Bristol Arts on Referral Alliance, a gateway to wellbeing art services

Who We Are

BARA is a partnership between Bristol City Council Arts & Events, creativeShift, Fresh Arts at Southmead Hospital, Knowle West Healthy Living Centre, Central Bristol Children’s Centre, Southmead Development Trust and Wellspring Settlement who share a vision of the role of arts as an intervention to promote and sustain positive mental health and wellbeing.

What We Do

We deliver art as a therapeutic activity in areas of greatest need and to those who experience low to moderate mental health issues, or those who are in recovery from mental illness and are well-enough to attend a group.

Each art on referral activity is embedded within a larger social prescribing programme thereby facilitating easy access to a range of positive, community-based activities and support.

Find a Group

BARA delivers 10 arts on referral groups, and hosts 9 follow-on or independent groups in those geographical areas with the greatest need.

Some of our groups are self-referral and others are via healthcare or social care professionals.

See map below or the Creative Shift website.

Find your nearest therapeutic art group in Bristol

imagine an atmosphere where everyone feels supported…yes, mutual support seems to just happen...almost as if by magicArt Group Participant

A city-wide, sustainable and resilient journey to wellbeing

  • We provide clients and health practitioners with routes to Arts on Referral
  • We help address health inequalities by providing Arts on Referral in areas of deprivation and reaching out to communities who don’t ordinarily access the arts
  • We use a client-centred, asset-based approach, helping develop individuals’ resilience through high-quality follow-on and independent creative opportunities
  • We add value by signposting and referring to other positive activities as part of a wider social prescribing programme
  • We create a space for supportive networks and friendships to flourish

Find out more

Some more focus on the art groups

"Generally I feel much more part of a community, more positive."
Sophie Shine-On participant
"I’m so pleased these classes are available, for a few hours each week I’m able to have a period of time where I can achieve some peace."
Mike ArtLight Participant
“It wasn’t just about being creative, the personal benefits were much wider reaching. It helped to: Challenge my anxiety in a new social setting and environment, and gave me new evidence of coping, building a sense of resilience and hope to build upon."
Anon Wellbeing Arts Participant

Alliance Partners


creativeShiftCIC is one of the leading organisations in Bristol providing Arts on Referral programmes and creative wellbeing activities, to adults who are experiencing or are vulnerable to, isolation and mental health challenges. Together with our Bristol Arts on Referral Alliance (BARA) partners: Arts and Events Team Bristol City Council, Fresh Arts, Knowle West Healthy Living Centre, Southmead Development Trust, Central

Wellspring Healthy Living Centre

Founded in 2004, by residents of Barton Hill in Bristol,  Wellspring Healthy Living Centre is a vibrant charity serving one of the most diverse communities in England. Wellspring exists to address the health inequalities experienced by residents of inner-city and east Bristol, particularly those who live in the Lawrence Hill ward. Based in our community-owned, purpose-built premises in Barton Hill,

Southmead Development Trust

Southmead Development Trust (SDT) is a charity run by, and working to support, residents of North Bristol. In partnership with other community groups and charities we raise funds and manage projects which directly address our community’s needs. These projects aim to increase opportunities, reduce isolation and promote wellbeing.  Southmead Development Trust runs The Greenway Centre (a Healthy Living Centre in