Arts for Health

Arts for Health

Alder Hey runs a varied and dynamic arts for health programme which has been at the forefront of pioneering innovative approaches to using the arts in children's healthcare.

Caroline Gregson Residency, Willow Weaving (1).jpg

Our arts programmes are inspired by our patients and led by them. There are many different ways to experience our arts for health programme. We offer a varied programme of enjoyable arts activities which are carried out in the wards or waiting areas. These include dance, music, comedy, arts, storytelling, creative writing, digital arts, animation and puppet making.

Arts for Health won the prestigious ‘NHS England Excellence in Participation Award 2014: Children and Young People’ at the Healthcare Innovation Expo in Manchester. This was awarded for our innovative dance programme, a collaboration with Small Things Dance Company.

Our arts for health programme was also recognised as a model of good practice in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry in July 2017.

Contact us

Please email Vicky Charnock, Arts Coordinator at

Arts for Health projects

Examples of current and former projects include:


The hospital has a long standing partnership with Twin Vision, a media charity specialising in projects that develop skills in photography, film, animation and audio.

Twin Vision are currently working  on a major two year project called Medical Mavericks. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project explores Liverpool’s medical achievements through the lives of three innovative pioneers, who all had connections to Liverpool. Using stop frame animation, Twin Vision have been working with patients to create three animated films which explore the lives of Sir Robert Jones, Dr William Duncan and Frances Ivens.

Medical Mavericks Animation (1).jpg

The films will feature in a touring exhibition around Liverpool at the end of 2019, as well as in an educational app. There will also be a special film premiere to celebrate the hard work, creativity and talent of our young animators.

Twin Vision have developed a number of innovative animation projects with patients in the hospital. These include the ‘Welcome to 3B’ animation, made by Oncology patients for other Oncology patients who are visiting Ward 3B for the first time. The film covers all aspects of life on the ward from a patient’s perspective, such as meals prepared by the ward chef to activities in the school room.

You can view the film below and also the accompanying documentary by clicking here.



Musician-Georgina-with-patient-on-3A.jpgWe have an extensive music programme running throughout the hospital.

Thanks to funding from Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Children in Need and Wallace and Gromit’s Children’s Charity, we have regular music across the hospital, and weekly sessions on each of our in-patient and Emergency Department wards. We know that music is extremely beneficial to our patient’s wellbeing and ability to cope with hospital life. In recent evaluation of our music programme, we found that 97% if patients thought that participation in music activities had improved the hospital experience, and 89% thought their confidence had also improved.

“Normally it’s boring in hospital but it’s been fun today. I feel more confident having guitar lessons. I learned to play guitar and chimes. I learnt to play some real chords.” Mia aged 8 years.

We have recently completed an innovative music mentoring project funded by Youth Music Foundation, in collaboration with Live Music Now. The project trained early career musicians to deliver personalised music sessions in hospital, enabling us to bring more musicians into Alder Hey and work with a greater number of patients. We also produced a training film resource for other early career musicians who are interested in working in paediatric healthcare. The film can be viewed here:

performance space.jpg

We also work with Cascade Music CIC, who are currently delivering a research project on our Emergency Department, exploring the impact of music and its relationship to procedures administered there.

Performance space

In addition to our music programme on the wards, Alder Hey in the Park now has a designated performance area within the main atrium where we can showcase live musical performances from musicians and performers. Bringing live music to our atrium has been a fantastic addition to our arts programme and is being enjoyed by visitors and staff alike.


Taking-Flight.jpgWe have a long standing partnership with ‘Small Things Dance Collective. Their groundbreaking project ‘From Where You Are’, explored dance creation in a children’s healthcare setting and most notably, its impact on patients’ experience of pain. Their child centred approach toward based movement improvisation sessions has been recognized nationally and attracted interest from both dance and health professionals.

dancing on wards.jpg

This project won the inaugural NHS England Excellence in Participation: Children and Young People in March 2014, and in July 2017, was cited as exemplary practice in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry.

Small Things have since developed this work further and their new project, funded by Children in Need, is called ELATION. Regular dance and movement sessions are held with our long term patients on the Cardiac and Neuro Rehabilitation Wards, where patients can develop dance movements, develop muscle strength and coordination, and flexibility. The programme also features ward based participatory performances by the professional dancers from Small Things, where patients can join in.

"He was very happy. He had a lot of fun playing instruments and dancing. He managed to imitate the artist's dance and gestures. He loved playing with the yellow stretchy fabric. My son is autistic, this experience was brilliant for him to discover new textures, movements and toys." Mum of Lee aged 5 years



We have developed a number of contemporary craft residencies with nationally renowned artists, in partnership with Bluecoat Display Centre, the region’s leading contemporary craft centre. This project, called Young Makers, has been funded by the Lottery’s Awards for All programme.
The first residencies were with willow artist Caroline Gregson, who worked with patients on two wards to create individual willow pieces for patients to take home, as well as creating a larger willow piece, The Apiary, which now stand proudly in the Radiology Courtyard.

The following residency is with printmaker and textile artist Rachael Howard, who has been teaching our patients to silk screen print, creating a range of bespoke textiles pieces such as tote bags, flags and hankies.

Visual Arts and Literacy

We have a partnership with Comics Youth, an award winning Merseyside based organisation who have built up a strong track record of delivering comic-based projects with disadvantaged and marginalised children and young people.

Comics Youth drawing (1).jpg

In this project, called Patient’s Stories, artists from Comics Youth have been delivering weekly workshops across all areas of the hospital to encourage children and young people to tell their stories through the production of comics, cartoons and ‘zines’. The project aims to establish a better quality by life for patients whilst in hospital by addressing some of the underlying issues associated with long-term hospital stays such as isolation, anxiety and depression. It also helps participants develop new skills in visual literacy, story-telling and graphic design as well as transferable skills and life experiences such as decision-making and creative expression, which will support both their immediate wellbeing and also their future education and development.

The project will culminate in the production of an Alder Hey publication featuring the stories and drawings created by our patients.

The project has been funded by P H Holt and The Will Charitable Trust.


StopGap Dance (cropped).jpg

This is an innovative project, funded by Children in Need, and developed in partnership with DadaFest, a national arts organisation promoting deaf and disability arts. The project give long term patients the opportunity to have up to 20 hours of contact time with a professional artist of their choice – patients can choose a variety of art forms to engage with, from drumming to dance, song writing to card making. This is a three year project which started in October 2018. Children and young people will be encouraged to create work which can either be performed or exhibited at the Young DadaFest Showcase, which takes place in Liverpool every July.

The project also brings professional disabled artists to work with and perform for the patients, as part of the International DadaFest Festival. In November, disabled dancers from StopGap Dance Company performed in the hospital’s Performance Space as well as delivering workshops on the wards.

Art around Alder Hey

Art in Alder Hey in the Park has been inspired by children and young people who have led the way from the beginning. The Children and Young People’s Design Group has been an advisory group on the development of art in the hospital, has set briefs and interviewed artists, as well as engaging in practical arts workshops.

Artists have responded enthusiastically to their ideas and their wish for the art in Alder Hey in the Park to reflect the theme of nature.

The Lead Artist for this project was Lucy Casson, who has created artwork for the main entrance and atrium, the signage, the glass balustrades and windows and even the designs for the curtains in the patient’s bedrooms. She spent time both researching the locality and working with the children and young people. Her quirky creatures are designed to assist the visitor with way-finding around the hospital. Her hanging sculpture, suspended from the atrium ceiling, is called Roost (main picture) and features one hundred hand painted birds and creatures, referencing Alder Hey’s one hundred year history.

At the North Entrance, you will see the poem Trees are Great by poet Roger McGough with lettering which has been designed by artist Pip Hall.

The poem reflects the overall environmental theme which has been the inspiration for all art work in the hospital. McGough’s poems are featured around the hospital in the most unlikely of places, see if you can spot them!

If you enter the hospital from the car park, you will hear the sound of birds singing. Entitled ‘Wildsong at Dawn’, this is a sound piece by the UK’s leading sound recordist Chris Watson and features the dawn chorus recorded in 2007 in Springfield Park.

The piece was played for many years in the main corridor of the old hospital and has been brought into Alder Hey in the Park as a fitting link between old and new.

Amongst many other artworks in the new hospital: Alyosha Moeran has created stone carved pieces for the Bereavement Garden, and Linda Schwab has created art for the Sanctuary. Artists Catrin Jones, David Pearl and Dan Linn-Pearl have created an installation, Immersion, to create a multi-sensory environment using film, sound and lighting for the aquatherapy pool

With many thanks to Arts Consultant, Lesley Greene.




All artwork in Alder Hey in the Park has been funded charitably and we are very grateful to all of our funders and donors, individuals and organisations, for making this work possible.

Funding Arts for Health

The Arts for Health programme is funded entirely through charitable sources, and is generously supported by Alder Hey Children’s Charity.

We are also fortunate to have received funding for our many projects from a number of external organisations: these include Arts Council England, Children in Need, Heritage Lottery Fund, Awards for All, Youth Music Foundation, the Big Lottery Fund, The People’s Project, The Hemby Trust and Wallace and Gromit’s Children’s Charity. We are also grateful to the many individual donors who support our programme.

If you would like to support our Arts programme, please contact the Alder Hey Children’s Charity online or by phone on 0151 252 5716.

Partners and Collaborators

We work in partnership with a wide range of arts organisations who are all committed to providing the best of arts practice for children and young people while in hospital.

Our collaborators include:

  • Tate Liverpool
  • FACT (Foundation for Arts and Creative Technology)
  • The Comedy Trust
  • Small Dance Things Dance Collective
  • Everyman and Playhouse Theatre
  • Live Music Now
  • DadaFest
  • MDI
  • Twin Vision
  • University of Liverpool
  • Manchester Metropolitan University Arts for Health Department
Back to Services

Alder Hey Children's Charity
Hide this section
Show/hide accessibility tools

Alder Hey Children's Charity