More articles

Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination discuss their partnership with KISS

26 March, 2024 Reading: 5:22 mins

Ruth Sapsed, Director of Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination, describes the long-term, fruitful partnership we've had over the years.

Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination discuss their partnership with KISS

We’ve been working in our region for 20 years and are proud to count KISS as a long-standing partner since our earliest beginnings. Children and young people are at the heart of all our work as an arts and wellbeing charity. We concentrate on how the youngest members of our communities and everyone around them (teachers, parents, neighbours, family) can flourish – and accessing their powers of curiosity and imagination are essential to unlock this.

Over the years we’ve learnt how these qualities can be developed by inviting people into playful environments, particularly natural ones, and giving them confidence to express their own ideas. Nature stimulates both curiosity and imagination which fuels creativity – we call this practice Artscaping. Our evidence-based programmes focus on communities facing difficult challenges, fostering networks of Artscapers with deep connections with each other and the world on their doorsteps.

Providing time and space early on for children to reconnect (or connect for the first time!) with nature and art is the actual ‘medicine’ that’s required. Giving children a fresh start, with the adults seeing them a-new with talents that were previously under the surface, is huge.

Paula Ayliffe, Co-headteacher, Mayfield Primary School

There is an increasingly bleak national picture for children’s health and wellbeing and the very real inequalities in our beautiful city itself – people living in the ward of Abbey have a life expectancy 10 years less than those living in Newnham and some of the children we worked with in Arbury didn’t know the city has a river.

We’ve developed fruitful relationships with many Cambridge institutions, including the University of Cambridge, Anglia Ruskin University, Addenbrooke’s hospital, the city and county councils, many schools, and the region’s leading mental health charities. In 2019 we joined with other leading third sector organisations in the region – including Centre 33, CPSL Mind, Blue Smile and The Kite Trust – to help found Fullscope, a consortium working to improve children’s lives across the county. The impact of our joint work already has been striking, with partners across the statutory and voluntary systems wanting to join forces to think differently about how mental health support can be relevant, accessible and inclusive.

Creative synergy – how marketing and an arts and wellbeing charity are aligned

Although a creative agency and an arts and wellbeing charity may not seem to have much in common, we share many values and there’s much that enriches both organisations in our collaboration. We’re lucky to have forged a significant and long-standing partnership with KISS, which has helped us immeasurably as we tell the story of our work to the wider world.

Creativity and community are at the heart of both KISS and CCI’s work, and our core aim, to nourish curiosity and imagination, is also at the heart of KISS’ mission –one of their core values being ‘Curiosity’. We were really proud to win Best Corporate Partnership for our work together at the National Arts Fundraising School’s Emcee Awards 2020.

Nurturing creativity for corporate teams

Once a year, the team at KISS take part in one of our Day in the Woods away days. We’ve run these for many years now, for teams ranging from primary school teachers and mental health support workers to corporates and small businesses. We have access to a very special woodland location just a few miles outside Cambridge, provide delicious food and artist-led activities to give teams time to be together differently and to feel nourished by nature and their own creativity.

How powerful it was to spend a day like that together. It says far more than just repeatedly stating ‘wellbeing is key’ – it actually made time for it and freed us all up to embrace that. I felt energised, content, peaceful, and an even stronger sense of belonging.

KISS team member

Old partnership, new website

We’ve been thrilled to work with KISS recently to improve the way we communicate the value of CCI’s work, and at the heart of this has been a beautiful new website.

Over the years, we’d built up a huge wealth of resources and research papers, photos and films, but our old website had become so unruly that they were impossible to find. We worked with KISS to create a fantastic new site that beautifully showcases our work.

What’s next for CCI?

Nature is good for you and nature with art is even better. If we do nothing else after the coronavirus crisis, let’s make every child everywhere an Artscaper.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, former Director of the National Trust and Master of Emmanuel College

These are powerful words, and we want to make them a reality. We’re working with our colleagues from Fullscope and UCL on models to continue to scale the scope and reach of our work. There are 34,000 children and young people currently with mental health problems in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, yet waiting lists are overwhelmed and schools need support. If you’d like to work with us to help make a difference then do please get in touch.

As part of the Cambridge Festival, CCI hosted an ‘Imaginarium Takeover’ on the front lawns of King’s College on 23 and 24 March. The drop in sessions asked 'What Would Nature Do?', focussing on nature inspired creativity and immersive experiences, with hands-on activities and spaces to learn and talk – find out more here and see photos from the vibrant event.

You may be interested in

The SEO diaries: part 2 – content is king, but strategy is kingmaker