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In early 2020 during the first lockdown period all of Jeanne's mother-in-law’s activities were stopped in their tracks, including StAn’s cafe. And it fell to Jeanne to think outside the box.

“I had to do a lot with Mum at home to try and still keep her stimulated. And I’m okay with that - it helps that I’m artistic and creative. I was doing a lot of activities and outings with her anyway before lockdown. Just the two of us is not the same as having other people in the room with her but I still was able to provide her with some decent stimulation. Then I thought ‘Mum’s lucky that I can do this with her; a lot of families may not be’.

And you’d start to hear people complaining about not knowing what to do during lockdown. Being bored, being stressed, being negative. So then I thought it’s not because they can’t do it, it’s because they probably don’t know how.

I wanted to provide a positive connection with the people that we already know in our community from the cafe. So I started with that, I wanted to stay connected with them to provide positivity, some inspiration and stimulation. I wanted to leave them something to talk about during the month before the next one. So I thought okay ‘we have a Facebook page, we have a small following but that’s okay it’s a good place to start’.

Out of necessity the virtual cafe was up and running. Thanks to the perseverance of those involved and the public’s increased familiarity with the video conferencing software Zoom. They join us now monthly on that platform which is also hosted live on Facebook and the recording of the video is available to be watched by those unable to attend live.

“So it started off with me trying to connect to my local community, a small group. And now we have people from all over the world!”

So using this experience as a foundation, the idea of creating an art-based workshop for carers materialised. Jeanne was already guiding her mother-in-law through similar activities and wanted to provide a service for others as well.

As a carer Jeanne is very aware of the importance of finding a balance between the role of a carer and personal well-being. During the pandemic it has been a challenge for carers to find respite. The workshop encourages the participants to put their thoughts to paper and then use those words to inspire an artwork that will be completed over the top of their journal. Focusing on the journaling and artwork with others has proven to be a successful respite activity.

If you'd like to try out Art Journaling, I'd really encourage you to come along. 

It's open to all (adults 18yrs+). We meet online every Monday at 11am.  To join, just send an email to Carmen, Activities Co-ordinator: CAlcovedes@ageukislington.org.uk.