Who We Are
BAB is a partnership of individuals and organisations working together to reduce isolation and loneliness among older people in Bristol.
About the project:
Greater Fishponds Community Champions is a community-led project aimed at supporting older people to feel less socially isolated. The project is supported by The Care Forum and run by volunteers who work closely with local people to start new groups and regular activities.
One of the volunteers, Kim, used to do pop-up style events with the Care Forum Project Coordinator, Claire Littlejohn. Kim wondered if there were other ways of offering her time and skills other than talking to people. Claire then learnt that Kim is a schoolteacher and enjoys watercolour painting in her spare time.
Claire used a Facebook advert to ask if anyone over 50 living in Greater Fishpond would be interested in participating in a six-week’s watercolour class. Within an afternoon spaces had been booked up with 12 signing up for the taster session.
After the taster session, 10 out of the 12 continued to attend the art class. At the beginning, they were not confident about their abilities however; they are now planning to have an exhibition to celebrate their work in November 2019.
Experiences of the participants:
By having a volunteer focused approach to their project the Care Forum have learnt the importance of getting to know their volunteers and utilising their skills, particularly when there is a combination of ‘passion plus skills’.
The Care Forum believe the art class was popular because it was an activity with a social element rather than purely a social occasion. Participants can sometimes struggle with casual conversations, but by offering participants something to do with their hands they have something to focus on and are able to relax more fully.
Another benefit of the art class was that it was marketed as a beginner’s session, which made people less self-conscious and embarrassed. For many of the older participants this was an opportunity to learn something new. As one participant said, “Art is something I have always wanted to do.”
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