The Pop Up Art Project was conceived by Manus and Ailish Teague following visits to their son in New York.
Ailish visited in 2013 for respite following surgery on her ankle and, as always, brought her paints and paintbrushes. Their son asked Ailish to paint a coffee table in his living room with some 'skull art' and as Ailish painted, she sent photo updates to their son who was at work. When he arrived home from work that evening, he had three friends with him who wanted to watch Ailish paint the table.
Ailish encouraged them to join in, and soon all four of them completed the table. The following morning, four more friends had joined the group of painters and steadily over the two week visit, more and more young people came and painted nearly every piece of furniture in the apartment.
Ailish observed that the young people, from varying social backgrounds, all talked and shared experiences whilst engrossed in their painting and relayed the experience to Manus.
When Ailish and Manus visited the following year, the same group of young people were waiting, some of them even had their own bits of furniture they had collected, and all of them were waiting to paint. During this visit, the friends continued to visit each day, and as they painted, they discussed more openly the feelings they were experiencing in life. Manus observed that the pre-occupation of painting, meant that these young people were better able to converse openly about things which were worrying them, as the focus was on the act of painting and not on themselves.
During these activities, some young people found the discussions getting too personal and knowing Manus was a Counsellor, asked him if they could talk in private about what had opened up. This then became a steady turnaround of counselling and painting with each person there availing of the opportunity to talk. One young woman in her late twenties made the decision to enter rehab as a result and remains clean of heroin addiction ever since.
Inspired by the experience, both Manus and Ailish resolved to set up an aftercare service for those affected by mental ill health and/or addiction using Art as Therapy and Counselling to address the unmet needs of those leaving rehabilitation and with no focus for their time or support network of like minded people.
In 2014, Manus approached the Social Enterprise Hub funded by the Department of Communities and set up the Pop up Art Project within it's confines.
Life Change Changes Lives have developed a popular aftercare service for people affected by mental ill health and/or addictions. The outcomes have been sustained health and well-being in our community, the reduction of isolation and the re-engagement of people from an offending background into their family and community through harm reduction, adherence to bail conditions, integration with PSNI on a social level and voluntary work designed to benefit the greater community. There has been noted improvement in social interaction and good relations between people of different religions and ethnic backgrounds and the creation of the sense of community to participants in our project and the establishment of peer support from mentors.
In November 2017, LCCL were successful in obtaining Big Lottery Funding to cover core running costs for a period of 2 years which enabled the project to secure permanent premises.
The new premises are now open and accessible to all at
41 Market Street, Downpatrick, BT30 6LP.
Our vision was always to provide accessible mental health and addiction support which we believe should be as easy to access as a dentist if you have a sore tooth. We have an open door policy and accept self-referrals and GP referrals from all areas, as well as working with a number of statutory agencies.