Young people’s charity Anstee Bridge to showcase Kingston students’ art

Young people’s charity Anstee Bridge will showcase a new art installation at the end of March, with staff hoping that it will inspire people to find hope after lockdown.

Titled ‘The Lonely Town’, the installation will be held at Teddington School on March 31, and will show artwork by more than 40 students from various secondary schools in Kingston. The students are decorating boxes to depict safe places where, given the chance, they would have spent lockdown.

Katherine Greening, who founded Anstee Bridge in 2008, said: “It’s to show where we were and how, by being together and supporting each other and having hope, we can all come out of it stronger.

“So it’s going to be a very moving, inspirational piece. And it will just be a lovely opportunity to have some hope and look forward to the future in the darkness that we’re in.”

Work in progress – one of the Lonely Town boxes. Photo: Katherine Greening

Anstee Bridge supports Year 10 and Year 11 students in Kingston schools who are experiencing mental health and social difficulties, encouraging them to build confidence and resilience through creative projects.

Students who are struggling at school can also access tutoring and careers mentoring, while assistant Laura Jarvis offers support with college applications.

Jarvis said that the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns negatively affected the resilience of many young people.

She said: “For some children, I think it was a good thing being at home, away from the pressures of life. But the problem is, it’s all still there on the other side.”

The students have also collaborated with community drama company Bounce Theatre to produce a script, which they will perform alongside the installation.

Gloria the zebra, Anstee Bridge’s unofficial mascot. Photo: Emma Curzon

Greening, who explained that creative activities had helped her get through her own difficult childhood, said: “Often [young people] feel, especially when they may be quite low, or there are personal tragedies in their lives or they’re struggling at school, that no-one cares.

“So one of my main aims is to make them feel belonging – that the theatre is theirs, the market square’s theirs, it’s all there for them. And I think the community wants that as well.”

Volunteer Beth Hems-Browne, a final-year criminology and forensic psychology student at Kingston University, said that Anstee Bridge was like a big family.

She said: “When they brought me in Katherine said, ‘I’m your mum, and Laura’s your dad’, because my home [in Norfolk] was really far away.

“So they said, ‘We’ll be your uni parents.’ They’re so nice.”

Past artworks made by Anstee Bridge students. Photo: Emma Curzon

Later this year, Anstee Bridge students will work with a surrealist artist to paint the mental health assessment wards at Kingston Hospital’s A&E department. The results will be unveiled in January 2023.

Greening said: “Hopefully, when someone does go there in a mental health crisis, maybe they’ll find the walls just a bit comforting, knowing that it’s made with our love.”

The Lonely Town Installation will be exhibited on Thursday, March 31 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm at Teddington School in Broom Road, Teddington.

The event is open to the public, but attendees should email Katherine Greening at to RSVP.

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