'Can You Hear Me' Project Overview

'Can You Hear Me?' is a creative project, funded by the Time to Change Grants Programme and is all about challenging the stigma and discrimination faced by lesbian and bisexual women with a mental illness.

Through encouraging conversations between those who have and haven’t experienced mental health problems, we hope to have challenged the myths and misconceptions that often lead people to misunderstand the lives of lesbian and bisexual women.

In early 2013, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation and local Artist, Charlotte Newson from Creative Curve, came together to design a project which would liberate the voices of women who live with mental health problems.

Click here to see the 'kitchens'

Exploring the idea of where some of our most ‘life changing’ conversations happen, we all agreed that the kitchen table is often the hub of the home; whether you’re putting the world to rights over a cup of tea with your best friend, or coming out to your parents during a family meal.

Music: Emily Maguire - Bird Inside A Cage  Get from iTunes | Amazon

Most of us have access to a kitchen and often, it can reflect our state of mind and how life is treating us at that time.

Each person’s kitchen can be very personal to them, so where better to start a conversation about mental health?

From the start, we were overwhelmed by how many were interested in becoming part of ‘Can You Hear Me?’ and throughout the course of the project, almost 30 individual lesbian and bisexual women have made a contribution.

We’ve met people from all walks of life; and have been astounded by the bravery of those who have agreed to share their stories, not only with the group, but with the public during our exhibition.

See this gallery in full screen mode

Over the course of 20 workshops, the group got stuck into a range of activities, all designed by our Lead Artist Charlotte, to ease each person into expressing themselves creatively.

From printing to building models of the kitchens sets and mood boards, each of the women in the group started to draw upon their experiences of living with a mental health problem and reflected on the stigma and discrimination they had faced.

One of the most important parts of these workshops, was when trust within the group itself started to build and people felt able to share their stories with one another.

Samantha, our Audio Technician, started to work with each of the women to record audio pieces, which would reflect their experiences of mental health and mental illness and would complement the things they had been creating and making.

Each of the audio tracks was a main feature of the kitchen sets during the exhibition; telling the stories behind the furniture, the decoration and most importantly, its creator.

See this gallery in full screen mode

We launched our main 6-day exhibition at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, during Manchester Pride Fringe 2013.

The exhibition was made up of 13 individual kitchens, which visitors could walk around, explore, listen to its audio piece and talk to its creator.

During the exhibition, we welcomed in a staggering 629 visitors. We also recorded that at least 890 conversations took place between people to have and people who don’t have, a mental health problem.

These conversations were designed to break down the stigma that surrounds mental illness; especially for lesbian and bisexual women, who often face ‘double discrimination’ due to their sexual orientation.

By telling their stories, the group helped to shatter assumptions, challenge stereotypes and even help visitors confront some of their own struggles.

We now invite you to explore some of the kitchens from our project. Please click on the name to see photographs of the individual kitchen set and listen to the story, told by the audio. You can also watch a video about the project, by clicking here.

We’d love for you to help us carry on the conversation about mental health, as a way of ending stigma and discrimination. We welcome comments in the space below.

Here’s a selection from the hundreds of comments we received from visitors, during the exhibition:

kitchen click


Lucy Rolfe
Project Manager
Lucy Rolfe,
Wellbeing Manager,
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation

Charlotte Newson
Lead Artist
Charlotte Newson,
Visual Aritst,
Creative Curve

Emma Rothwell
Community Artist
Emma Rothwell

Samantha Yates
Audio Technician
Samantha Yates

Project Support Volunteer

Project Support Volunteer

Project Support Volunteer

“The whole exhibition was very powerful and positive.”

“I liked how it opened up people’s minds and thought processes.”

“Beautiful, individual and real exhibition so much more effective than the government attempts.”


“Seeing it happen to other people the way it happened to me was very powerful, but I was too scared to speak out; excellent group and project.”

“Really powerful, emotive personal stories; very well done, thank you to everyone who shared their lives.”

“Shows the real and complete human face behind a diagnosis; shows positive elements of mental health”

kitchen click

“The honesty about how difficult mental health can be to cope with day to day”

“The way the exhibition captured feelings, awareness and emotions was just brilliant.”

“I thought the artists were very brave to share their experiences, it was enlightening”


  • ayusha

    thumbs up

  • Rachel

    What a brilliant exhibition and way to make people think differently about mental health - it's certainly challenged some of my perceptions and altered the way I will approach mental health in the future