for Arts
& Culture
Visual Arts/Museums | Milton Keynes

Arts for Health Milton KeynesArts on Prescription

Arts for Health Milton Keynes (AfHMK) uses arts and creativity to improve health and well-being, delivering arts activities, events and exhibitions in health care and community settings.

Since being established as a charity in 2004, AfHMK has curated the art collection at Milton Keynes University Hospital of over 400 art works, including sculptures and the creative courtyards.

Since 2011, AfHMK has also provided Arts on Prescription for people in Milton Keynes with health and wellbeing challenges. Within this programme, they have developed progressive courses (such as Step Up) which enable participants to develop their own artistic practice whilst strengthening their personal resilience

Arts for Health Milton Keynes

Arts for Health Milton Keynes

Arts for Health Milton Keynes

Arts for Health Milton Keynes

Target Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are adults with mental and physical health issues. The Arts on Prescription programme is primarily aimed at people with mild to moderate mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety or depression. However, some participants have been referred for other conditions including cognitive problems, trauma, brain injury, bipolar and schizophrenia. Some who attend have physical health problems which also have an impact on their mental health. 16% self referred, 84% referred from a variety of sources.

AfHMK’s role is to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for people in Milton Keynes through the arts and creativity. They have seven project aims:

  • Improve participants’ personal health and wellbeing
  • Increase self-confidence
  • Reduce social isolation
  • Empower individuals to make positive lifestyle choices
  • Reduce GP visits, medication needs and in-patient hospital stays
  • Improve work skills and increase employability
  • Increase active community participation

AfHMK’s ambition for the next five years is to increase the impact of their contribution to the health and wellbeing of the Milton Keynes community by focusing on their core strengths of enhancing the hospital environment with artistic interventions and delivering therapeutic arts workshops through the Arts on Prescription Programme.


Arts for Health Milton Keynes delivers innovative and inclusive arts activities, events and exhibitions in health care and community settings.

In the wider community they deliver a series of art workshops for many different groups of people facing health challenges, including people with dementia and young people going through a difficult time. The longest running programme is Arts on Prescription, which offers free 12 week art courses for adults with mental and physical health issues.

During COVID-19, Arts for Health launched a range of free Arts on Prescription workshops for adults and young people, available remotely via Zoom.

Arts for Health also provides a range of free digital resources, ranging from art to dance and movement tutorials to exhibitions to explore.


Since the start of the Arts on Prescription programme, over 300 people have participated and evaluation of the programme shows that participants report improvements to their health and wellbeing through taking part.

From 2011-12 evaluation report:




The evaluation suggested that participation helped to build self-esteem, increase confidence and contribute to improved relationships with others.

Participants had an enhanced sense of personal and mental wellbeing; greater confidence and ability in relation to social integration; an increased desire to engage in outside activities (ie work, volunteering, ongoing engagement with art).

Findings suggest these impacts are achieved because participants engage with art as a therapeutic tool, changing their perspectives on their life and mental health and encourage active and self-directed change.

Since 2016-17 AfHMK have introduced a progression programme Step Up for participants to further develop their artistic practice and build their resilience.

Advocacy Film


The course has been very helpful in regaining my confidence and ability to interact with strangers. I leave the sessions feeling very relaxed and happy. Since being on the course I am now taking my medication regularly and I am confident that I will be able to reach a stage where I am able to stop the medication. I have now started reading again, a pleasure I have not been able to do for 4 years. I attribute my improvement in life in a great way to Arts on Prescription.


The organisation is funded by Smile MK, Milton Keynes Council, MK Community Foundation, Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund, Santander Foundation, Milton Keynes Hospital Charity, Rothschild Foundation, ART UK. The Arts on Prescription programme initially received a three year Big Lottery Grant and since this funding ended, has been funded by a succession of smaller grants from SEMLEP, Rothschild Foundation and MK Council Community Learning.