WOMANuel: Creative Wellbeing for Women

Nonsuch have recently teamed up with Emmanuel House this summer to deliver WOMANuel – a bespoke 6-week pilot creative wellbeing programme for their female service users.

One of Nonsuch’s main principles is to focus participation programmes on communities with high deprivation indicators and low engagement with the arts and cultural sector and we’re advocates for the arts being beneficial to health & well-being. After volunteering at Emmanuel House (EH) over the Christmas period Nonsuch felt a need to bring our positive practice to the beneficiaries of EH. Emmanuel House (EH) exists to support homeless, vulnerable or isolated adults in and around Nottingham supporting the most vulnerable citizens without prejudice or judgement; striving to provide diverse and accessible services that meet basic need and empower individuals to make positive changes in their lives. Due to the large ratio of male to female service users of EH, it was felt by EH management that there was a need for activities specifically focused on and for women.  Created in conjunction with the EH wellbeing team and Nonsuch Outreach practitioners, as well as consultation with EH female service users, WOMANuel was formed. Service users of EH have complex and multiple needs and awareness of this was built into the programme to ensure accessibility for all as well as being led by female practitioners. The sessions were open to all female service users of EH and through referrals from the EH wellbeing team.

WOMANuel is a new social inclusion, wellbeing and creative development programme for the female service users of EH, and associated services, delivered by Nonsuch – using drama and theatre as the mechanism for developing positive self-expression, boosting creative confidence and engaging with new opportunities.  In parallel to the core creative and drama sessions, participants also experienced tasters of a number of creative wellbeing activities to empower and expand the experiences of the women taking part. Creative sessions began at EH and built in confidence throughout the programme to journey through different art forms, activities and explore venues in and around Nottingham City Centre and like all Nonsuch programmes, WOMANuel was designed to produce a participant-led creative tangible outcome that participants can be proud of. 

The outcome measures specified by Emmanuel House for this programme was to improve confidence, improve mental health & wellbeing, improve relationships and reduce isolation; we gathered and tracked this information through a variety of means including feedback questionnaires, observations, written quotes and most importantly the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being scale (WEMWBS) – developed by mental wellbeing experts, and is often used by scientists, psychologists and the NHS to enable the monitoring of mental wellbeing in the general population and the evaluation of projects, programmes and policies which aim to improve mental wellbeing.

Over six-weeks, on a Thursday afternoon, Nonsuch delivered a number of drama-based confidence, trust and wellbeing exercises and conducted visits to local cultural venues including KK’s Tea House and Nottingham Contemporary to engage with new experiences. The group created a collage inspired by their visit to the Linder exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary, which will be on display at EH and the activity allowed for mindfulness and open chats. All who participated in the programme developed their skills in creativity, teamwork, communication & drama and taken part in activities to develop confidence building, critical thinking & mindfulness.

‘’It’s great to see everyone bonding. It’s so nice to hear laughter in the place. You’ve created a real buzz at Emmanuel House.’’ – Emmanuel House Management Team.

Our findings from our pilot project indicated that:

  • Over the course of the programme, participants mental wellbeing significantly improved.
  • We gathered evidence to support that the four desired outcome measures identified by EH were achieved.
  • From our sample, the average wellbeing score at the beginning was 45.5 (average) which increased to an average score of 63 (above average) – a 38% increase.
  • If a participant’s score increased by three to eight WEMWBS points during the project, WEMWBS would be demonstrating that mental wellbeing meaningfully improved over the course of the project. Our average participant total score rose by 17.5.
  • 232% increase in those feeling comfortable to take part & share information.
  • 100% of participants felt their confidence had improved.
  • 100% of participants felt that their general well being improved.
  • Participants indicated that they had achieved their own personal goals ranging from: making more friends, having fun, meeting other great women to feeling less isolated.

‘’Fun. Happy. Safe. Comfortable. Helpful. Making me confident. Met loads of friends.’’

– Participant Feedback


We are absolutely thrilled to announce that funding has been secured to continue WOMANuel in A/W 18/19. Future sessions will continue to focus on mental health, confidence & wellbeing as well as problem solving, mindfulness, the future, positive thinking, physical activities and employability skills – even vintage makeovers! In the meantime, the group will continue to meet every Thursday afternoon for tea, snacks & chats.

”It’s been amazing to see the growth of WOMANuel from idea to delivery and the impact has been an incredible result and added bonus. We can’t wait for the future!” – Edward Boott, Artistic Director & CEO of Nonsuch.