Make your health the priority this November with Leeds Libraries Wellbeing Festival

17 October 2022

Acclaimed writer and rapper Testament will be heading up next month’s Sound Mind festival in Leeds, which aims to highlight the benefits that connection, music and movement can have for health and wellbeing.

Hosted by Leeds Libraries, Sound Mind begins on 5 November at Leeds Central Library and all its events are either free or low cost.

The programme includes free taster sessions featuring singing, life-drawing, playing a musical instrument, creative writing and yoga.

Testament’s session on 12 November is an affordable pay as you feel. The award-winning hip-hop MC and playwright will present an evening inspired by the work of the late Leeds writer and musician Francis Steel.

Poets, singers and musicians will use Francis’ work to explore themes of mental health and mindfulness through live spoken word, song, scratch deejaying, beatboxing, art and discussion.

Testament, who is based in West Yorkshire, said:

As someone who was affected by mental health issues, Francis’ work celebrates the power of art and community as an outlet, and a way of navigating the world. Together, some of the artists who collaborated and knew him will present his work and the legacy of his art.  Expect a colourful array of different artists and art forms to uplift and inspire!

As part of the event there will also be a discussion on art, mental health and mindfulness led by award winning theatre director Tom Malcolm Wright.

Other highlights of Sound Mind include:

  • Sound Rhythms, which launches the festival at Leeds Central Library on 5 November. Join Leeds Libraries for a family-friendly drumming drop-in session. Drumming is easy, fun and good for the soul. Everyone of any ability is welcome to this free inclusive event
  • Sound it out. In conversation with men’s suicide prevention charity Andy’s Man Club, hear alternative rapper, songwriter and music producer Wilko Wilkes discuss how he has used music as a tool to support mental health recovery. Wilko will also present special live music performances celebrating the positive impact that music can have. On 17 November at Leeds Central Library
  • Join writers Phil Cavell and Nick Swettenham for Midlife Fitness; a conversation about how a healthy diet and work/life balance can nurture a healthy mind, and how midlife can bring its own challenges, both physical and mental. On 10 November at Leeds Central Library
  • And not forgetting the chance to hear Leeds Big Project Band performing live in the library on 19 November.
    To find out more about Sound Mind and book tickets, go to

According to national charity Mind, one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England, but that practicing mindfulness and doing physical activity can improve mental health for some.

One of the main focuses of the festival is men’s health, as men sometimes find it hard to ask for help. As November is also Men’s Mental Health Month, Sound Mind is a great opportunity for men in Leeds to find out more about how they can improve and maintain their mental wellbeing. Advice is also available through

Andrea Ellison, chief librarian at Leeds City Council, said:

Sound Mind is a fantastic opportunity for people across Leeds to explore how we can all nurture our mental health and wellbeing, and also to find out what other support our libraries can offer. All the Sound Mind events are either low cost, or completely free, so will be affordable to anyone and everyone.


Councillor Fiona Venner, Leeds City Council executive member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships, said:

With the ongoing cost of living crisis, many people in Leeds are anxious about what the coming months will bring. Our Leeds Libraries are great places to get help and support, not just around mental health, but also with other issues that are concerning people, such as financial pressures.

Leeds City Council has also recently launched a new webpage about the cost of living crisis, which brings together all the support and services available in the city that can help people with through this difficult time.

The Leeds City Council cost of living webpage can be found at

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