The 2020 results of the national Culture Health & Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA) awards have been announced for 2020 and Plymouth Music Zone was named the overall winner for the Practising Well Award.

There were over 80 applicants from across the country for the awards, each presenting examples of creative practice that demonstrate commitment to nurturing and shaping ‘cultures of care’ for each other, our communities and the planet.

PMZ was nominated by one of its music leaders, Holly Bench, who says,

“I nominated PMZ for this award because they truly care about the wellbeing of their team. I believe they are leading the way in practitioner care from management level all the way through to music leaders and volunteers by providing a ‘support hub’ of a variety of opportunities where we can support each other and share our skills.”

Artist and researcher Nicola Naismith, who was part of the judging panel, said regarding PMZ’s entry:

“It was clear when reviewing one particular application the breadth and depth of the practitioner support available really stood out. The support was described as a hub which offers a range of activities including work shadowing opportunities and snapshot observations, skills pods, pastoral support and supervision. Furthermore practitioners are also employed to deliver training to peer groups which indicates the value placed upon their experience. The support is also financially accessible with paid time to attend and engage in training and support activities.

The organisation has created a model of support which is embedded within its structure and workplace culture and in so doing we felt raised the support expectations of creative practitioners. We feel this model has the potential to be widely adapted and applied to other organisations working in arts for health and wellbeing.”

The online award ceremony was attended by Glyn Fuge (PMZ Finance & Impact Director) and Anna Batson (PMZ Creativity & Learning Director / Music Leader). They both expressed how encouraging it was that the hard work of the PMZ team has been acknowledged during these times especially. Anna says:

“We were nominated for this award prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and would originally have been travelling to Derby to meet other organisations and projects who had been shortlisted. We were absolutely blown away by winning the overall Practising Well Award 2020. It means a huge amount to us – we found ourselves feeling unexpectedly emotional about it!

It’s just amazing that we have achieved national recognition for how we place practitioner wellbeing at the centre of what we do. As a relatively small charity in Plymouth, we are so proud to think that others may be learning from what we are doing. We feel so much hope in the thought that we might be helping to shape new ways of thinking, and improve things elsewhere for other organisations and individuals.

The Covid-19 pandemic has tested everyone’s resilience and for PMZ, so many of our ways of working and connecting with one another. However, our support mechanisms have really helped us retain focus throughout. We have been learning and embracing new ways of working and reaching people. We have continued to prioritise things like regular online catch-ups and support for music leaders, including reflection and discussion sessions.

We’ve risen to so many new challenges and amongst all this it means so much to know that our model of practice we use to support our team has equipped us well to keep going. It’s fantastic to be celebrated in this way that makes us feel bigger than the sum of our parts and we are beyond proud of our whole team for making this happen.”

Further details about the award with a full list of winners can be found here:
https://www.culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk/chwa-2020-awards-results