Hi I’m Tom, an artist and a creative producer.

I just produced the Cosy Creative programme at Feeding Coventry, a small charity aiming to create a food resilient city where nobody goes hungry, and where people most in need are supported and empowered to be thriving community members. Commissioned by Coventry City of Culture Trust as part of UK City of Culture 2021’s legacy, Cosy Creative is a project devised in response to the cost-of-living crisis where participating organisations like Feeding Coventry offered a warm space, food and creative activities across Coventry between January and February 2023. Amazing!

An opportunity to open and embed creative activities in our newly built café was a dream for me. We committed to offering something for everyone, from warm fresh food and a chat, to decorating our community space with the collective ideas of those who came through the doors.

We curated a programme of activities which could be joined at any level, capturing imaginations while meeting people wherever they are at – from trying something new once to becoming completely immersed across several sessions. From artist residencies with exploratory themes of “Warmth, Space and Belonging” and “Food for the Soul” to African drumming and upcycled fashion workshops. Support workers present at all time allowed a better level of access support and made people feel incredibly welcome. It was so important to get the spirit of the events right: welcoming and inclusive, joyful and relaxed. With food being at the heart of everything we do, our chef Rachael planned delicious and nutritious meals from surplus supplies from our Social Supermarket.

Cosy Creative showed the power of arts to enchant and connect.


Through extensive outreach, we engaged people from other organisations including Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre and the local Romanian church community, offering assistance with transport costs, a translated timetable and an interpreter.

It wasn’t long after the doors first opened we had people chatting, making, writing, sharing food and ideas. We welcomed people who came to the community centre for the first time for emergency food provision, to enjoy a curry and walk away with a bottle filled with lights they’d painted beautifully, and a big smile. There was an incredible sense of festivity. The importance placed on a gentle welcome really worked as people’s uncertainty melted away, and as many came back on a regular basis. This led to much higher participants numbers than we expected, and we had to learn quickly to scale up on our planning and preparations.

By the final Irish dance of our celebration event, we had incredible feedback from people, from some stating how they had connected with their community for the first time in years, to others praising having so many cultures connect and asking us to sustain these activities.

Cosy Creative showed the power of arts to enchant and connect. The power of making and expression for well-being and mental health. The power of food and warmth shared between people. These were moments when the strains and stresses we go through gave way to hope, possibilities and connection; when diverse communities and cultures joined together in a way they hadn’t before as we are still seeing these lasting connections after the programme.

There are points for learning. While our approach to support and access proved hugely successful, how strengthened support could help a broader range of participants? With the community centre’s day-to-day operations happening alongside, how can we use the space best to make people feel comfortable, relaxed and immersed in creative activities? Could we have a quiet space for anyone who needs one, and provide “relaxed” events to support neurodiversity or people who may feel overstimulated? All points for us to consider as we continue into our creative future.

I’d like to share this poem created with the community during poet Emilie Lauren Jones’s workshops on the theme of “Warmth, Space & Belonging”. I don’t know if this was how people see the community centre, or how they feel one should be. Either way this is a poem we should listen to every single time we plan something new. It is a statement of values we should always aspire to. This is what two weeks of warmth, food and creative activities achieved.

Further Information

Coventry City of Culture

Funding secures UK City of Culture legacy for the people in Coventry