Staying Out is ARC’s flagship free and referral-only creative social prescribing programme for older people aged 65+. Members might identify as socially isolated, have poor mental or physical health, experience dementia, or be recently discharged from hospital.

Staying Out provides opportunities to meet new people and try a range of creative activities in a friendly and welcoming space; from arts and crafts to planning events, attending shows and influencing professional performances.

We celebrate and champion the cultural contribution of older people and the value of their skills and imagination, through innovative and impactful social and creative activity. As well as trying everything from teddy bear making and song writing to fused glass design and floristry, members have created and recorded work which featured in professional performances at Stockton International Riverside Festival 2022. They’ve even had their art work featured in an exhibition in New York!

Sessions take place on Wednesdays from 10am – 3pm, and are led by professional artists with support from ARC staff, plus a trained peer volunteer (who has lived experience as a former group member)! Free tea, coffee and biscuits are provided, and members can bring a packed lunch or buy sandwiches from a range on offer at ARC’s café bar, No. 60.

Image of a wide range of artwork on display on the railings outside Flushing Town Hall in New York.

To be referred to join Staying Out, potential participants need to:

  • Be 65+ years old and live in Stockton on Tees
  • Feel at risk of social isolation or loneliness
  • Be able to get to / from ARC independently
  • Be able to mobilise on their own *
  • Have no personal care requirements *

*Where participants need support with mobilising or personal care, they must bring a carer with them.


We have a formal referral process to complete before we can confirm a potential start date for new referrals. This is so we can find out more about potential participants, ensure we meet our Safeguarding / Health and Safety Policies, put access requirements in place, plan creative resources, and make sure capacity is available for a new member.

Participants can be referred to take part by GP’s, social prescribing link workers, healthcare professionals, social workers, VCSE organisation staff, community group representatives, and carers. We also consider self-referrals and referrals from family members where a potential participant has limited contact with the avenues above.

Image at an exhibition showing a range of artwork created at Staying Out. The gallery space has white walls and incudes a range of artwork including collage, writing, and textiles. In front of the exhibition three women, two sitting, and one standing, are engaged in a conversation together.

Each participant can be referred for a creative social prescription of six free sessions either in-person at ARC or remotely (by post and phone). Attendance is led by individual members’ needs in terms of timings and frequency. During this time we work with members to identify further activities they may like to progress on to, and support them in making plans to achieve these goals.

If members need a little more time to build confidence and consider their options, they can request a ‘repeat prescription’ of social and creative activity. This allows them to attend up to six more Staying Out sessions at the cost of £3 each. Carers always attend for free.

For more details about Staying Out or to make a referral, please contact ARC’s Creative Learning Producer, Sonya Curle, by emailing [email protected] or call 01642 434174.


Click here to download an information flyer for participants

Click here to download a one page overview for people making a referral

Click here to download a referral form