Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Keeping your brain and fingers active.

For the past nine years I've been working at the Autumn Centre, Corby.  Most weeks I turn up with a craft project for the 50+ group.  It's something I twitter regularly about and often post photos if the lovely ladies allow me to do so.  In recent times a lot of them have become very shy and are a bit unsure about showing their faces on the dreaded internet, in which case I have to resort to photos of hands.

The group started as a result of a small batch of funding.  Back in the early days I used to go either on a Wednesday or Thursday.  The groups on both days were entirely different.  Thursdays I'd have a group of six, usually two men and four ladies; we would do a variety of activities including, card making, notebooks and bookmarks.  Wednesday  was a total contrast, basically I would have a line of six ladies who would wait almost expectantly whilst I performed a Create and Craft session.  The interest in actually being a part of the session I would say was zero.  As I demonstrated the weekly activity, I would often turn my attention to latest news highlights and try and encourage the group to have a debate, or I would start a sing song with songs from the war or earlier.  Secretly, I think they wondered how I knew all these songs.

Sadly, most of these earlier participants or non participants are now departed, either through illness, moving into residential care or passed away.

However the 50+ group goes on from strength to strength.  My group size now ranges from 6 up to 14.  Abilities are varied, which often sets me a challenge how I will facilitate each person's access to the crafting session.  The group have physical and mental disabilities; alkzeimas, poor sight, poor hearing to name a few. 

Betty, one of the ladies who no longer attends the group had alkziemas.  Each week she would be encouraged to come to the table to have a go at some crafting.  Whilst she sat with the group she would constantly ask what she needed to do or where she needed to put something and I in turn would repeat instructions or show her repeatedly one stage of something we were making.  At the end of each session she would pick up my sample and walk off with it, convinced that she had made it.  As weeks went on, she started to make a connection with my face and a the pleasant experience, although she never remembered my name. It is important to never presume the capabilities of a person as they may just surprise you.

The group is something I enjoy doing and hope to continue for a little while yet. I have proved that it is sustainable and it is a useful resource for the centre. Each person that comes to the table, whether they craft or not goes away with a smile on their face.

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