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A Kick Start for Aspiring Vincent Van Gogh's

Essex Freemason uses art and creativity to help people of all ages with learning disabilities.


Art as a form of therapy has been proven to have an incredible impact on people struggling with mental health problems and learning difficulties.

A glass painter at Footsteps giving Get Started Art the thumbs up!
A glass painter at Footsteps giving Get Started Art the thumbs up!

Get Started Art is a new Community Interest Company, abbreviated as CIC but pronounced ‘kick'. It was set up by Essex Freemason, Dave Barton, to help groups of aspiring artists that need help the most. The new community interest company provides much needed materials free of charge to charities and local community groups helping disadvantaged children, vulnerable adults, and those of all ages with learning difficulties to discover their inner van Gogh and improve their health and wellbeing. 

Help Where It's Needed

Delivering art materials to Changing Pathways – Clive Cheeseman of Henry de Gray Lodge, Siobhan of Changing Pathways and Chris Bushell of Thurrock Lodge
Delivering art materials to Changing Pathways.

Dave said;

'Art and creation can help all those groups, so we give them the resources they need but the main thing is we give help where it is needed the most.'

Several groups in the Basildon and Thurrock areas of Essex are already benefitting from the support of Get Started CIC including Footsteps - a youth group for children and young adults with special needs; Bennett Lodge – a residential care home for people suffering with physical and mental frailties such as dementia; Carolyne House – a residential home providing nursing and dementia care; NHS - Mid and South Essex Hospitals Charity; the children at Changing Pathways – a local domestic abuse agency with a Refuge Service in South and West Essex; and SNAP – a charity for children with additional or special needs.

Gaining Confidence

A delivery of art materials to Carolyne House - Chris Bushell of Thurrock Lodge, Avigail Paguibitan, Carolyne House Manager and Dave Barton of Get Started Art
A delivery of art materials to Carolyne House

Dave is a member of Henry de Gray Lodge which meets at the Cross Keys Masonic Centre in River View, Grays on five Saturdays a year.  After his initiation four years ago, Dave discovered Freemasonry. Inspired by it's ideals of integrity, friendship, respect and charity he joined in with the many charitable and social events organised by his own Lodge and other lodges at the Centre. He said;

'It was the work I’ve done for the Masons that finally gave me the confidence to go for it and it’s the support of the Masons that has helped Get Started Art CIC, get off to such a good start with donations from four Lodges and Essex Cornerstone, a club for young and new Freemasons in Essex up to the age of 40, are also now considering helping with funding.'

As all the money raised goes directly to local causes that need the resources the most, some of Dave’s fellow Freemasons have gladly joined in to help with fundraising and distribution.  Dave said;

'Thanks to the local Freemasons we have shown what can be done. It has really snowballed and although the support is fantastic, as a result, of the positive impact it is having on the vulnerable and disadvantaged, the requests for more resources are increasing.  As Vincent van Gogh said, ‘There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people’ so, giving further support will be greatly appreciated.'

More information about all the work being done and photos of the help given to the local charities and community groups can be found here.


Written by Tony Hales

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