Sheffield Hospitals Charity are proud to support many incredible projects run by Arts in Health, a programme of patient and staff-focused activities, performances and artistic enhancements that aim to foster creativity and wellbeing benefits through the arts. One such project has been Hand over Hand, a moving performance that formed part of a countrywide celebration of the NHS at 75.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals staff perform Hand over Hand at Aviva Studios in Manchester

During 2023, Arts in Health at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals worked with 54 members of staff on the Our National Health Stories project to commemorate 75 years of the NHS. Inspired by their daily working lives, staff members from a wide range of different roles wrote poetry, recorded sounds and contributed drawings. NHS staff worked alongside composers, writers and choreographers to create original and touching work that drew inspiration from the joys and challenges of their everyday working lives. These pieces were then used to create a performance consisting of a song, dance, sound, poetry and animation held at Theatre Deli on 30th November 2023. 

Speaking after watching the performance at Theatre Deli, Kirsten Major, CEO of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

It’s just incredible to see these people do some of the most amazing and wonderful jobs on a day to day basis - the fact that they are also as talented and as creative as has been made clear tonight is just brilliant to see.

The performance was part of a countrywide project titled ‘Our National Health Stories, which you can find more about on their website. The project brought together art projects produced by 19 different trusts across England, allowing staff members to tell their stories of working within the NHS through their own creative mediums, and working on their pieces over a six month time period. 

Performers practicing the dance aspect of the performance

I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved in a short space of time.  Our staff are wonderful and we should celebrate them each and every day, not just as workers but as human beings who always go above and beyond what is expected of them.  I am really pleased that we were able to provide them with an opportunity to dance, sing, share, laugh and perform together.

Mir Jansen, Arts Coordinator, Arts in Health at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals 

As part of the project on a larger scale, the performance was also part of an online broadcast on 23rd November, where a ‘baton’ was passed between the 19 different trusts involved, each with their own unique performances that had come about as the result of their local Our National Health Stories staff art project. The video in which Sheffield’s project features can be found below between Somerset and York’s performance, at 8:07 minutes in.

Filming of singers performing from the heart of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in the plant room

A live finale performance was also held at Manchester’s Aviva Studios. The recorded performance can be watched online (Our National Health Stories LIVE FINALE - YouTube), with the piece from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals beginning at 1:38:30.

I have found this project uplifting, it has improved my mood and given me a creative outlet, and the chance to connect with other NHS workers outside my usual sphere on a deep level. We have shared our joys and our pain and supported each other. The conversations as well as the movement and song have been therapeutic. I know others in my group have felt the same… It has re-invigorated my belief in the power of the arts to heal, to bring joy, to enable expression and to connect people in ways that words alone and emails do not.

Rachel Foster, consultant in infection diseases

Staff performers read a poem written for Hand over Hand at the Theatre Deli performance in Sheffield

I enjoy the arts regularly outside of my work so to be able to connect my two worlds was very rewarding… it was a momentous, unprecedented occasion. I hope more arts for NHS staff can be funded in the future.

Christina, pharmacy technician

To find out more the important work done by Arts in Health, who receive funding for most of their projects from Sheffield Hospitals Charity, visit their website.