Staff wellbeing project


Over the two years 2021-22, ONCA continued its ongoing support and partnership with The University Hospital Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, delivering 14 wellbeing workshops at 10 hospital sites across Sussex, supporting and engaging 591 NHS staff.

Informed by a previous project with NHS staff, ‘Emerge’, this wellbeing project was designed within the context of the COVID 19 pandemic to: 

  • Create opportunities for positive interactions between colleagues, supporting team building and group dynamics
  • Create opportunities for positive experiences at work including feeling valued and supported 
  • Benefit wellbeing and improve mental health
  • Encourage engaging in tools that support self nurture
  • Provide opportunities to reflect, relax and decompress from the stresses and possible trauma of COVID-19

Delivered as pop-up, drop-in festival days, sessions invited NHS staff to create cyanotypes on fabric squares which were later sewn together by ONCA artist Sally Bourner into large quilts to be framed and hung at each of the 10 NHS sites. Cyanotypes are a gentle invitation – staff were invited to pick plants to leave silhouettes on their fabric, cut out shapes in cardboard or draw onto glass with pens. Drop-in participation meant staff could fit engagement around their busy work schedules, staying for five minutes to an hour or more. Cakes, refreshments and short massages were available to encourage self-nurture and improve recruitment. NHS counsellors were available to signpost staff to their services and support anyone who may need it on the day.

‘It was lovely to do the art, I’ve not done it in years. And good to switch off for a bit. It has been nice speaking to colleagues about non-work things.’

For more information on the outcomes and learning from this project, please see our full report, found here.

Photos by Phoebe Wingrove