Between June and July 2020, Create ran a photography project via Create Live! with adult carers from Harrow and Lewisham as part of creative:voices, a project designed to help adult carers relieve stress and explore their creativity.
Create Live! is Create’s online, interactive project initiative developed to reach participants during the lockdown.
Ajay (60+) cares for a family member with a physical disability and attends Carers Lewisham. He told us about his experiences taking part in the photography workshops:
I’ve been caring for different members of my family for forever, it seems to me. For my mum and dad. My brother Matt who had cancer, and he died a few years ago.
And now Leroy, who has lost his right leg and is in a wheelchair. I’ve been looking after his wellbeing and making sure he’s okay, making sure his personal needs are met. It’s really about paying attention to him all the time, so he’s not being neglected.
Lockdown has been really, really difficult. Because I’ve not been able to go out really. It’s been a lonely experience being alone in the house, stuck with my thoughts a lot of the time and also concerned about my brother.
It has affected my mind as well, I think. Because I’m not sleeping as well as I want to.
I took on the photography project because I wanted a distraction. Something to help me reconnect with me.
It’s important to have those activities which help you to think in a different way and open up new possibilities of thought for you. When your mentality is in a particular cycle and you’re stuck on a treadmill, it is a downwards spiral in the end. I think the photography is helping me with that because it’s giving me something else to focus on. So, it’s helping my mental wellbeing.
For me, the photography workshop was about exploring light and form and shapes and just thinking about composition.
I’ve enjoyed the whole process and I’m excited every time I come on [to the call]. I’m looking forward to it every Friday. I’ve always loved photography, but I’ve never really done it fully. [Since taking part in the workshops] I’ve bought myself a Lumix camera.
I’ve learnt that I can be more imaginative and more creative with myself. The project is helping me to deal with all the stuff I’m dealing with. I’m not just focused on my issues, in terms of my caring role. It’s also given me a bit of space for myself and I’ve learnt that I value that space to just be who I am. Recapture something of who I am, and not just be thinking always about my brother who I care for. It’s hard for me to do that. It has also made me realise that I’m more creative than I had given myself credit for in the past, so that has been a good experience as well.
I feel really positive about my processes. In terms of thinking things through and trying to be original, because I like humour in my photographs. Seeing other people’s work is also encouraging because you’re seeing how different people view the same idea and create something unique to them. It’s fascinating to watch and really inspiring as well.