Pakistan Day Arts and Health Project

Funded by: Birmingham City Council

Location: Handsworth

Participants: 8 families 

Project description: Pakistani Arts and Health project was part of a series of arts and health projects using creative and cultural education to share health messaging. It followed the Bangladesh Victory Day project, which worked with members of the Bangladeshi community in Birmingham to create artworks and ultimately a shadow puppet performance with embedded health messages about type 2 diabetes. The Pakistani project continued this work with members of the Pakistani community. Children and parents alike took part in a programme of workshops where they explored health messaging through creating their own artworks. 


  • Improved health literacy. At the start of the project, 88% of questionnaire respondents responded ‘strongly disagree’, ‘disagree’ or ‘neither agree nor disagree’ to the statement, ‘I understand what I can do to reduce my risk of type 2 diabetes’. At the end of the project, 100% of respondents responded with either ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’.
  • 10 community artworks created. These include images of fruit and veg, and a shadow puppet performance with embedded health messages about type 2 diabetes risks and warning signs.
  • Reduced barriers to participation in the arts. Participation in this project was free and measures were taken to make it accessible to everyone, for example providing a creche facility to ensure that parents with caring responsibilities could still take part.
  • Support for children’s development of long-term problem-solving and leadership skills. Participation in structured arts activities develops cognitive abilities such as problem solving and critical thinking, improving children’s long-term employability prospects (Cultural Learning Alliance, 2017).
  • Portfolios for 10 Arts Awards created. Arts Awards pending accreditation. 
  • Positive feedback from participants. 100% of questionnaire respondents said that they would take part in such a project again. They cited fun art activities, educational health messages and the chance to work in a team as their favourite parts of the project.
  • Positive feedback from school staff. A strong relationship has been established with the school where the project took place. 
Participants experimenting with fruit-inspired art

Project aims:

The aim of the project was to explore health issues regarding type 2 diabetes. We engaged the Bangladeshi community specifically for a number of reasons.

  1. Inequality of access to the arts: in 2015/16 59% of Asian people engaged with the arts, compared to 70% of black people and 78% of white people (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
  2. Higher risks for type 2 diabetes: Pakistani people are 6x more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and develop it 10+ years earlier than white Europeans (NCBI)
  3. General health inequality: the Pakistani community has been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 due to underlying health conditions (Office for National Statistics)

We connected with our participants on a cultural level, which helped us to engage them with the health messages and arts activities. Whole families became engaged through a strong community link with a local school.

Participants painting fruit

Project details:

Arts activities such as painting and marbling were used to explore health themes such as risk factors for type 2 diabetes and what healthy eating means. Participants worked together to create a shadow puppet performance with embedded health messages based on information shared in the workshops. They designed and created their own puppets, as well as coming up with an exciting storyline together. 

Feedback from participants

‘[I would take part again] as it was a good experience and learn more art’

‘It was very fun and exciting’

‘We gained more knowledge [and] it was really fun’

‘[I liked] how we were given information during the artwork’

‘At first I felt worried and scared but now I feel comfortable’ 

‘Art makes my mind a bit relaxing’

‘It was great to work as a team’