The Orb we all know and love, tucked away in the heart of Knaresborough, has been making a difference for some years now by offering creative therapy to those of us with ‘severe and enduring mental health problems’.  With a strong mental health ethos, Orb provides creative therapy five days a week through music, visual arts, sound and visual recording, creative writing, IT and gardening.

Now, thanks to funding from NYCC’s Innovation Fund, Orb is also offering something very new: a year-long  programme of three  FREE evening events each week aimed at promoting positive mental wellbeing, in addition to responding to mental crisis.


Three new, original and inspiring evening groups

On Monday evenings from 7.00 pm till 9.00 a Natural Voice’ singing group is meeting with Soundsphere from York. These will be relaxed and friendly evenings with, as the name suggests, a very natural approach – no previous singing training required.

From 7.00 till 9.00 on Thursdays a new art group is exploring a wide range of media with local artist Helen Graham. Again, no experience required – just an interest in expressing yourself through art.

Also on Thursdays, at 6.30pm, a group of keen budding sound recordists  (could this be you?) will be taking to the byways of Knaresborough, recording some of the natural sounds of our community. Back in the studio, sonic artist David Littler will give guidance on using these sounds to create a unique montage, as group members learn  new recording and sound blending techniques.

Three times a year the groups will come together to share their new skills and achievements.


So what’s the big idea behind it all?  (Apart from just enjoying it, obviously).

We all have ‘mental health’, just as we all have ‘physical health’.   We often only think about these things when they go wrong.

Sometimes we may feel a bit down – the equivalent of having ‘a bit of a cold’. Sometimes it may be something more catastrophic: profound depression, bipolar disorder or overwhelming anxiety; cancer or a broken leg or acute diabetes; all of which stop us in our tracks for a time and prevent us from engaging in our lives like we used to. We may feel isolated.  In a bubble all on our own.

Which is when we need help, and this is where Orb offers us a possible way through the bubble, engaging on our own terms in a creative activity very simply and quietly (or very actively and noisily in the case of music and sound recording).

But wouldn’t it be better if we could also  do something to help reduce the effects of these mental health problems before they take a real grip?

In physical health the NHS has been trying for some years to promote the idea of ‘physical wellbeing’. There is a vast range of websites devoted to the idea of healthy eating, healthy exercise, giving up smoking, drinking, drugs . . . you name it!

Of course it makes sense to do whatever we can to keep ourselves more physically healthy.   It makes us feel better, it extends our lives and it’s a lot less painful than putting things right when they’ve gone badly wrong.  And it makes equal sense to take positive steps to look after our mental wellbeing!

You may already be receiving treatment from your doctor for a problem such as depression or anxiety. You may already be on short term sick leave. Or you may just feel  that the stresses of life are starting to get to you and that now would be a good time to do something about it, before it gets any worse.

Orb’s new evening groups are designed to help you develop new and exciting skills, obviously, but also to inspire you to re-engage positively with life and to help you climb out of those negative feelings.

We’ve talked before on this blog about Mind‘s Five Steps to mental wellbeing:

  • connecting with others
  • being more active
  • taking notice of the world we live in
  • keeping learning
  • giving to others.

Orb’s new evening groups groups reflect all of these ideals.  And what’s more, you don’t have to be wildly sociable to come along. Some of us are fizzing with ideas but  many of us are also  very quiet, philosophical and reflective people.  The mix seems to work.


So how do I access these groups?

You don’t need money. You don’t need any specific talent or experience.  You don’t even need to be feeling cheerful.  All you need is a desire to try something new and creative, and a commitment to developing a positive mental health ethos, for yourself and other people.


To find out more:

  • Walk down to the end of the alley by Tesco’s on Knaresborough High Street and open the door marked ‘ORB’.
  • Ring 01423 202028 and ask for Leon or Mark
  • E-mail: