It was beyond my expectations. Every one was so friendly and helpful. I find it difficult to express myself verbally but it didn't seem to matter to them. I am now confident about going out and meeting other people. I was depressed and now I feel like there is a smile inside me.

Wild Being: Reading’s Thriving Communities project

Wild Being ran between August 2021 and June 2022 and was funded by the National Academy for Social Prescribing and Arts Council England’s Thriving Communities Fund. The fund was set up to bring together place-based partnerships to improve and increase the range and reach of available social prescribing community activities, especially for those people most impacted by COVID-19 and health inequalities. 

Wild Being was led by Reading Voluntary Action and the programme adopted a holistic approach to wellbeing, creating new and varied social prescribing opportunities across Reading. With the support of social prescribing link workers, it featured three key strands of activity across arts and heritage, gardening and growing, and sport. The MERL, on behalf of Museums Partnership Reading, acted as the lead for arts and heritage working alongside and connecting to Reading Green Wellbeing Network’s green health opportunities and Sport in Mind’s sport and physical health activities. 

Over the course of the programme, we ran over 200 activities showcasing the very different ways that engagement with arts and heritage collections and spaces can benefit health and wellbeing. We worked collaboratively with partners such as Compass Recovery College, Alana House, Age UK, RCLC, Communicare, the social prescribers and those with lived experience to co-design activities. Programmes ranged from Singing for Health, Growing & Gardening Workshops, Mindfulness Workshops, Reading for Wellbeing, the Chatty Café, as well as physical health programmes with Sport in Mind (Mums and Babies Yoga and Tai Chi) and IRDC (yoga) and much more.

Workshops at The MERL far exceeded my expectations with knowledge, confidence, and inspiration to find ways to socialise. They have restored hope.

Though Wild Being has concluded, The MERL’s health and wellbeing activities continue. There are many varied opportunities at the museum that you can get involved in, which promote positive mental and physical health. To find out more, please see our Communities page or contact us at today.