Meet Cindy, an adult carer from Harrow

creative:voices is Create’s multi-artform programme that enables adult carers to take a creative break from their caring responsibilities, build trusting relationships with their peers and develop communication skills, new interests and confidence.

During September and October 2022, carers from Harrow took part in six, weekly ceramics workshops with our professional artist Amy Leung.

Adult carer Cindy (61) told us about her experiences.

Adult carer Cindy and Create artist Amy Leung working with clay on our creative:voices Harrow ceramics project.

“My two younger children, a 20-year-old and a 15-year-old, are both on the autistic spectrum. My 15-year-old has severe learning development and my older child is autistic but he’s high functioning and savant. Both of them have poor social skills and find it very difficult, they don’t have friends because they’re different.

“My 20-year-old also has Type 1 diabetes and I micro-manage his condition for him. I had to give up work as a school nurse because my son’s school couldn’t cope with it. I don’t get much sleep. I’m up in the middle of the night checking his diabetes because he injects about six or seven times a day. I have to weigh all of his food and calculate his insulin, so it’s pretty exhausting but it’s what I have to do and they’re my kids. I love them and I enjoy doing it, even if I’m tired.

“Projects like this help carers to meet one another because we are isolated in what we do.”

cindy, adult carer

making creativity accessible

“Taking on caring responsibilities has changed my life immensely. We don’t have much money. I’ve gone from a good wage to a carer’s allowance. It’s very hard.

“Projects like this help [carers] to meet one another because we are isolated in what we do. We’re at home a lot of the time, and because we have very little money, some of us can’t go out and socialise. It costs a lot of money to take care of children who have disabilities. Therefore, projects like this one are perfect. If I’d had to pay for it I’d really have thought twice. When I found out the project was free, I was amazed.

“The project was ceramics. We used self-hardening clay, which is brilliant because you can see the results immediately and you get a real sense of achievement. I didn’t have much experience in ceramics before. I did a little bit with my kids when I was younger, but I’ve enjoyed this more because I’m doing it for myself.

emptying our stress buckets

“I’ve enjoyed the whole experience, especially being with other people and doing a project that doesn’t mean we’re talking about our loved ones that we care for all of the time, because that doesn’t define us as people. It’s been good just talking utter rubbish. We talk about art in general, as well.

“We’ve just come into Diwali so we’ve been talking about the celebration and enjoying each other’s differences. We made diva candleholders, and the Hindu women’s painting designs on theirs were beautiful.

“Everyone got on really well and we were all encouraging each other. When you’re a carer you don’t feel you get that recognition, but here we’re all patting each other on the back. The workshop leaders have been great, very patient, very encouraging, making us feel like we’re fantastic at what we’re doing, even though we doubt ourselves. As each week has gone on, we’ve all progressed and got more confidence. You’re so engrossed in what you’re making, you tend not to dwell on the negative aspects of your life as a carer. You’re having fun, you’re in a different place and I think that’s the main objective. The project has taught me that I need to do something at home when I get time so I’m not obsessing about things that are going on in my life, with my kids, and myself and my limitations. Rather, I can do stuff if I just put my mind to it. I think it’s very important to be creative because we are such stress buckets, and I think we just need to empty our mind sometimes. We all have that potential to be creative, everybody does, no matter what it is that you’re creating.”

This project is funded by The Smiles Fund, awarding funds from Walkers and Comic Relief.