art:links is Create’s creative arts project with vulnerable older people. The project aims to build skills and confidence, giving participants a chance to express themselves, connect with others and enhance their wellbeing.

For six weeks in September and October 2023, members of Chamberlain House Dementia Resource Centre in Kensington and Chelsea engaged in a transformative painting project led by our visual artist Anna Clarke.

We spoke to Jacqueline about her experience on the project.

“I’d always been used to going to clubs, whether it had been a youth club, or the rock n’ roll club. And when they stopped, especially when I got ill, I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. And at that time my hands weren’t as good as they are at the moment.”

As Jacqueline opened up about her journey, she revealed the loneliness that she faced when her family moved away. “I don’t see [my family] like I’d like to because they’ve moved. They’ve got their lives. At least I can get out and I’m not stuck in a bed or anything like that. That would do me in.”

Loneliness is not uncommon among older people in the UK. Age UK reports that over 2 million individuals aged 75 and above in England live alone, and more than a million older people acknowledge experiencing a whole month without engaging in a conversation with a friend, neighbour or family member.

Jacqueline found joy in the art:links project. Her love for drawing and the ability to create something uniquely hers became a source of empowerment.

“I do like my drawing, I’ve always done art. I’ll have to see if any of my kids have got any of the books [of my art]. I enjoyed visual arts because, when you can put something of your own on paper, it’s lovely to know that you’re the one that’s done that.”

Wrapping up her reflections, Jacqueline expressed appreciation for the project, emphasising the simple yet profound joy of being able to step outside and participate in creative endeavours.

“My favourite thing about the project was just coming here, and not being stuck indoors.”

“I can’t push myself around, and my carer is not with me 24/7. So just coming here, and seeing what we can do. And the people as well. It was good. It was enjoyable.”

art:links Kensington and Chelsea is funded by City Bridge Foundation and The Royal Borough of and Chelsea Arts Grants Scheme.

Our work with older people

Artwork from a Create ceramics project with older people in Islington

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