Chilli Studios

“Thank you for making me feel a part of the world when I felt like I wasn’t. Thank you for helping me get out of a situation I didn’t know how to get out of. Thank you for being there. Thank you for being here, somewhere I can come when I don’t want to be in the house.” Lucrecia, Member

North East

Charity Location


Grant Size

3 years

Funding Period

Bob Malpiedi Studio Manager

“Our aim is to creatively improve mental health by enabling members - that’s our preferred beneficiary term - to take control and work towards recovery by participating in creative projects, courses and activities across a variety of disciplines including visual arts, music, media and literature." Bob Malpiedi, Studio Manager


Art is used as a tool to provide a pathway of recovery and means of safe communication. By doing this Chilli Studios improve their member's wellbeing and support them to move closer to better opportunities in life like education and employment. This can be a significant challenge for those who have had mental health problems for some time. For them, the prospect of returning to or even entering into formal settings like the job market for the first time can seem overwhelming. 


Chilli Studios make this possible by bridging that gap and supporting their members into more meaningful opportunities. All this is made possible through a wide range of creative expressions from painting, sculpting and digital media and the in-depth holistic intervention that Chilli Studios provide. 


The studio is a lively place with loads of activities going on at any one time. You’ll find people who have never picked up a paintbrush to those who have master level qualifications in art. In this space, everyone is an artist.


Chilli Studios art

Within the colourful walls of the studio, the staff and volunteers make sure that art is accessible to all. They provide diverse creative workshops for their members from printmaking to photography and teach them artistic techniques. The focus is on being adventurous and having the freedom to express themselves.


The result is a vibrant community where strong friendships and a real support network can be found with members warmly greeting and hugging each other as they enter the space.

Chilli Studios fosters this environment by promoting activities outside the studio from visits to galleries and beach days where members make sand pictures that the charity captures with a drone.



Chilli Studios from Lloyds Bank Foundation on Vimeo.

Hear how one vital local charity based in Newcastle upon Tyne and supported by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales makes a real difference to lives with their innovative range of creative based activities to manage mental health.



Support from Lloyds Bank Foundation

Chilli StudiosAbout 70% of Chilli’s income comes from charitable grants. The rest is made up from donations, sales from their café, the sale of artwork and a small amount from activities and training. 10% also comes from a £10 monthly charge for members, although the charity uses its discretion around this fee when individuals are in financial crisis. Members take pride from supporting the charity and others that may need it.


The grant from Lloyds Bank Foundation supports the charity’s core costs which has enabled Chilli Studios to bring in an Arts Coordinator. The Coordinator delivers a creative programme that supports all the members in the studio. This means they’re able to help more members and plan various activities to engage them creatively as well as providing quality and meaning.


As well as this, Chilli Studios has benefitted from Enhance support from Lloyds Bank Foundation including improving HR policy around recruitment as well as overhauling their membership database to help with automation that freed up staff time.


How Chilli Studios Supports its Members

When people come to Chilli Studios the staff try to understand them as individuals, what do they like and dislike, what activities they’re interested in, whether they’re shy or outgoing. There are two main spaces in the studios, one that is lively with music playing and a lot of chatter, the other is quieter with chill out areas. Chilli Studios foster an open and inclusive environment that will accommodate different people with the perfect space for anyone that comes through their doors. Whether they want to focus on their own work, natter away and sing along to music, work on group projects or work away in the digital media or recording studio, Chilli Studios have created the right fit for everyone.

Chilli Studios

Mental health is a complex social issue that affects people in different ways and the team and volunteers at Chilli Studios try to support their members with the problems they face. A large part of their role is helping their members navigate difficult situations, from welfare, debt, housing and even conflicts they may have with neighbours.

One such member is Allan who joined in 2016 and went on to be a volunteer, then a Peer Member and is now a paid Therapeutic Enabler at the charity.

A few years ago, Allan was forced to give up the job he loved as a night shift baker due to a football injury. He also had to cope with the loss of his parents and others close to him due to cancer. Feeling isolated, Allan began to drink heavily and struggle with daily life. He was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Allan also began to notice that at times, he completely disconnected from his surroundings, and was self-harming without awareness. This led to a diagnosis of Dissociative Disorder.

Chilli StudiosNorth East Council on Addictions (NECA) provided Allan with counselling for his drinking and he also attended classes at Crisis Skylight, where he made friends and started turning his life around. Shortly after this, he joined Chilli Studios.

During this period, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stopped Allan’s Disability Living Allowance and rejected his application for Personal Independence Payments (PIP). For eight months he fought with the DWP to reconsider, and describes this period as needing to choose between gas, electric or food.

He continues: “I was struggling badly; my depression and anxiety were through the roof. I was in despair. I felt angry and also ashamed by the way I was living. I cried almost every day. I was losing pride, not looking after myself and I thought there was only one way out.”


Chilli Studios"Lately, I’ve been given some amazing opportunities, starting with being part of a choir that sang on a Christmas charity single with Ralph McTell and Annie Lennox. I’ve also completed my Mental Health First Aid and leadership development courses, as well as starting to volunteer for Chilli Studios. The best thing about volunteering is I get to bake bread again in the café." Allan, Therapeutic Enabler

"My next goal is paid work in peer support, my new passion is helping people because without people helping me, I couldn’t be where I am today."

A lot of the time I thought I couldn’t do art, but it’s proven otherwise, I love art as it happens. I’ve been here ever since; I’ve hardly missed a day. The best thing about Chilli Studios is that they just let you get on with it, but the staff are very helpful, if you want anything or if you want guidance.

Michael, member

"Mental health is very broad...

“... and within that, there can be very difficult circumstances that you have to deal with both in terms of the emotions that individuals might be going through any difficulties they may have externally and trying support them with that. To counteract that we’ve brought in a role specifically about supporting people who are in crisis.”

Bob Malpiedi, Studio Manager

Our impact on mental health in 2019


new grants addressing mental health issues


people with mental ill health supported through our funded charities


total invested in small and local charities addressing mental ill health

Discover other charities we partner with

We’re more than just a funder

We work in partnership with small and local charities. We are committed to funding them for longer, providing development support and influencing policy. Through this partnership, we help charities help more people dealing with complex social issues and help charities to be stronger and improve wider policy and practice.

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