art:links is Create’s national project with older people including older carers. The project works to reduce isolation and promote wellbeing through the creative arts, empowering participants to stay active, develop new skills and make friends.
Between May and June 2021, members of Age UK Islington took part in creative writing workshops via Create Live!, our online delivery mechanism. The project was led by our artist and writer Linden McMahon together with Nurturing Talent artist Rhys Cook. It was funded by Masonic Charitable Foundation and The Mercers’ Company.
Corrinne (60+) is an older carer based in Islington who took part. She spoke to us about her caring duties and how being creative has added more colour to her busy life.
I look after my 94-year-old father, who I spend the best part of two days a week with. He’s in quite poor health. He has leukaemia and other serious health issues, so going to support him is quite trying. It can be challenging because he has dementia too and wants to hold on to his independence.
There’s been a lot of stress since my mum died a year and a half ago. I do think I have lost myself somewhere because you just spend so much time thinking and doing for other people. You’re continually catching up on yourself. My health isn’t 100% either. I’m still recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome with depression going on in the background. To have this chance is like a lovely breath and change to the rhythm of life.
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‘Being creative is so refreshing’
I joined a Create project about creative writing, which is based on a mixture of non-fiction and fiction. It’s about creativity, which is basically just a pull-out from yourself, about things that sometimes you don’t even know are there. With the correct tools, you can discover things about yourself that you didn’t imagine were there, and that’s why I have loved it. You can go from the oblivious to the sublime. Really, you can go from real life to sci-fi to the mythical. It encompasses virtually anything. I think creativity is fuelled by so many things like your background, your personality, your life experiences, everything. It’s really therapeutic because you just release something.
“With the correct tools, you can discover things about yourself that you didn’t imagine were there, and that’s why I have loved it.”
It was great working with Linden and Rhys. They are a great team. Linden is very encouraging, very nurturing, makes everything easily accessible, and Rhys just backs them up on that and adds their input as well. The balance was perfect. I never felt threatened, never felt under pressure. It was great.
Working with other older carers was very enriching because we’re all from such different walks of life and going through different stuff, but everyone was good-natured and kind to each other. We critiqued; we didn’t criticise. It’s a lovely group to share with and to brainstorm with, and to share humour with.
“I think it’s important to be creative because it just takes your mind off the monotonous and tedious everyday. It’s so refreshing. It really is good for you to do that”
I think it’s important to be creative because it just takes your mind off the monotonous and tedious everyday. It’s so refreshing. It really is good for you to do that. Even if you only get a chance to walk to the park it’s great because for me, I absolutely love just to observe and take in nature. Otherwise, I think your mind would get overwhelmed with thoughts, stress, problems and just take you away.