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Impact Arts blog

#MakingAMark: art therapist Fiona Rich on her Impact Arts journey

2019 marks Impact Arts' 25th Anniversary! As part of our 25 years of #MakingAMark campaign, we're looking to highlight the difference our work has made to people and communities over the past quarter century.

Fiona Rich has been involved since 2001 - firstly as a volunteer, then in various roles including arts assistant, admin assistant, freelance arts tutor and project co-ordinator. We are now delighted to have Fiona working with us as a freelance art therapist working with children.

Fiona speaks here about her journey with Impact Arts, how it introduced her to community arts and how her time working with us inspired her to work towards becoming a qualified art therapist.

I first heard of Impact Arts in 2001. I had done quite well at school but left at age 17 with no real idea of what to do next. I’d always loved art and ultimately knew I would like to do something involving art, but didn’t quite know what. Art school seemed like a daunting prospect, and I didn’t have a clear idea of what kind of art I’d like to study further. I also had no real concept of what jobs might be out there that would let me use the creative skills I had.

I heard about an expedition to Namibia led by a youth development charity called Raleigh International. If I could raise enough money and successfully complete their training programme, I had the opportunity to go to Namibia for three months and gain a Millennium Award. I had never been abroad and had nothing to lose, so it seemed like a good idea! I went away as one of the youngest members of the expedition and celebrated my 18th birthday with new friends in the middle of the Namibian desert.

When I got home, I had 100 hours further volunteering to do as part of my Millennium Award. A member of the Raleigh team suggested Impact Arts, as they knew I loved art. I soon got involved assisting with the Fab Pad project in Kilmarnock, led by Anne Marie Wilson at the time. Anne Marie was a tough tutor and pushed me further than I knew I was capable of! She challenged me but was very supportive and I have so much to thank her for! I didn’t know community arts was a ‘thing’ until I was already involved in it!


I then started getting other arts assistant opportunities with Impact Arts. I was gaining experience working with all sorts of different groups and traveling to different places all around central Scotland. On one occasion, a tutor I was assisting asked me if I was on placement from the BA Community Arts course at Strathclyde University. I had never heard of it, but that conversation changed my career path too. I applied, was accepted and graduated with First Class Honours in 2008. I undertook various roles over the years I have been working with Impact Arts, including: Arts Assistant, Admin Assistant, freelance Visual Arts tutor and Project Co-ordinator.



I had many challenges and wonderful opportunities and experiences throughout the years, with loads of exciting and memorable projects. Highlights for me were the summer arts camps, the Mainholm sculpture project, the Carluke Creeply Crawlies project and many others! I began to see a deeper need in some of the clients I was working with.

I already knew how powerfully healing the arts could be, so I looked into further study as an Art Therapist. I graduated from MSc Art Psychotherapy at Queen Margaret University in 2017 with Merit and I am now proud to say that I am a freelance Art Therapist on Impact Arts’ Young Gallery project.


Fiona working on the Mainholm sculpture project in Ayrshire in 2008

Without the opportunities and support I received from Impact Arts, I don’t know what I would be doing now! But I can say that I feel very fortunate for the opportunities and support I have received over the years. I feel that Impact Arts has a talent for recognising and nurturing potential in others and I can certainly say that has been the case for me.

The organisation has grown tremendously in that time, from a small core staff team in one tiny room of the Factory building, to the huge, diverse organisation it has become today. There is always something exciting going on and its great to see so many talented people in one place, who share the same vision and passion for inspiring others.


Fiona's social enterprise Spider Arts, based in the south side of Glasgow, delivers community arts education projects.

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The team at Impact Arts work hard to secure over £1.5m of funding per year to provide life changing creative experiences for more than 5000 people.

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