An art project for people who are living with long-term chronic illness in Northumberland has received funding to run another round of sessions.

CompassionART, a Dilly Arts project, has received £20,153 from the NHS Northumberland Winter Resilience Fund.

The project is being delivered as part of the launch of the Northumberland Recovery College.

Dilly Arts founder Ally Redshaw-Boxwell was diagnosed with ME in 2015.

“I was really quite poorly for a number of years and there were stages where I was bed-bound,” Ally said.

The mum-of-three, who lives in Hexham, said when she started feeling better around 2017, she realised there was “nothing for people who have long-term conditions in relation to creativity”.

The project was launched in 2018 and initially ran sessions face-to-face in community centres.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, they received a £10,000 grant to run sessions online from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund.

Many participants were classed as high-risk and had to shield.

“Your life is like four walls. When they can’t even go out the house once in a while, it’s even worse,” Ally said.

“The sessions are not only important in terms of the activity, it is really important in terms of that connection and mental wellbeing.”

The sessions, ran by different artists and experts, will be running for two phases of six weeks. There will be three sessions a week.

The first phase will begin on Monday 12 April, and will include singing, up-cycled art, and yoga sessions.

On May 17, the second phase will begin, which will focus on more craft-based activity. Sessions will include Craft yourself a Gift, dance, and animation.

Ally said the facilitators all have a “huge amount of empathy” and “recognise people’s limits”.

Ally said: “We have had some amazing feedback, people telling us what it has meant to them.

“It helps people in so many ways and on so many levels.”

She said benefits of the sessions include reduced isolation, a feeling of achievement, and improvement in mental wellbeing.

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To book a place on the sessions, visit

Places are limited and are on a first come first serve basis.