Sainsbury's hosts art exhibition in aid of mental health charity

By Claire Dukes - 2 August 2019

CharityBusinessArts and Culture
  • Art exhibition by IPSUM service users at Sainsbury's, Paddington Dr - photography ©Elizabeth Reaney

    Art exhibition by IPSUM service users at Sainsbury's, Paddington Dr - photography ©Elizabeth Reaney

A Sainsbury's store based in Swindon has marked the supermarket chain's 150th anniversary by hosting an art exhibition in aid of a local mental health charity.

Sainsbury's Operations Manager Scott Dykes and IPSUM's Art Room Coordinator Sue Bardwell - photography ©Elizabeth Reaney

In celebration of Sainsbury's 150th anniversary a store in Swindon, Paddington Drive, reached out to a mental health charity - which offers creative therapies for people with mental ill health - to mark the occasion with an art exhibition.

The art exhibition, which was officially unveiled yesterday evening in the customer's cafe, is displaying an array of artwork created by IPSUM service users. Hosting an evening of art, music and poetry, volunteers and staff from IPSUM said they are delighted by the support from the supermarket.

Sue Bardwell, IPSUM's art room co-ordinator, said: "They’ve been so supportive and keen to offer things that would be relevant to us. It all helps to boost people’s morale and people’s self-confidence, and to have the affirmation that, ‘I’m worthy – something that I’ve created is worthy of being on a wall in a public’, and that’s huge for people with mental ill health.

"Art is so much cheaper than any medication and so much more effective, and one of the big things I see in the art room is how being creative builds resilience, and I can see how that positively impacts other aspects of their lives."

IPSUM service user, Daniel Preston, 42, unveiled some of his artwork for the first time yesterday. He said: “This is the first time I’ve had anything publicly displayed. Literally yesterday Sue asked if I had any artwork that they could use, and I didn’t expect it to be up on the wall in a public forum. I hadn’t told the family, so I brought them down here as a total surprise.”

Speaking of how IPSUM has benefitted him, Mr Preston added: “Especially with the kids it’s calmed me down and it has brought out a creative side that I didn’t know was there before.”

Sainsbury's, which looks to support charities as part of its community engagement programme, selected IPSUM after a service user and Sainsbury's employee wanted to help highlight the work that charity do. Speaking at the event Scott Dykes, Sainsbury’s Operations Manager, said: "We asked all of our colleagues to come up with a couple of charities that we could support.

"Since May we’ve worked with Sue and the team to see what we can do to help them, and this evening launching the art exhibition is a part of that and we’re very happy to help.

"We’ve had lots of compliments today from customers saying how nice it looks and how nice the reason behind it is as well. We’re very happy with it."

IPSUM offers a range of creative therapies which include music, art and poetry, as well as counselling. Psychotherapist and IPSUM director Julie Mattinson says that IPSUM’s recent referral statistics have shown that only 10% of referrals do not come back to use the services. She believes that art as a form of therapy is one of the main reasons why.

Julie said: "We’ve got counselling but engaging with the arts is another way of therapeutically helping yourself to make sense of what’s going on in your mind. Until you try it, you don’t really appreciate the power it’s got.

"One of our service users told me, ‘When I’m focusing on art, I’m giving my mind a break from worrying about the anxieties that I carry around with me every day’. I think that’s a really good way of putting it."

To date four service users of IPSUM have become published authors, with another recently accepted into the Royal Academy of Art, London. Despite this progression Julie says that as a small charity support from local organisations is still vital. "It’s so important to get what we do as a charity out there because it’s quite unique – not just for Swindon but for the South West," she said.

"For a small standing charity like ours, especially when you have so many small charities fighting for funding, when you get a big company like Sainsbury’s recognise you it’s so fantastic – it’s really rewarding for our clients, who are here this evening, and they’re so proud because their artwork’s on the wall.

"I can’t thank Sainsbury’s enough. I’m really proud of this evening, and I’m really proud of everyone here – especially my team, because they are amazing."

For further information about IPSUM visit

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