“IT WAS REALLY NICE TO FIND MYSELF AGAIN”: GLASGOW-BASED CARER SARAH’S STORY

Between February and March 2021, we took our creative:voices programme for carers to Scotland for the first time, thanks to our partnership with First Sentier Investors.

The visual arts project, delivered online via Create Live! by our professional artist Rachel McGivern, brought together carers from Care for Carers Edinburgh and Glasgow East End Community Carers over several weeks. It enabled them to meet new people, explore new modes of self-expression and develop creative skills including drawing, print-making and weaving, all from the safety of their own homes. 

Sarah (33) cares for her two sons. She shared her experiences of taking part in this project and how it has enabled her to reconnect with herself.    

Sarah describes what the carers did during the project

“I care for my son. He’s five years old. He has been diagnosed with autism and also has reflux, which he has had since he was a baby. It’s 24-hour care. He’s had sleep issues so you don’t get enough sleep at night-time. He throws up quite a lot during the day, so there’s a lot of caring and cleaning up involved. It’s a very busy role, not only on the emotional side of things but physically as well.

“I had to stop and say ‘I need to do something for myself’. This art workshop was the perfect opportunity. If the workshop wasn’t there I wouldn’t have stopped.”

“We also suspect that my younger son (4) may have ADHD. He’s very, very hyper and has sleep issues as well. It’s a lot of energy in the house. You have to withhold your self-expression just to carry on.

“I had to stop and say ‘I need to do something for myself’. This art workshop was the perfect opportunity. If the workshop wasn’t there I wouldn’t have stopped.”

“I feel really liberated”

Print making - Create visual arts workshop - Glasgow-based carer Sarah's Story - Create

“Most of my artworks from the workshops are unfinished, but I feel really liberated. I used to be an arts student, a long, long time ago, but my health has not been the best, and my caring role kept me away. So it was really nice to come back to this, to reconnect.

“The first day I didn’t realise the Edinburgh Carers Centre were going to be involved as well…Everybody was coming from different backgrounds, and everybody was really friendly.”

“This was a really important workshop for me, to feel confident in myself, to find my identity again. As a carer you lose your identity, you feel as if all you’re doing is looking after somebody else, and that somebody else becomes your number one. This break of two hours away … it was really nice to find myself again.

“The first day I didn’t realise the Edinburgh Carers Centre were going to be involved as well. It was really nice that we were able to cross the cities and meet new people. Everybody was coming from different backgrounds, and everybody was really friendly.

“I learnt that, with visual art, nothing is right and nothing is wrong. Anything is your interpretation. Everybody had different colours, different ideas to display. They were all different, they were all unique. That’s something really interesting in visual art: your perspective, and your creation. You learn all these different mediums to express that, so it wasn’t just sketching. It was also a bit of paint work, print work, weaving using recycled materials.”

Standing Taller

Sarah describes what it feels like to create something new

Create visual arts workshop - Glasgow-based carer Sarah's Story - Create

“This was a really important workshop for me, to feel confident in myself, to find my identity again.”

“It’s difficult to describe the feelings you get [from being creative]… You feel more confident in yourself. You see a different side of yourself: that you can do something. And that something gives you more confidence to stand a little bit taller.

“Since taking part in the workshop, my husband has gone out and bought me a sketchbook. What I’ve learned from the project is that I will definitely carry on. If I get some more time to myself, I wouldn’t mind picking up my sketchbook and sketching up something really simple.

“I’ve already got a project for myself for the summer from the printmaking. I’m going to take some bags and T-shirts and print them up in something boyish so I can make something for my boys. The skills have definitely been handy, and I will definitely take them forward.”

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