Charlotte Craig and Suzanne Gibson tell us about a café in Glasgow for people in later life.
Charlotte on the left
Charlotte says: I started working at the Craft Café just over four years ago, as the Artist in Residence. The Craft Café is an art group for people over the age of sixty, based in Govan, Glasgow, and run by the charity Impact Arts. The intention of the project is to change stereotypes of aging and help improve quality of life through creativity.
My creative practice is mainly based in fine art photography, having studied a BA in fine art, and a Masters in photography and design. Throughout my life I have pursued a career in the arts, which at times has been very challenging, and I have experienced a broad spectrum of working environments. I was drawn to working in the social and educational sectors, as I have been determined to work in a role that works towards building a more positive society, and I enjoy working with people. One of my jobs was as a Carer and Befriender for older people; I worked in care homes, sheltered housing and individuals homes. Some care homes in particular could be quite discouraging, as residents where often inactive and unstimulated, and staff and family often stretched for time. Coming from a creative background I saw there was so much scope to make people’s lives more colourful and active through creativity.
When I started working at the Craft Café Govan I was thrilled, it was exactly what I hoped for. Unlike a care home setting, the members attend independently, mostly from the local community. Some are just retired, while others are into their nineties. The Craft Café provides older people with a space to make art, where they have autonomy and creative expression. Many of these individuals are highly skilled, having worked in roles such as Joinery and as Sewing Machinists, and now apply these skills to making art, sharing their skills and knowledge with others. There is also a great mix of interests and abilities, some enjoyed drawing when they were a child, and are just returning to it now, others come as a pass-time, to get out of the house and be around people, in time, they will often find something creative they enjoy and a good at. Members in the group will paint, knit, sew, stitch, draw, print and more, I run a current project which can range from digital photography to patch-work quilting, the members choosing whether to take part. The diversity in the activities and peoples work keeps it fresh, vibrant and spurs new interests. The real key to the Craft Café however is the people. Many of them face different challenges that growing older bring to varying degrees, people face issues such as poor health, isolation and bereavement. However, the members are keen to keep themselves both mentally and physically active, and they realise the positive effects of companionship and peer support. The Craft Café has essentially become a thriving community for older people, where their share in skills, company and creativity.
The impact it has on quality of life is not only reflected on the members, but my life too. I feel grateful to be in such a position, where I have found something that ties into my core values, and plays on my creative strengths. I feel stimulated by the work I do and I also feel inspired by the members, I hope as I grow older I am able to show their strength and kindness through life’s challenges.
To learn more about the Craft Café Govan please visit our website: https://www.impactarts.co.uk/content/our-work-older-people/ Or contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzanne says: Having been in full time employment most of my life, on retirement I suddenly found
that I had TIME. Although I was still leading an active life with hillwalking and cycling, but
not wanting to bog myself down in the garden, I began to look for something a bit more
sedentary but mind engaging ‘for my old age’! I had always been a hands-on person, tried and enjoyed painting and decorating, and so some kind of creativity seemed like a good idea. At that time I had moved house and on looking around I was fortunate to find the Craft Cafe in my new locality and I soon became a member. Nine years later I am still crafting and creating!
In my working life there had always been deadlines to be met and also in my home life where
there was always the usual family chaos of coping with the daily routines plus two
children who often had to be chauffeured around to their different activities.
Now, after retirement I had TIME to take up interests of my own and to try different things.
Having joined the craft group I found that I enjoyed painting , but also had the chance to try
other projects run by the group i.e. sketching, jewellery making, patch working, etc.
I had always knitted and crocheted when I was younger. I don’t knit now as arthritis has caught
up with me but I am improving on my crochet and creating items such as scarves, hats and
blankets which are then donated to others less fortunate.
Another important benefit of being part of a group is that you have the company of other
people and you learn to compromise more..
I get satisfaction from most things I do, sometimes more so than others. I find that I am
very self- critical but I suppose that is only natural as I am always striving to do better next
Being creative helps to keep my mind active, although sometimes it keeps me
awake at night either thinking about something not working to plan or already planning
my next creation.
Completing something I have made from scratch gives me a lot of pleasure and also a
sense of achievement and confidence in my own capabilities, especially if I had thought that
it was a bit beyond me.
Being a member of a Craft Cafe means that you have the company of other like minded
people and this helps with further inspiration for new ideas.
There may be a creative gene in my DNA as I have always enjoyed working with my hands,
whether it was gardening or baking. NOT cooking though.
Having been a keen hillwalker the Scottish scenery has always been an inspiration for
my paintings and although they may not do the scenery the justice it deserves, there is
no reason for me to stop trying.
I consider myself very lucky at this time in my life to have the health and the inclination
to take advantage of all the opportunities available nowadays. The world is my oyster,
and it’s never too late to learn new skills.
As you get older you appreciate that TIME is the most important thing. TIME to do all the
things that you have put off until tomorrow. Now is that TIME. Don’t delay – do it TODAY.