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Together with Create, we recently hosted a series of creative workshops in Gillespie Park at the Islington Ecology Centre, specifically for unpaid carers.

Carer Lena

Meeting other carers

The participants on the project came from different backgrounds. We were able to connect with each other and share our experiences as carers. I have a background in Creative Art & Fashion and I was very excited to participate in the course. This was my first programme with Islington Carers Hub and it was an amazing opportunity to meet like-minded carers.

We had opportunities to explore our ideas through different forms of creativity, photography, pottery, marble inking, free-hand drawing, etc. The course leaders were amazing at putting everyone at ease. They were very calm and ensured that everyone could participate, regardless of whether they had tried a particular technique before or not.

Managing the challenges of caring

I have a young family and a mentally ill in-law, whom I look after full-time. I have been a carer for twenty three years. Not knowing anything about how to manage mental illness was really challenging but I have learnt a lot, little-by-little adapting to the role, being patient and calm. I have been able to use my skills and knowledge as an artist to help manage symptoms through different forms of arts and crafts.

I feel that having aspirations is very important at any age. We all have different strengths that shape us to be different in so many ways. I have learned to embrace strengths within people and to find individual qualities that make each and everyone of us unique individuals. As a carer, I have taken the time to understand my mother-in-law, finding her passion and the twinkle in her eyes before the onset of the mental illness sixty years ago. It has taken time, compassion, love and support. I discovered she loves hand embroidery. During the first lockdown this became her saviour, working with colours and patterns. This has improved her mental wellbeing and become an invaluable coping mechanism.

It’s taken confidence in myself to realise my potential as an artist, mother, wife and in my role as a carer. I have found resilience through mental wellbeing, understanding that it’s important to prioritise my own wellbeing and take time out for myself. This might be going for a walk in the morning or doing something creative.

Looking after someone with mental illness becomes very challenging but I like to stay positive. I tend to express my feelings through daily art therapy. This has allowed me to embrace life around me. I like to think that every individual is an artist in their own right.

What am I planning in Carers Week?

Appointments permitting, I’m hoping to attend one of the sessions during the week. It’s a great opportunity to meet other carers!

Carer Claire

Meeting other carers

The Nature Inspired Art Workshops for Carers was the first activity that I’d tried with Islington Carers Hub. The workshop took place in the Islington Ecology Centre in Gillespie Park round the corner from Emirates stadium. I’d never been there, but it was a really nice setting. Everyone was very welcoming. The workshops took place every week for 6 weeks. The sessions were light, varied and interesting. Despite everything going on in my life, I was able to focus in the session and the creativity was really stimulating. It has inspired me to make time to continue doing something creative and I have since re-found my sketchbook!

Managing the challenges of caring

I’ve been a fulltime carer for my mum for the past 7 years. She has acute COPD and can’t walk far. She also can’t see or hear very well. I moved back to London to live with her when she needed extra care. It’s quite tricky at times and draining as she has lots of needs. It’s a bit like being her personal assistant plus all the cooking. I need to drive her around a lot and also take her to regular health appointments.

I don’t get much time to do things myself. I found the workshop really relaxing and it was really nice to talk to other carers. We had a point of reference and something in common, so great to have a chat.

What am I planning in Carers Week?

Given my experience of trying out one of the ICH activities, I’m planning to try one of the Carers Week activities. I thought I’d try the Carers Picnic in Cally Park.