New skills and friends for the Autumn


New skills and friends for the Autumn: Volunteer opportunity for over 50’s for creative wellbeing



The ‘Our Work of Art’ project work to date has been impressive and goes from strength to strength. Another round of exciting ‘creative/arts’ volunteer training (for the over 50’s) has been secured to run this October/ November and local people are now invited to sign up over the coming weeks. The first session is scheduled for Wednesday 23rd October (4-7pm).

Valerie and Jo

The 2018 ‘Our Work of Art’ project volunteers were thrilled to be shortlisted as one of thirty-one UK projects for ‘Epic AWARDS’ set up by Voluntary Arts, an organisation that  promotes participation in creative cultural activities. Our Work of Art is a local volunteer led project for the ‘active ageing’ (over 50’s) focused in and around Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable.


The project delivery team, supporting and developing the volunteers includes Espression Arts CIC with Kent Arts and Wellbeing who continue to drive the project forward.


Rosie, from Whitstable, one of the 2018 local project volunteers (in her mid 50’s) who did the  ‘Arts and Wellbeing’ training and then creative volunteering, said:

“Working with the participants has definitely plugged a gap in my life as without parents or grandparents it has given me the opportunity to meet the most wonderful people.  I feel blessed that they trusted me enough to share their life stories with me. To see them feel valued was worthwhile and to unleash long forgotten skills, or at least see them have fun, having a go, is a joy.  As you get older it is harder to meet people with similar interests. This project has delivered them in bucket loads!


In comparison to my experiences volunteering for other organisations Our Work of Art far outweighed my expectations: I feel appreciated, competent, trained and was supported throughout.


The joy the project brought to the participants was tremendous. Seeing them gain in confidence, make new friends, and produce fantastic art work, was rewarding. No matter how “rubbish” people felt they were initially at doing arts & crafts, they felt proud of their efforts, ‘having a go’ and pleased with the results.”


The free, four-part programme (Wednesday evenings 4-7pm) will run October/November 2019. It is designed to give local people, aged 50 plus, a chance to see if they would like to go onto to do some volunteering, supporting older frailer people in creative group activities.  


Trained volunteers can then do tasks to suit them over a shorter period of a just a few months, or longer. Some commit to help over a series of just six sessions, or longer. Others may prefer to help with the tea-making, hosting, or photography and promotional, social media, or admin paper work. No previous arts experience is needed to be part of this dynamic and friendly team.


Rosie added, “The creative volunteer network is also about making friends, sharing skills and insights in a fun and productive way”.  Volunteers will be trained and then be supported to in help older, frailer people, at the Age UK Centres in both Canterbury and Herne Bay, and other community centres in ceramic mug painting and other creative work. The mural making; the results for 2018-2019 which were put on public display were fantastic and inspiring.


Our Work of Art is a partnership championed by Age UK Canterbury with Age UK Herne Bay and Whitstable. It is funded by Canterbury City Council’s Strategic Grant Award and from the National Lottery Community Fund’s – Awards for All.


Dr Neil Brown, Chief Officer, Age UK Canterbury, said:

“We are delighted to be working again with Espression Arts CIC and Kent Arts & Wellbeing with the fantastic team of creative volunteers. Last year they dedicated 1,700 hours and 218 people were involved. 70 creative workshops resulted in 8 stunning murals made up of individually hand-painted tiles by members at our day centres and the dementia support (COGS) groups. “


For more details about the free Our Work of Art October volunteer creative training and associated volunteering opportunities please  contact Fay Blair Mobile: 07786 307 664 or Catherine Arnell  Espression Arts, 29-30 Palace Street, Canterbury CT1 2DZ.

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