Arts Together unites professional artists and older people for weekly art workshops and creative activities.

Its lively sessions, the companionship they provide, play an important role in countering loneliness and isolation and enhancing the wellbeing of older adults. The group has 72 members ranging in age from 60-99 and runs 180 sessions a year in Devizes, Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge, Melksham, Pewsey and Marlborough.

Our three-year grant supported the recruitment and training of artists and volunteers to deliver their much needed services. Manager Karolyne Fudge-Malik says: “When you are older you can become frail and this makes you more vulnerable as you can’t protect yourself anymore or easily get away from difficult situations. This leads to people being too scared to leave their houses and the less they go out the more the fear builds and then their confidence totally goes and they lose their social skills. They become scared to face the world.

“When people join Arts Together they are often nervous and some are even terrified; you can see them physically shaking. Effectively supporting them over that first hurdle of attending a session is vital as once they realise that we are offering a safe and supportive environment their feelings change. It is extremely important that our volunteers and artists receive the right training as the people we work with are extremely vulnerable.

“Our clients have a range of different and sometimes complex physical and mental health issues so we need to train our volunteers and artists to support people with everything from low mood to dementia, Parkinson’s disease or sight loss.

“Our members get a huge amount from our sessions and for many, it can be life-changing. A lot of our clients have very low self-worth; they feel they have nothing to contribute anymore. But by coming to our group and taking part in our activities they are amazed at what they can achieve and surprised that they can learn new skills. This helps to build their confidence and sense of self-worth. It’s wonderful to watch members blossom, grow in confidence and get a new lease of life.”

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