Every picture speaks a thousand words and this is no exception: Mrs Margot Sawyer, from Herne Bay, was ‘thrilled and gob-smacked” to receive an 8-page, birthday card, lovingly crafted by her former fellow volunteers from the Our Work of Art project. She reached the magic number of 90 at the end of July!
Mrs Sawyer was one of the very first cohort of 40 ‘active ageing’ volunteers trained in 2018 in ‘arts & wellbeing’, devised by the Our Work of Art project team.
Volunteers were then supported in an innovative ceramic mug-painting and creative mural making programme led by Catherine Arnell, Director and lead creative, Espression Arts CIC.
Mrs Sawyer, who cares for her husband at home, helped out at creative group sessions at Age UK Herne Bay & Whitstable, led by Catherine, supporting groups of older, vulnerable people to ‘have a go’ at ceramic painting.
Since the start of Covid-19 pandemic, the Our Work of Art project team made it a priority (through their new ‘Daisy Chain’ work programme) to check-in with all their volunteers, both past and present.
Living in isolation, lack of contact with family and friends over the Covid-19 lockdown, has taken its toll on people’s emotional wellbeing and general self-confidence.
Regularly connecting with the extended Our Work of Art Volunteer peer support network (established in 2018 mainly for those aged 50 and over), has been greatly welcomed, even by volunteers are no longer or actively volunteering.
Daisy Chain has been a great success. Some volunteers in their 80’s, have learnt to Zoom so they can chat in an array of different online ‘Daisy Chain’ weekly, meet-up groups. They share skills and tips on, for example, their current creative crafts, gardening projects, as well as some writing fascinating life story anecdotes in the ‘Magic Moments’ Story Telling zoom group.
Fay Blair, Kent Arts & Wellbeing, supporting Catherine Arnell from Espression Arts CIC said:
“Volunteers were deeply touched to know that we were still thinking of them and were concerned to help and lift their spirits. Catherine has been incredible in giving them that extra IT/computer/smart phone savvy and confidence”.
The project partners – Age UK Canterbury with Age UK Herne Bay & Whitstable – have been advising on the Daisy Chain project protocols for volunteers and staff, to ensure all who work with vulnerable people can do so safely, respecting the complex, demanding social distancing and safeguarding regulations and implications.
When asked what she feels is the secret to her good health and wellbeing, Mrs Sawyer, Said,
“Keep interested in life, in people, and be nosey. Age is just a number. Don’t listen to those who tell you that you can’t do something anymore. Do what you enjoy and keep doing it. And when you can’t, or get fed up, try something new, but keep busy.”
The Our Work of Art team is now training and empowering their volunteers to reconnect and re-engage with past project clients. This will be via different online media, to do creative activity sheets and creative crafts, in their own settings; in care and residential sheltered housing schemes. The focus is on the theme ‘Our Home Is’.
Daisy Chain is funded by Canterbury City Council, Kent Community Foundation and Kent County Council.
For more information:
Fay Blair, Co-Director, Kent Arts & Wellbeing
Mobile: 07786 307 664
Catherine Arnell, Director, Espression Arts CIC
Mobile: 07957 641471
Mrs Margot Sawyer, a former #OurWorkofArt2018 Volunteer from Herne Bay, receiving her wonderful, collectively crafted, 90th Birthday Card.