Pioneering newspaper for the NHS supports wellbeing 

Anna Farthing (left) and Fiona Matthews (right) reading Boredom Buster Two.

Anna Farthing (left) and Fiona Matthews (right) reading Boredom Buster Two. - Credit: Culture Weston

An innovative newspaper is providing creative respite for thousands of people across the UK as health and cultural sectors join forces to bolster the mental health of hospital patients and care home residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Showcasing some of the country’s leading artists alongside tried and tested contributions from hospital art teams and participatory arts professionals, the Boredom Buster publication has been produced for the NHS National Performance Advisory Group for Arts, Design and Heritage in Hospitals, by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) in partnership with Culture Weston.  

Bringing a blast of the great outdoors to hospital bedsides the length and breadth of the country, including all 10 of the UHBW sites, Boredom Buster’s pages brim with articles, images and activities that provide talking points and windows to the natural world, drawing upon extensive research that proves a connection between nature and good health. 

Boredom Buster will also be delivered to care homes in Weston, as part of Culture Weston and UHBW’s ongoing Arts + Health programme in the town. 

A UHBW patient reading Boredom Buster Two on a hospital ward.

A UHBW patient reading Boredom Buster Two on a hospital ward. - Credit: Culture Weston

Dr Neil Churchill, director of experience, participation and equalities for NHS England and Improvement, said: “We know that a combination of creative activity, connection to the natural world and volunteering can support health and wellbeing as well as recovery.

"I very much look forward to having a go at the many activities.”  

Fiona Matthews, creative director at Culture Weston, added: “Through Boredom Buster we’ve pivoted our usual cultural programme and pooled skills with UHBW to devise a creative response to the pressing social need of loneliness, whether that’s in a hospital or in the community.  

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"The involvement of First Site Gallery has opened the newspaper’s pages to some of Britain’s most exciting artistic voices, enabling the likes of Grayson Perry, Great Ormond Street GOSH Arts and Dr Mya-Rose Craig AKA Bird Girl to rub shoulders.

"And as we have discovered, for once, it is tactile, old fashioned print that is the tool connecting people in a proven model, now into its second iteration.”  

Anna Farthing (left) and Fiona Matthews (right) reading Boredom Buster Two. 

Anna Farthing (left) and Fiona Matthews (right) reading Boredom Buster Two. - Credit: Culture Weston

The 48-page spring issue of Boredom Buster, which is free to patients, has been produced in response to growing demand following the successful launch of the first Boredom Buster newspaper last summer, which brought the spirit of the seaside and some proverbial sunshine to hospitals and care homes up and down the country.

More than 40,000 copies were delivered to patients and residents through the national network of arts programmers with the publication receiving widespread acclaim and feedback.  

Anna Farthing, arts programme director at UHBW, said: “The pandemic has shown us that individual creativity can support psychological health and wellbeing, even when the circumstances of our physical health are beyond our control.

"The Boredom Buster format invites people to express themselves by making over its pages so that each copy becomes personalised. The engaging activities have been carefully researched and curated to provide talking points, encouraging meaningful connection with other people and evoking sensory memories of the natural world.

"We hope that for long stay patients and care home residents, Boredom Buster will feel like a breath of fresh air.” 

A UHBW patient reading Boredom Buster Two on a hospital ward. 

A UHBW patient reading Boredom Buster Two on a hospital ward. - Credit: Culture Weston

Boredom Buster Two is a bumper-packed issue filled with inspiring and varied content with something for everyone to make and do.

Readers can take part in First Site artist activities with Grayson Perry, Mark Titchner and Bob and Roberta Smith; radiate in the colours of Damien Hirst’s Butterfly Rainbow; climb a mountain with Black Girls Hike; embrace the positive power of Biophilia with Great Ormond Street Hospital; explore classic paintings with Cambridge Museums; imagine historical adventures with English Heritage, and remember loved ones with Luke Jerram’s In Memoriam, an outdoor artwork commissioned in 2020 by Culture Weston and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston. 

Hospitals, health and care settings can order copies of the ‘Boredom Buster Two’ and find out more details by emailing boredombuster@uhbw.nhs.uk.   

For more information, log on to www.cultureweston.org.uk and www.uhbw.nhs.uk.  

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