Marylyn  Cropley Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Marylyn Cropley

Retired Mental Health Social Worker and well-being practitioner.

Marylyn Cropley is a mental health social worker (retired), well-being practitioner, author, artist and musician. She has developed community-based arts and well-being projects via her social enterprise FreeplayTM. The Art Activity Manual, written and illustrated by Marylyn, uses her experiences running creative, therapeutic sessions for people with learning difficulties and mental health issues. Her latest book, Planet Earth Needs Our Help, is an introduction to climate change for children.


Creativity, art and music have been strong, sustainable, healing factors in the many difficult losses and changes that I have experienced, both professionally and as a parent and carer.  This creative approach has informed my work as a well-being practitioner, total communication coordinator and Social Worker, in various learning disability/mental health services in Dorset.

It has been a privilege to be able to share my experience and knowledge of facilitating creative groups to achieve therapeutic outcomes. These experiences led me to write and illustrate The Art Activity Manual, originally published by Speechmark in 2004 (now published by Routledge). The Art Activity Manual offers art based activities which benefit groups or individuals, adults or children, and suits a diverse range of abilities and needs.

In October 2015, I participated in an art exhibition around the theme of Climate Change, timed to coincide with the Paris summit. My chosen approach was to write and illustrate a children’s book - "Planet Earth Needs Our Help". This proved popular with visitors to the gallery and became my second, self-published book. The target audiences for “Planet Earth Needs Our Help” are children (aged 4-11), and adults who care for children, (parents, grandparents and teachers). It has also proven useful to adults who find the whole issue around Climate Change very complicated and don’t know where to begin.
“Planet Earth Needs Our Help” serves as a springboard for teachers and adults to help children to develop learning, reading, writing, imagination, language and communication skills, in a fun, creative way. I have produced additional notes offering suggestions for further exploration and discovery. These notes aim to motivate and inspire readers to seek new information, ideas and to take action, around this important but complicated topic - the well-being of our Planet and the issues of Climate Change. The notes also link to the National Curriculum (mainly Key Stage1).

I enjoy networking, bringing people together, to share creativity, imagination, ideas, visions, hopes and dreams using experiential learning and evidence based practice.
This inspired me to found Freeplay, a not-for-profit, social enterprise, ( Freeplay’s vision statement is to “foster individual well-being, through creative community experiences.” Freeplay projects bring together local artists, musicians and the community, in public spaces, to share live art and music activities, creating a sense of well-being and “belonging”.
Realising the therapeutic value of Freeplay, I designed and delivered a community-based well-being project for carers, using an art based, creative CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) approach to caring for self, whilst caring for others. This will be the basis of my third book!

My partner, family, friends, and a creative community of artists and musicians keep me young in mind, body and spirit. I frequently exhibit in local art exhibitions, play with other musicians, and have produced a CD of self-penned songs called “Coastlines Calling”. Now “unemployed”, I still flourish as an OAP (Overly Active Pensioner!) continuing my personal development and a lifestyle that is rich with memories, reflections and new experiences.


    Cert.Ed (1973), DipSw (1994), PWP (2011), B.Ed (2017)

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Teaching- Primary Education and Adult Learning - Art and Pottery.
    Group facilitator, community worker and Social Worker- Learning Disability & Mental Health Services.
    Total Communication Co-ordinator & Trainer.
    Social Entrepreneur, well being practitioner and community projects.
    Artist and member of The Poole and East Dorset Art Society.
    Author "Art Activity Manual" and "Planet Earth Needs Our Help" (group-work, art, environmental, educational research)

Personal Interests

    Spending quality time with partner, family and friends.
    Enjoy art and craft based activities, creative writing, music, singing/song-writing/playing guitar, dancing, reading, walking, gardening, cooking, my home, travel, photography, films, live jazz, folk events, music festivals, meditation and relaxation.



Featured Title
 Featured Title - The Art Activity Manual - 1st Edition book cover