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News > Perthshire Stroke Group gets creative with new art project

Perthshire Stroke Group gets creative with new art project

Necessity is, they say, the mother of invention. And nowhere has that been more evident than in the creative ways stroke support groups have devised to keep in touch with their members during lockdown and social distance rules.

For Perthshire Stroke Group, one of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s affiliated groups, the move on to Zoom meetings after Covid-19 led to all in-person gatherings being cancelled has meant the group has not only survived but thrived.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the recent creative activity programme funded by the Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust’s ST/ART Project. Run entirely online, nine members of the group and volunteers threw their creative heart and soul into following textile artist Louise Kirby’s instructions.

Eight weeks later, the intrepid artists were able to meet in person at a local farm shop to compare their creations and say thanks to Louise and to Chris Kelly, projects coordinator with Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust.

Learning something new

Cameron Webster is the secretary of Perthshire Stroke Group. He said the members’ enthusiasm for meeting online meant they were raring to go when the arts project came their way.

He says: “This was a fantastic experience. Everyone was learning, but everyone threw themselves into it and got such a lot of satisfaction from taking part.

“It was a new thing for the Trust to try and do a hands-on, practical arts project virtually. That’s tough on the artist, but Louise handled it really well. She used two cameras, and I was able to put the spotlight on her hands so everyone could see exactly what she was doing. And because it was remote, everyone had to do the work themselves, and they did.”

Members of the Perthshire Stroke Group created their own tote bags as part of the art project.

Cameron and Chris delivered all the materials to each participant, which included a plain tote bag, ink pads, paint brush, stencils and printing blocks. Louise invited each person to come up with a positive word about themselves or someone else, then they came up with their design featuring that word to be printed on the bag.

Cameron adds: “It was such a positive experience. Everyone was really engaged in what they were doing and what they were learning. People couldn’t wait to put in their tuppenceworth, and that’s great for a stroke group because it’s all about communication.

“For the next project, we hope to involve more people, particularly those who have mobility or movement issues, and have a volunteer in their home alongside them for the sessions.”

Bringing people together

Chris produced an evaluation report from the project that reported 100 percent of participants wanting to do further programmes, with 100 percent also saying their capability was better or much better than they had anticipated. Those who took part also reported positive benefits to mood, confidence, concentration, social contact and communication.

The project was such a success that the group is already planning their next one, with even more members of the group hoping to get involved.

He says: “Before covid, all of our creative sessions involved bringing people together into the one space. What’s been a revelation for us is that we can run creative arts projects but those taking part can be creative on their own time.

“The Perthshire Stroke Group were so enthusiastic – this is a vulnerable community, but they are not risk-averse. They want to be stimulated, they want to engage. And they did with great success.”

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