A story by Crossroads Caring for Carers Cowal & Bute Scio
Our project reached out to unpaid Carers throughout Cowal & Bute. We delivered a wide variety of creative art workshops and crafting sessions which were delivered in the diverse communities which our service covers in order to have an inclusive approach to attendance.
What Creative Carers did
The Creative Carers project came to a close with a wonderful additional extra in the opening of the Creative Carers Exhibition which was hosted in the Lochgoilhead Village Hall and viewed by the local primary school children and teaching staff, members of the community and visitors to the area who left heart felt feedback of the exhibition which gave a valued and emotional insight into the life of an unpaid carer through creative art expression in a variety of formats.
The exhibition has been accepted at the Benmore Gardens exhibition space and will move to Bute in January 2020 showcasing the creative works of the unpaid carers involved in the project which completed in September 2019. We collaborated with local artists and creative people to offer unpaid carers access to facilitated creative arts programme which included working with clay and we welcomed Michaela Goan from Sea Tree who delivered sessions in Dunoon, Bute, and Lochgoilhead.
The participants were shown how to use letter stamps, textiles, natural and found objects to make marks on clay, each person making two tiles-one representing what might be difficult about being a carer and one about what makes it a positive experience. We also facilitated felting workshops with Fiona from Orains in these areas working with locally sourced wool learning the history of the technique, the participants chose their own design and created a felted piece.
Poet Chris Goan ran poetry workshops encouraging carers to consider how writing can help us connect with our feelings and emotions, we read poetry together and some carers went on to write poems of their own! We delivered a lamp making workshop and welcomed The Braw Wee Emporium from Glasgow. We were grateful to receive beautiful fabrics donated from Bute Fabrics to support our wonderful lamp making session.
We welcomed the Woodland Florist who facilitated a floral art design workshop and we also welcomed Nicola from Made with Love Candles, carers were able to try out candle making over and above these sessions we delivered monthly craft sessions in Dunoon and Bute, all carers enjoyed a buffet lunch at each workshop. This amazing project went to plan!
What Crossroads Caring for Carers Cowal & Bute Scio has learned
Project planning and budgeting, we learned that this project had a significant increase in staffing hours to what was originally budgeted for and the main reason for this was the development of the creative carers exhibition which was rolled out on carers week and advertised locally and nationally, this allowed up to uplift the profile of unpaid carers and allowed some insight and recognition into the challenges faced, it also allowed the unpaid carers to showcase the wonderful creative works, we did identify this development to the project early on and through planning and discussion agreed that the value of the exhibition was significant and as such we agreed to go ahead despite additional costs related, we used volunteers and some staff worked unpaid to ensure the exhibition was ready for carers week opening.
We engaged unpaid carers in rural areas by taking out the creative arts project to ensure accessibility to the target group, this involved additional travel costs, planning challenges which we met and delivered a highly successful project.
How Crossroads Caring for Carers Cowal & Bute Scio has benefitted from the funding
The project has lifted the profile of unpaid carers, an article in the Dunoon local paper and also one in the Bute local paper highlighted the project, opening the project on carers week allowed us to engage more people in rural areas including young people from the local school. The exhibition being accepted into the exhibit space at Benmore Botanical Gardens has widened the scope of viewers and deepens the knowledge and understanding of the impact of caring. The exhibition will be moved in January 2020 to the new Bute Carers Centre which has been funded by the community fund and will allows Bute residents and visitors and Carers to view the works again deepening the understanding of what being a carer involves. The project delivery has allowed staff members to develop skills related to project management and effective delivery. An increase in carer identification was accomplished through the advertising of the creative carers project and engagement. Any successful project delivery is positive going forward for future applications.
Provision of positive outcome measured enjoyable creative sessions for unpaid carers in Cowal & Bute measured through direct feedback monitoring/evaluation What will you deliver in order to achieve this outcome. Target 1 creative Sessions and target 2 access to arts otherwise not available.
The Project fully achieved the above outcome through the delivery of creative arts programme through verbal and written feedback unpaid carers identified improved well-being through stress reduction, laughter, the engagement in a creative process, reduced isolation through the company of other carers and meeting new people. Carers Expressed the value of TIME OUT from Caring, they enjoyed the opportunity to try something new, All carers expressed thanks for the buffet provided at workshops.
Carer identified that social connections have been affected in relation to the caring responsibilities they face, they identified that they are unable to meet with friends or go to the social events that they did prior to caring. They expressed that they did not fully understand the benefits of engaging in creative arts such as stress reduction and anxiety management and could not fully understand the connection between the two. Prior to engaging in the project the carer identified an impact on mental well-being scoring 3 with 1 being poor mental well-being and 10 being great and scored a 4 for social connections with 1 being poor and 10 being great. The carer discussed how the transition of a loved one from care at home into long term care had brought about significant changes to circumstances but a different set of challenges such as 5 hours out of carers day to travel and visit loved one 5 times a week, expressed feelings of loss and an empty house- negative thoughts- guilty thoughts and increased anxiety. When asked what the carer hoped to achieve by attending the programme of creative art sessions the personal outcomes were listed as, learning different skills, developing social connections, sharing experiences, not feeling so isolated, support from others, talking more about other things and not just caring. On Completion of the programme the carer expressed a score of 6 for mental well-being a significant improvement from 3 and scored 7 for social connections a significant improvement from 4. The carer expressed they had enjoyed all aspects of each workshop attended although did express some identified anxiety in relation to creative writing, on exploring this further the carer shared that they found it difficult to connect with the emotions they felt and to putting them into words allowed them to understand the impact the caring situation was having. The carer stated that they had made new friends and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere in welcoming surroundings and felt part of something which was a feeling they had not had for sometime. The carer was able to laugh and enjoyed the support they received from facilitators and other participants and expressed that they would not have otherwise had the opportunity to try some of the creative arts sessions and learned new things. The carer expressed that they would like to see a continuation of the sessions as they viewed them to be a vital part of promoting well-being and social connections. The carer expressed that having something to take home that was created by self although not particularly well (opinion of carer! not of others! ) was very rewarding and they felt proud of what they had achieved. This case study gives an insight into the positive impacts on well-being the creative arts programme has made.