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Community / ‘Being creative can change your life’: new organisation looks to support those in need

The Purple Loft Project aims to provide free creative materials with an emphasis on boosting mental health and wellbeing

A NEW not-for-profit organisation has been launched aiming to provide free creative materials – such as pens, paint, craft kits and small instruments – to people in need across Shetland.

Ashlea Tulloch is behind the Purple Loft Project.

The Purple Loft Project has secured a grant of nearly £5,000 from the Scottish Government’s communities mental health and wellbeing fund to kick things off.

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The scheme – which has an emphasis on supporting young people experiencing mental health issues and low-income families – is the work of Ashlea Tulloch from Stromfirth.

She said she struggled with her own mental health when she was younger, “hardly leaving the house for years”, and explained that having access to art and music “really saved me”.

“I would’ve really benefitted from a project like this one, and I know there’s so many young people around Shetland who will benefit from it now, especially after the effects of the pandemic,” Tulloch added.

A key aim of the Purple Loft Project is to reduce creative inequality in Shetland and allow everyone to be able to improve their mental health and wellbeing through creativity.

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The new funding will be used to buy and distribute packs of creative materials to an initial target of 100 people in Shetland.

Details on how to receive a pack of materials will be released shortly, but Tulloch said she wants the project to be as accessible as possible.

“I don’t want people to have to jump through hoops to receive a pack of materials – it’s hard enough to ask for help,” she added.

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“There should be no barriers to being creative, especially for people already struggling with their mental health”.

Purple Loft Project is also collecting donations of unwanted art and craft supplies from members of the public to establish a creative lending library for anyone to access.

Donations can be dropped off at The Bop Shop on Harbour Street in Lerwick on Saturday (5 February) between 10am and 1pm, while people can also hear more about the project.

Tulloch has been involved in a variety of local charities and fundraising over the years, but Purple Loft sees her launching her own project for the first time.

“I have been delighted by the support from everyone so far,” she said.

“There’s no limit to the good that can come from someone having the chance to create, but the reality is that not everyone can afford to, and not everyone knows where to start.

“I know that some free materials aren’t going to solve any major issues overnight, but I really hope this project could give people that bit of confidence or self-belief, or an outlet to use when they might otherwise retreat in on themselves.

“Being creative really can change your life, and I want Purple Loft Project to be able to do that for someone.”

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