened with previous plans.

Don’t stay silent! Use your voice for CoolTan Arts!

Speak to Kaya or Tara in Self Advocacy, call 0207 701 2696 for information or e-mail or

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