This project is part of the TAAG (Teignmouth Arts Action Group) Community Outreach Programme. It consists of arts based sessions for people with current or recent caring responsibilities, and also people at risk of social isolation. Sessions are led by volunteer tutors who share and develop skills with participants. There are over 1800 Carers in Teignmouth (source: 2011 census). There is evidence to suggest that whilst caring for someone has many positive aspects, Carers can also experience poor health, stress, isolation, and loss of social interaction. So to be effective, Carers need to take care of themselves as well. Make It Thursdays enables Carers to come together, share experiences and take a break to explore their own talents and creativity.
In Spring 2016, a group of Carers, identified by Volunteering in Health and a TAAG volunteer (who took poetry, music and art into the homes of Carers), were invited to TAAG’s workshop. Funding from Devon Community Foundation enabled artists to work with the group to create sculptures for TRAIL, (Teignmouth’s annual recycled art sculpture trail). The public display involved interaction with the wider community, raising awareness of the role Carers play and their individual abilities and strengths. Beautiful mosaics were produced, which have permanent homes in Pellew Arcade and the sea front. Since then, a group of Carers have met weekly, calling themselves Make It Thursdays, exploring a wide range of activities including printmaking and fabric craft. They have continued contributing to the wider community, by developing, testing and producing the prototypes for the recycled and traditional willow lanterns that formed the foundation of last year’s successful Christmas Lantern Parade.
The diverse workshop activities each Thursday brings people together to provide creative stimulus and the opportunity to interact and develop friendships with others. The work produced celebrates the uniqueness of the individuals involved, which can sometimes be lost within a caring role. As their contribution to TRAIL and the Christmas Lantern Parade demonstrates, it also enables this dynamic group to share their achievements, which in turn, contributes to the wellbeing of all Teignmouth residents.