New AHRC funding to promote community wellbeing through music

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A project from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) has been awarded prestigious Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding to investigate the ways music can benefit people living with mental health issues in Liverpool.

The project is one of just 5 across the UK to have been granted a new Community Innovation Practitioner (CIP) award to investigate how collaborations between academics and partners from across different sectors can work to benefit health and wellbeing.

Georgina Aasgaard, a cellist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) and an experienced music and health practitioner will be working with Dr Jacqueline Waldock to build on the University of Liverpool’s long-term partnerships with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust (MCFT) and RLPO.

Georgina Aasgaard

Georgina Aasgaard

Georgina will work with three communities across the Liverpool City Region:  a centre for social inclusion in Wavertree; a community library in Walton; and Ashworth high secure hospital. These are part of the Life Rooms, a free NHS service which provides a space to meet, learn and access social prescribing activities.

Georgina said: “I’m really delighted to have been awarded funding to further strengthen the University of Liverpool’s long-term partnership with Merseycare and RLPO.

“With over 20 years’ experience in bringing music from the concert hall into our communities, I’m really looking forward to this project which will advance Liverpool City Region’s long track record of harnessing arts for effective mental health care.”

The AHRC Creative Communities Programme, based at Northumbria University, Newcastle has secured an additional £470,000 of investment, on top of the original 1.3 million award for CIPs to work in collaboration with cross-sector partners to tackle shared challenges and opportunities faced by their local communities.

Each CIP will generate a case study on their project, offering insight into the partnerships, processes and policies that shape and are shaped by the local communities they are working with. They will also work with a podcast producer to create a podcast capturing the voices of the people involved in their collaborative research and development. Learning from the pilot will inform a series of policy papers on culture, communities and levelling up by the programme in 2025.

Executive Chair of AHRC Christopher Smith said: “Everyone everywhere should benefit from and have the opportunity to engage in R&D through creativity and culture at a local level no matter their location, means or background. And arts and humanities must continue to innovate in mechanisms of funding, in methods of knowledge and exchange, and in products and services which change people’s lives.”

AHRC Creative Communities Programme Director Prof. Katy Shaw said: “The CIP pilot is a significant investment by AHRC that recognises the evidence provided by our report that shows how co-creation and collaboration are key to addressing the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our research ecosystem today. By building more inclusive models of innovation, and by opening the door to research for more people and in more places, we can diversify who does research, who benefits from its findings, and show how co-creation can catalyse our creative communities across the UK.”