Easter art event helps tackle isolation for over-65s

March 2024

Older people in Lancing took part in an Easter art workshop this week, where they made greeting cards and learned to paint flowers. Many of those who attended said the event was ‘a nice way to escape’. By Heather Joyner

People who get support with us in Adur enjoyed a two-hour arts and crafts session this week with local artist Jo Dowers, who was previously an Artist in Residence at Denman Gardens and Fontwell. They made Easter-themed greeting cards, complete with handmade egg patterns.

The event was organised by our Communities in Mind over-65s service and it was held at the Royal Voluntary Service’s Chesham House in Lancing. Those who attended the session and attend other activities run by Communities in Mind said that it helped them with feelings of isolation.

Bernie, who gets support with Communities in Mind, said: “I’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and my wife suffers from dementia, and I have found that a lot of the time I just can’t cope. Communities in Mind has been marvellous – I can offload when I need to and the staff are kind and helpful.

“We watch film archives from the 50s and 60s, and it’s all things we remember. You feel part of a family; it doesn’t matter what mess you make with more creative things like this, as it’s part of the fun. A lot of people our age are lonely – it’s about getting over that threshold and looking for support, and it’s helped such a lot.”

Reducing loneliness and isolation

The Communities in Mind service supports over-65s in Bognor, Chichester, Lancing, Southwick and surrounding areas, who may be feeling low, depressed , anxious or experiencing isolation. Alongside one-off events such as this arts session, the service runs monthly meet-ups and well-being walks, and offers one-to-one support for older service users who may feel lonely or isolated.

Carole who came along to the event said: “So much of what goes on these days happens online. My son died four years ago, followed by my sister, and it's been tough. Getting out lifts you up. If I don’t go out somewhere every day, I get low.

“I think places forget that older people aren’t as computer-literate – there are millions of people who don’t use technology, and we feel left behind. I come to the activities at Chesham House once or twice a month, and it’s a nice way to escape, even just to come out for a coffee. If there are more craft events in the future, I’d love to get more involved.”

The therapeutic power of art

Everyone who came to the event enjoyed refreshments and biscuits as they painted their eggs, with service users encouraged to feel confident in their designs by volunteers.

When asked about how art can help tackle feelings of loneliness, artist Jo Dowers said: “These creative events provide a relaxed and friendly environment. It’s wonderful that people are able to feel safe enough to spark conversations and ideas as they paint; it’s an organic way of talking about your feelings. It can be daunting if you’ve never painted before, but it’s about enjoying the process.”

Jo Bulis, service manager for Communities in Mind, said: “People might want to go and do an activity, but they don’t know where to go, or have no one to go with. Coming to our events means that people over-65 can learn about support and things that are going on, and we keep in touch with them too; sometimes when they get a birthday card from us, it might be the only card they get.

“We couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful volunteers, who encourage service users to get involved and enjoy themselves. The first thing people will usually think when we run something like an art event is, ‘I can’t do this’; but actually, we encourage them and show them that they can.”

Find out more about Communities in Mind or call our service manager Jo on 07495 077341.