Alder Hey in the Park | Alder Hey Children's Hospital

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Arts for Health

Copy of Twin Vision websiteAs a patient or visitor coming to Alder Hey, 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.

“The arts lift the mood on the ward to one of light-heartedness and fun. It includes everyone and excludes no one. Everyone I have met through the Arts for Health programme has been passionate about their art form and wanted to make the patient’s and family’s stays the best it can be. Their passion is then shared with the patients, families and staff making a big difference. More please!”  – Parent of patient

There are lots of opportunities to get involved and we make our activities as interactive as possible. We work with a team of highly experienced professional artists who are delivering projects which aim to make the hospital as welcoming as possible and your experience as a patient very special. Our arts programme in Alder Hey has been recognised regionally and nationally for its quality and its focus on the patients. It is much easier to give examples of what we have been doing recently and many of these projects are still carrying on.


The hospital has a long standing partnership since 2009 with ‘Twin Vision’, a media charity specialising in projects that develop skills in photography, film, animation and audio.

In 2016, Twin Vision  worked with our Oncology Unit, this time to create a “Welcome to 3B” film which could be used by patients and their families coming onto the Unit for the first time. The film covers all aspects of life on the ward from a patient’s perspective, from the ward chefs preparing meals to activities in the school classroom.

Patients were involved in all aspects of making the film; in December, we held a special film premiere to celebrate the children and young people’s achievements which was attended by over 150 people!

As well as the film above, you can also watch the accompanying documentary on Vimeo.

Throughout 2017, Twin Vision have worked with patients on Ward 4A to develop a project in partnership with Tate Liverpool. Inspired by contemporary artist Tracey Emin’s seminal artwork, ‘My Bed’, patients have made an animation film about their own bed, what inspires them about their bed and what adventures their bed might have. Patients developed the script, made the models and sets, and took part in filming and editing and the voice overs. The resulting animation and documentary film showcasing the project were shown at Tate Liverpool in the first floor galleries as part of their Tate Exchange programme. Visitor feedback to the work by our patients was incredibly positive:

“It was overwhelming seeing myself and my art in the Tate!”  Amelia (patient).

“Thanks so much for allowing the children to be a part of the animation. They both loved it and were excited to see the finished article. They liked seeing themselves in the documentary as well.  A brilliant idea for children to take part in whilst in hospital, staff were so encouraging and engaging.” Parent of patient.

As well as the film above, you can also watch the Bedlam documentary and Tate Liverpool documentary.


We have an extensive music programme running throughout the hospital.

In April 2017, the Arts for Health team won substantial funding for our music programme through the Big Lottery Fund’s, The People’s Project. Our music project called Music Matters was shown on ITV Granada’s News programme, where we were in competition with four other North West community projects to receive funding through a  public vote. Our project received the most votes to win the funding and  we are now fortunate to be able to place a musician to work with patients on each of our 8 in-patient wards once a week for a whole year.

“I heard the musician playing across the corridor and couldn’t wait for my turn.” Noah aged 4 years

“It helped to break up the day and stimulate a very fed up and sad little boy. It really cheered up Jake and gave him something else to focus on. It’s the first time he has smiled all day!” Mum of Jake aged 2 years

In 2015, we received funding from the Youth Music Foundation to deliver a music project in collaboration with Live Music Now, who have a distinguished track record and national reputation in working with people who have been traditionally excluded from live music programmes. Our Musical Mentoring project enabled us to bring new musicians into the hospital and in turn, work with a greater number of patients.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, we will be continuing to work with these musicians and train new musicians from Live Music Now, through a bespoke mentoring programme, thanks to continued funding through the Youth Music Foundation. We will be working on our Cardiac, Oncology, Neurological wards and our mental health unit with this project, where we will be able to support even more patients.

We are also working with the group Cascade Music who throughout 2017 and 2018 are delivering a two year music residency on a number of wards, supported by Arts Council England, and Wallace and Gromit Children’s Charity.

Performance space at Alder Hey in the ParkPerformance 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.


We 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.

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.

Taking-FlightSmall Things have since developed this project further: their new programme, ‘From There to Here’, takes nature and the outdoors as its starting point for dance and movement, utilising the new location for Alder Hey in the Park. Their work culminated in a spectacular dance performance called ‘Taking Flight’ which was performed throughout the hospital in May 2016. The inspiration for this piece was theme of transition, the move from the old hospital into the new and the birds in our spectacular artwork, Roost.

“Beautiful! My daughter loved the dance performance (and me too!).  Very creative and most enjoyable.” Parent of patient

“How serene and beautiful.  A lovely breath of fresh air in a busy and stressful hospital! Helps healing!” Clinical Nurse Specialist

We are grateful to Arts Council England, Awards for All and PH Holt for the funding of the Small Things Dance Programme.

Visual Arts

Alder Hey 'All about us' project with Tate LiverpoolAll About Us was a joint project between Tate Liverpool and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital that engaged children, young people, teachers and hospital staff in exploring archival materials from Tate and Liverpool Medical Institution archives. The Project ran for eight months, during which time Harriet Hall (Lead Artist) and Michaela Swan (Trainee Project Manager), worked with patients, families, hospital, local schools and communities to create online learning resources. The theme of Transition from old to new was the starting point for activities, which connected to the history of the hospital, artistic practice, and everyday life.

An exhibition of the artwork created by the children and young people was held at Tate Liverpool during December 2015.


This autumn, we are delighted to welcome artist Caroline Gregson for an eight week residency. Caroline is a willow artist whose work is inspired by the natural environment. She will be working with patients to create their own sculptural pieces as well as a larger commission which will go on permanent display in the hospital. The residency is a collaboration with Bluecoat Display Centre and generously funded by Arts Council England.

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