Autumn 2019

HAFLS Share

CLP Learner speaks of her new-found ability to 'make things that look quite good'!

Lorraine

Up until about 18 months ago, Lorraine would’ve said that she didn’t have an artistic bone in her body, apart from colouring books, which she has enjoyed since childhood, and still finds relaxing.  However, some of her friends, and friends of friends, were sharing pictures of lovely items on Facebook, which they’d learned how to make on HAFLS-funded courses here at CLP.

Lorraine has multiple health conditions and the pain from sarcoidoisis, in particular, was making it difficult for her to move around and even get out of bed at times.  Doctors at the hospital disagreed with one another about the cause of her arm swelling and frequent flare-ups, and this made her feel insecure about treatment plans and worried she was becoming a hypochondriac.  Stress makes the pain from sarcoidosis worse, and Lorraine was going through a very stressful time indeed.  The only time she left her home was to go Sunday services and a mid-week group at her church.  There were also frequent trips to The Royal Free, Tooting and Northwick Park hospitals, which left Lorraine feeling exhausted.

Nonetheless, she reluctantly came along to St Martin’s, despite being anxious about meeting new people and feeling insignificant and awkward.  She commented how welcoming everybody was and how we made her feel safe in a new environment.  Moreover, we are just a stone’s throw away from where Lorraine lives, and it has become a home-from-home.

To her surprise, and with a little encouragement, Lorraine found that she could do more than colouring-in, and could ‘actually make things that looked quite good!’  One of our art tutors, Paula Watkins, was extremely encouraging and, because of her, Lorraine was able to step out of her comfort zone and prepare herself for learning.  The first course she participated in was art journalling, and she was sure to tell the tutor that she couldn’t actually do anything creative!   However, Paula convinced her that she could and gently coaxed her into drawing a bird.  What helped was that Paula demonstrated a simple way of being able to draw it, showing her step-by-step.  Lorraine didn’t feel at all intimidated, or out of place, as she had thought she would.  She learned a lot of skills on this course including sewing on to fabric and paper; embossing; collage and using teabags to create beautiful images in her journal.

Shortly afterwards, Lorraine joined the Building Better Opportunities project, where she has grown in confidence by being mentored and learning even more skills such as crochet; sashiko embroidery; indigo resist dyeing and felting. Lorraine says that she owes a lot to CLP and the Building Better Opportunities project because taking part in courses; engagement activities and self-organised creative groups has helped her with pain control.  Overall, it has improved her sense of wellbeing and mental health and she has made many new friendships here with crafters sharing similar interests. 

These friendships have extended to participating in external art workshops and going out for coffee and other social occasions.  She also organised a CLP mini bus trip to the Victoria & Albert museum to see the recent Frida Kahlo exhibition.  Lorraine introduced us to Roundabout Transport, who arranged a driver, and it was such a pleasure to make the outing accessible to all of our learners as the minibus is suitable for users of motorised wheelchairs.

Lorraine’s new-found confidence has enabled her to do a little volunteering at CLP, buddying an anxious neighbour to enrol on a HAFLS-funded family art course, and participate in CLP’s Herts Open Studios exhibition, where she is currently displaying her work.  This is a role she plans to develop more fully, as her health and hospital appointments allow.  It has also strengthened bonds with her mother, who is a lifelong crafter.  They have something in common now, and her mum is delighted that Lorraine has lovely things to do and is finding life much more fulfilling.  Lorraine says that even her church friends see her in a completely different light as CLP has brought her out of herself, and she is so full of life and enthusiasm from the joy that being part of our learning community brings.

Elizabeth Borg

CEO, Community Learning Partnership

CLP

To check out the range of courses that CLP offer, visit their Facebook page or give them a call on 0208 4215 544

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