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Mental health service users left ‘heartbroken’ after artwork binned

PUBLISHED: 15:31 26 May 2016 | UPDATED: 15:31 26 May 2016

Service users at the Highgate Day Centre were left feeling

Service users at the Highgate Day Centre were left feeling "devastated" after art work produced during years of therapy was thrown out witout warning

Archant

Service users at a mental health day centre in Camden were “heartbroken” after hundreds of pieces of artwork produced during therapeutic art classes were thrown out with the rubbish.

Service users at a mental health day centre in Camden were “heartbroken” after hundreds of pieces of artwork produced during therapeutic art classes were thrown out with the rubbish.

The discarded pottery, paintings and drawings were found outside the Highgate Day Centre in Highgate Road, where art therapy is offered to those with serious mental health problems by the Camden and Islington (C&I) Trust.

The woman who found them, a service user, alerted past and present members of the centre before she began rooting through the bins to rescue the art, helped by the staff.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “There were a lot of people really heartbroken by the loss of their art and that of their friends, especially the art of their friends who weren’t alive anymore. I felt overwhelmed.

“I knew a few of the stories they’d told in their art, horrible, sad things and beautiful things.”

She said: “I think the temporary staff there hadn’t realised what a fuss there would be, and they were suddenly worried about how it would look, and so they helped me.

“It wasn’t a very pleasant job, rooting through an industrial sized bin, but we got as much of it as we could out.”

Those who had produced the art were allowed to collect it the next day from the centre, which has seen its funding from Camden Council slashed from £270,000 to £130,000 per year.

Long-term manager Tony Creedon recently retired after 40 years, and many users fear the services provided by the centre are being gradually dismantled.

Weekly “graduate drop-in” sessions for those who have finished their prescribed course of treatment but benefit from continued support are set to end in November.

A spokesman for C&I said: “We apologise that some unfinished art was mistakenly discarded, as this was not our intention.

“During work to clear space in the art room, pieces were put to one side to be placed in storage until graduates were able to collect work they wished to keep. Items were accidentally disposed of before this could happen.

“The majority of this work was recovered, and we have now written to graduates, as was always our plan, to invite them to collect pieces they wish to take home.

“Any work that remains will be donated to mental health charity Mind.”

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