I have been volunteering with Women's Aid RCT for a few years now, and this year I was lucky enough to tie this in with my art degree - by doing my placement sessions with service users.

I ran therapeutic art sessions directly after the weekly Freedom Programme, which gave participants a space to unwind after the FP as well as an opportunity to get in touch with their creative sides. I had some lovely feedback from the groups and saw first-hand the bonds that formed in the art sessions as well as the beautiful work that was created. Participants told me that they found they really enjoyed the sessions, with some saying that they didn't realise they enjoyed painting until they did it with me - and now that they have plans to continue now in their spare time. They said the sessions helped them to "chill out" as well as make new friends and new support systems.

There is evidence to show that engaging in creative activities is beneficial to your mental health and can help with working through trauma and stress. The sessions were tailored to suit the participants each week, with the intention of helping the women to process the Freedom Programme and leave the sessions feeling more confident in themselves.

Being able to do my placement with Women's Aid made my placement so much more meaningful for me as I got to spend it doing the things I enjoy with the people I most want to work with once I have my degree. I am continuing volunteering and offering therapeutic art sessions to women.

Karen S