In Greater Manchester, we plan to become the first city region in the world to harness the power of creativity, culture and heritage to address inequities and improve the health and wellbeing of our residents.

To guide this commitment, the Greater Manchester Creative Health City Region Strategy was launched on 2 November.

We know that health is impacted by a range of factors including having a decent job, being able to support yourself and having a home. But there are also more intangible elements that contribute to wellbeing, health and happiness, and there is growing recognition that engaging with creativity and culture helps us to lead longer, healthier, happier lives and this relationship is increasingly referred to as ‘creative health’.

Creative health also includes the use of culture and creativity as part of treatment and care pathways. For example, creative approaches can help us into work, protect us from illness and assist in managing long-term conditions and evidence is presented that links cultural and creative engagement with healthy life expectancy, illustrates the contribution singing can make to overcoming breathlessness and anxiety in people with Long COVID; and shows dance helping to reduce falls in older adults.

Greater Manchester is proud to be home to many and varied organisations whose mission it is to improve community and individual wellbeing through access to the arts and heritage as well as specialist organisations working in clinical and care settings. The strategy launch was an opportunity to learn about current and potential creative health approaches and activities across primary, secondary and social care and be part of the conversation around Greater Manchester’s first ever Creative Health Delivery Plan.

Further work will be happening to develop the delivery plan over coming months in collaboration with health, care, public sector and cultural sector partners.

Sir Richard Leese, Chair Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board, said:

“A culturally rich and creative city region is part of what’s going to foster a healthier city region. There’s real room for creative health to grow and for it to become part of the fabric of our lives.”

A participant in Lime Art’s organ donor recognition artwork, said:

“I have found it so therapeutic to share ideas and to be able to articulate difficult and emotional experiences. The four donor families have all lost their child which is undoubtedly one of the most painful losses anyone can experience. I have found support and friendship which was lacking from anywhere else other than online grief forums from others who have lost a child. Sudden death is especially traumatic as you have no time to prepare yourself and being able to take part in the creative side of the project is very cathartic and soothing. This project is helping me to heal and process my grief in a positive way. I would recommend the power of creative projects to all and especially to support bereaved families.”

A GP in Tameside said:

“Where I’ve referred patients to creative activities under the banner of social prescribing, I’ve seen huge improvements in their mental health where patients have developed confidence, they’ve developed networks, made new friends and developed communities to help support them in ways they wouldn’t have imagined.”

If you would like to find out more about Greater Manchester’s commitment to becoming a Creative Health City Region, input into the upcoming delivery plan, or discuss potential opportunities, collaborations and challenges, please email

Read an executive summary of the Creative Health Strategy.

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