Case Study: St Anne's House
The St Monica Trust fund several Community Development Workers for Older People (CDOP) across Bristol, Bath & North-East Somerset, and North Somerset. In March 2022, a partnership between the CDOP worker for South Bristol, Bricks Bristol, and Liz, a local resident, was formed and a creative meet-up group was founded.
Activities for older people
A need for activities that were aimed at and engaged older people was identified through various community conversations. Members of the local community felt that there were very limited options in the local area.
Together, the partnership formed the idea of a creative activity group and recruited a volunteer so that the group could offer a friendly welcome from the start.
Creative community meet-ups
The group has been meeting on Thursday mornings at St Anne's House, a space which has been provided for free by Bricks.
Each week there is a creative activity on offer led by a facilitator, or more recently by group members. Activities have included weaving, collage, printmaking, seed planting and shared reading.
These are informal sessions where people can chat, have a cup of tea, and join in if they wish.
Many people who have come to the group are experiencing challenges in their lives; bereavement, dementia, chronic pain, cancer, and depression are examples.
One member has described attending the sessions as a break from the real world. There have been supportive conversations during the group and members have signposted each other to groups and services.
The group has become quite important to me…social contact, creative release, fun!
Several group members are active in the local community, have spread the word about the group, and introduced new people.
The group discusses local issues of interest to them and share details of community activities and events.
A recent flower collage session developed into placard-making for a local protest about the proposed house building on Brislington Meadows as the group shared their mutual concerns about this green space and decided to creatively make their voices heard.
Liz lives close to St Anne’s House. She lives with a chronic illness, fibromyalgia, which means that she is often in pain and uses a mobility scooter to enable her to get around.
Liz and the CDOP worker met at another community group in Brislington and got talking about St Anne’s House. Liz was looking for a local community group to join and talked about her love of crafting. She was keen to support a new group and share her creative skills. She joined the planning meeting for the community meet-up group and was there to welcome people on the first day.
The flexibility of the group is something that greatly benefits its members. It is a drop-in which means they can attend for a short while if they do not feel up to the whole session, and can just sit and chat if they do not want to take part in the activity.
Liz recently led a session where she taught macrame to about 20 people.
“Quite a challenge,” she said, “but I was ecstatic afterwards. It was a buzz being able to teach people, stay with them, guide them and they had something to take away.”
“I have met so many local people I wouldn’t have known otherwise through the group,” says Liz, “and then I meet them when I am out on my scooter, and we have something in common to talk about.”
Liz believes that a good community group is all about community understanding. A community group she says should have, “a friendly face when you arrive and a willingness to listen and learn.”
She loves the friendly nature of the group and feels that it is a diverse mixture of local people.
It’s a very positive place, people feel welcome and happy to come.
Find out more about the creative community meet-ups at St Anne's House on their website.