Information for Health Services

Ōtautahi Creative Spaces is a creative community of people using the power of creativity to change lives. We provide specialist creative wellbeing services to support people with experience of mental distress and trauma.  

We have studios in the Phillipstown Community Hub and online meeting places.  

“Today I’ve got something to live for. I try and do art every day because it keeps me well. That’s what it’s given me – life, and friends.”

ŌCS Artist

The criteria for joining: 

  • Experience of mental distress 
  • Readiness to explore creativity for wellbeing 
  • Barriers to accessing creativity in other places 
  • The need for tailored support due to the impact of trauma and mental distress 

While our services are for people with lived experience of mental distress, we don’t require evidence of a mental health diagnosis. 

Fair access, and communities of focus  

We have limited resources and a commitment to equitable access. We therefore have policies in place to make sure we reach people who need it most, including our communities of focus which we receive specific funding to reach:   

  • Māori 
  • Pacific people 
  • Muslim community 
  • Rainbow LGBTQI+ community  
  • Youth 
  • Residents of Inner-city East (Woolston, Linwood, Phillipstown, Waltham) 

Priority will also be given to people who are supported by community or CDHB mental health services, Pegasus Health, and social housing providers.  

The referral process is: 

  1. We invite referrers to complete an online expression of interest form. You’ll receive an automatic reply.  
  1. We’ll call you to discuss the referral and the person’s needs.  We’ll ask you how you can support the person to participate – this might be making sure they have transport, coming with them for their first session, and checking in with them after a month or so to see how they’re going. 
  1. After this screening call, we’ll decide if what we offer is likely to be a good fit and whether we have available space.  
  1. If so, we’ll invite the person being referred in for a welcome meeting to show them around and discuss what we offer.  During the meeting we take the time to understand the person’s needs, what will make them comfortable in our spaces, and potential triggers. We encourage people to bring someone with them.  and if they choose to, some of their artwork.  If they want to join, we’ll discuss which services they’ll start with.  
  1. If our services are not a good fit, or we don’t have available space, we’ll send you a list of other places people can access creativity.  

What we offer: 

Free access to creativity and quality art materials – we offer diverse creativity programmes in visual arts and writing. People can choose to take part in structured activities or do their own thing. The pace at which people work is up to them. 

A supportive creative community a place to learn new skills and to share skills with others; opportunities to share work, sell work in our online shop or to exhibit (on-line and in galleries). There’s also a range of group art projects, gallery visits and workshops with guest artists. 

Positive new identity as an artist – the support and encouragement it takes for people to see themselves as artists, and to be valued for their strengths. There’s opportunities to develop leadership skills and to offer peer support.   

Safe and nurturing spaces – our creative spaces are purposeful and focused. Groups are small and intimate, and meet regularly.  

Choice about how people take part – we have different options for participating. If people can’t get in to the studios, we take the studios to them, through suitcase studios, online support and creativity coaching.  

Specialist creative wellbeing practice – our creative wellbeing approach is based on an understanding of the impact of mental distress and trauma, and the evidence base for creativity’s impact on wellbeing.  A foundation of our practice is Te Whare Tapa Whā, where all dimensions of health are in harmony.  We are not clinicians and know the limits of our practice. Where needed, we will refer people to mental health and other support services.  

Frequently Asked Questions:  

What does it cost?  

It is free to take part.  

Do people have to take part every week?  

No – we encourage people to take part regularly, because that’s how they’ll get the most out of it. We understand that people need a lot of flexibility and we trust that people will know what’s right for them.  

Do we provide transport to the studios?  

No – we can write a letter to support transport costs being included in a person’s Disability Allowance from Work and Income. We do help with transport for trips, eg to galleries. 

Can we drop in and visit the studios?  

We are happy to show you around, with advance notice. Unexpected visitors can disrupt the flow of the working studios.  

Can support workers or family members come along to the studio too?  

We encourage new artists to let us know what will help them settle and take part. This might include bringing someone with them for the first few sessions. Generally we encourage artists to be independent when they are ready for this.   

I’d like to know more about how creativity helps wellbeing:  

Take a look at the evaluation of our programmes by
Ihi Research here 

For more information: 

Please contact Tom:  

022 191 0314 

Harakeke & Kowhai Studios, Rooms 8 & 9  

Phillipstown Community Hub 
39 Nursery Rd   
Phillipstown 8011  

Designed By Ana Craw Creative