People with severe mental illness in Sussex have been given a musical masterclass in the art of being a DJ, courtesy of Fatboy Slim and Brighton based DJs Audio Anonymous and Atomic Drop.
The musician, DJ and record producer, also known as Norman Cook, was the special guest at the workshop as part of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation's Trust's (SPFT) arts and health programme Make Your Mark and funded by their official NHS charity, Heads On.
The event saw six people with severe mental illness come together to learn the skills of being a DJ, sharing the joy of music in the beautiful surroundings of Rockwater on Hove seafront.
Natalie Rowlands, Senior Occupational Therapist at Sussex Partnership and lead organiser for the event, said: "Whilst there is growing understanding about the role the arts and creativity can play in recovery for people with common mental health problems, much less is known about this for people with severe mental illness, who can often face the greatest stigma around their illness and as a result far less opportunities to be creative. We are absolutely delighted to be working with Fatboy Slim and Audio Anonymous/Atomic Drop to challenge some of this stigma and bring the sheer joy of music to people.
"It was truly amazing to see the joy on participants faces during this workshop.
"The aim was to bring people together through music, giving people a unique opportunity that they would not normally have access to, giving people hope, inspiration and a creative outlet.
"One individual told me that it had been a pivotal moment in her life, it was the beginning of a new chapter for her and something she will never forget."
Through its arts & health programme, Make Your Mark, Sussex Partnership and Heads On recognise that access to the arts and creativity, including music, is often very limited for people with severe mental health issues, particularly when spending large periods of time in hospital with limited involvement in their local community. The workshops are part of the Charity's approach to changing this, making music open and accessible to everyone through creating unique opportunities that give a creative voice to people who have all too often been excluded.
The DJ music workshop is the first in a series of four workshops, funded by Heads On and delivered in partnership by the charity and Sussex Partnership.
Rachael Duke, Head of Charity at Heads On, said: "We're delighted to be supporting the music workshops, opening up greater access and putting people with severe mental illness at the forefront of creativity; celebrating the extraordinary contribution that participation in the arts can make to recovery. For far too long people with severe mental illness have faced stigma and exclusion in all aspects of life and we are thrilled that Fatboy Slim and Audio Anonymous/Atomic Drop have joined us in challenging this. Huge thanks to them for their time, expertise and support, today has been simply inspirational for all of us."