Helena Copsey, Arts Manager, St George’s Hospital Charity

What does your role normally involve?

I manage the St George’s Hospital Charity Arts Programme, which brings art and creativity into our hospitals. The arts programme provides opportunities for patients, their families and staff to engage in the arts. We manage a group of artists and musicians who provide creative sessions for patients at the bedside, we care for the hospital’s art collection of over 800 artworks, we organise temporary exhibitions and provide opportunities for staff to access arts and culture.

How has it changed as a result of Covid-19?

Our artists and musicians are temporarily unable to visit the hospital, so we’ve been working to find new ways to connect creatively with patients and staff. We have launched a new virtual arts programme which will feature a range of creative activities for both patients and staff that can be easily accessed online. I’ve also been supporting other areas of the Charity including our Covid-19 Grants Programme.

What is the most interesting thing about your change in role?

We have had to adapt quickly and embrace digital technology – for example, we’re currently piloting one-to-one artist sessions with patients over Zoom. It’s exciting to think that this new way of working could continue in the long-term, allowing us to reach more patients. In particular, where traditionally they would have to physically go somewhere to access art, now we are bringing art directly to our patients, through the power of technology. 

What has most impressed you about the response of staff/colleagues?

My colleagues in the Charity have been working tirelessly to support staff and patients, from fundraising for the Coronavirus Appeal to organising donations of furniture for the Wellbeing Hubs, all whilst working remotely. I’ve also been blown away by how staff from across the Trust have adapted to new roles and transformed services so quickly, all whilst still placing patient care at the heart of their vocation.

What is the hardest thing about the current circumstances?

It can feel frustrating working from home sometimes, especially when I’m used to popping down the corridor to ask a question or to simply get something done. But we’ve had invaluable support on the ground from a team of SGUL volunteers and Trust colleagues, my job would be impossible without them!