A half-day seminar was recently held at the Ministry of Health, the Elderly and Community Care, Valletta, with the aim of bringing stakeholders together to discuss an action plan for the introduction of regular artistic and creative volunteering activities in healthcare settings in Malta.

This event was part of the Raising Spirits project, which aims to develop and increase volunteering in healthcare, particularly through an artistic and creative approach to enhance patient recovery and community wellbeing.

It is a flagship project approved under the call for proposals in the framework of the European Year of Volunteering 2011.

Health Minister Joe Cassar opened the seminar with an address, highlighting his sup-port of this initiative which, he stressed, is sure to have many positive effects on various stakeholders

Project partners include SOS Malta as lead partner, Mater Dei Hospital, Voices Foundation and the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts.

Participants included officials from the health and arts sectors as well as representatives from health NGOs, the Univer-sity of Malta and artists/arts companies.

A pilot project held at Mater Dei Hospital over the last few months and led by a group of volunteers who formed a volunteer committee as part of this project was presented to the audience.

This pilot also included a brief qualitative research, whereby patients, their relatives as well as staff and hospital management were interviewed. The results of this study were also presented during the event.

The general public, especially artists and people working in healthcare, are being asked to contribute to this draft three-year action plan by accessing www.raising-spirits.com and giving their suggestions/ideas. Closing date is February 10.