Creative café boosts wellbeing and teaches new skills

May 25, 2016

An Isle of Wight café that encourages older people to keep active and engaged through arts-based activities was the beneficiary of a Care UK wellbeing foundation grant in June 2015.

The Creative Café, run by Isle of Wight charity Independent Arts, provides a weekly opportunity for people to meet and try something new in workshops delivered by skilled practitioners who have the support of regular volunteers.

Participants learning how to use tablets.

Participants learning how to use tablets.

After carrying out local research, the charity found that as people grow older they have reduced opportunities to socialise and participate in arts and crafts events.

Project manager Jessica Paine explained: “With the support of the wellbeing foundation grant we’ve been able to offer a wide variety of activities for participants and the group as a whole continues to thrive and grow in numbers. We currently have 25 registered participants although attendance numbers vary according to the published activity and the weather!”

Photography skills are also taught by the group's volunteers.

Photography skills are also taught by the group’s volunteers.

The most popular sessions include arts and crafts, New Age Kurling and lessons on using tablets. Feedback from participants includes:

  • “Last week’s arts and crafts session was so inspiring that when I arrived home I got all my paints out and worked on an autumn scene on canvas. It’s the first time I’ve wanted to paint since my husband passed away two years ago.”
  • “The Kurling session was fantastic! It’s given me my mojo back… Just because we’re old it doesn’t mean we don’t have competitive spirit!”

As confidence has grown there was a desire for participants to begin leading sessions and, in November 2015, the team hosted its first peer-led session, where a participant delivered their very own session on the art of sugar craft.

Participants can now lead a session.

Participants can now lead a session.

And that isn’t the only development. With the group’s increasing interest in all things digital, the Creative Café will soon have its own online blog, which will contain content that’s shaped and created by the participants. A sense of quality assurance will promote discussion with regards to what content is uploaded, all of which can be reviewed at each subsequent Creative Café session.

Rosemary Harvey, assistant company secretary at Care UK and wellbeing foundation board member, said: “The board were delighted to hear how successful the café has become. The grant has enabled these poplar sessions to continue on through the winter period, when people can become isolated, and I think it’s fabulous that so many older people can come together, find friendship, learn new skills and have fun with hobbies that they have previously enjoyed.”