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Tower Hamlets carers find respite in creativity

Adult carers who attend The Carers Centre in Tower Hamlets are taking part in a multi-arts project delivered by award-winning arts charity Create, the UK’s leading charity empowering lives through the creative arts. The workshops, which are led by Create’s professional artists, are giving the participants respite from the pressures of caring, and enabling them to explore their creativity and develop supportive relationships with their peers.In June and July the carers created mixed-media paintings, guided by Create’s professional artist Maru Rojas. The collaborated on a single large-scale painting and created collages based on images of their own homes. During the first stage of the project between April and June, they made a documentary about the history of immigration in east London with Create’s professional filmmaker Rohan Mehra, shooting in locations including Brick Lane and the Docklands, and interviewing local business owners. In September and October the carers will explore photography with Create’s professional photographer Camilla Greenwell, The range of artforms is encouraging the carers to develop a variety of interconnected artistic and technical skills, boosting their self-esteem whilst providing them with a break from their caring responsibilities.

There are around seven million carers in the UK, one in 10 people. Carers UK’s State of Caring 2017 report found that four in 10 (40%) of unpaid carers have not had a break in over a year. Many adult carers feel isolated due to the demanding, time-intensive nature of their responsibilities and 87% say that caring has had a negative effect on their mental health. Create’s creative:release programme gives adult carers an opportunity for positive wellbeing by taking part in expressive creative arts workshops that provide a supportive and inspiring environment in which to develop new skills and interests, confidence, and peer communication and support.

Create’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder, said: “The pressures of caring can prove detrimental to an individual’s health and wellbeing and it’s therefore vital that systems are there to support carers’ wellbeing. We’re delighted that, thanks to funding from Reed Smith, we’re able to work with The Carers Centre in Tower Hamlets to bring three different art forms to adult carers in the borough. creative:release provides a space in which they can take time away from the emotional and practical stresses of caring to learn new skills, forge new relationships and have vital, well deserved ‘me time’.”

Carole Mehigan, Responsible Business Coordinator EMEA at global law firm Reed Smith said: “Reed Smith are delighted to be part of such an invaluable project. Our volunteers enjoy taking part in the interesting and inspiring sessions, giving them the opportunity to meet new people outside their working environment and with the added bonus of releasing their creativity.” 

Neil Hardy, Director at The Carers Centre said: “The Carers Centre is absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to have professional workshops run by Create and Reed Smith for the benefit of carers. Due to financial and time constraints, we hadn’t been able to facilitate workshops adequately, enabling carers to experience participating in a creative arts workshop as a way of having a break from caring for their loved one – and very importantly – to connect with other carers. Then Create came along and answered our prayers. This is, to me, a fantastic opportunity for small not for profit organisations such as ours to work in partnership with very large companies with a global reach – Create is a valuable bridge that links the two.”

creative:release ran weekly between 15 June and 20 July. It previously ran between 27 April and 8 June, and will continue between 14 September and 26 October.

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