A VIRTUAL art gallery has been launched by a district NHS care trust.

Behind the initiative is Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, which says the aim of the project is to help spotlight the benefits of art in fostering good mental health.

The gallery features artwork created by patients in the trust's inpatient units at the Airedale Centre for Mental Health – located in the grounds of Airedale Hospital, Steeton – and Lynfield Mount Hospital in Bradford, as well as staff.

The work – which has been praised as "innovative and thought-provoking" – has been framed and is being exhibited in a new gallery space created at the Four Seasons Cafe at Lynfield Mount, but the area is only open to staff, patients and their families and carers.

Now the virtual gallery – which can be viewed at bdct.nhs.uk/get-involved/grow-exhibition – opens up the display to a wider audience, says the trust.

A staff spokesperson said: "It was wonderful to see the patients engage in an amazing project, learning new skills and enjoying the outdoors during 'photo walks'. It showed patients that they could achieve something they didn’t think possible and it inspired more engagement in activities."

The gallery was the idea of the trust's therapeutic volunteer co-ordinator, Rachel Jones, and Lorna Dunsire – lead occupational therapist in acute mental health services.

Rachel said: "The project has been a huge team effort – including our exhibition curator volunteers, the occupational therapy team, and staff from the wards and estates.

"The number of items and quality of artwork has been so impressive – we currently have around 30 pieces on display. We hope that this helps to open up the conversation about mental health and the therapeutic benefits of art.

"The theme for the artwork was Grow, and each artist interpreted it in different ways.

"For some it was about the natural world, and for others it was about personal growth – with many using images of nature to express positive change and hope."

The creation of the gallery at the cafe was funded by the trust’s Better Lives Charity.

Better Lives aims to enhance the care provided by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust through charitable activity – by improving the physical and mental wellbeing of staff, patients, service users and their families.

For further information about the work of the charity and ways to support it, go to bdct.nhs.uk/better-lives-charity/charity.