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Everyday creativity For Personal Assistants 

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Creative skills + Support + Community = Better health

Everyday Creativity for Personal Assistants (PAs) aimed to improve the lives of those who provide care in the community by developing creative skills which can be used to support their own mental health, wellbeing, provide a new perspective and to raise awareness of the role of PAs.

This programme was led by Community21 and supported by creative researchers at The Centre for Arts and Wellbeing, University of Brighton.

The key facilitators were Nick Gant and Emma Friedlander Collins.

what happened?

The initial co-design workshop embraced the challenge of virtual delivery using the online tool MIRO, providing a strong interaction and initial insight into ‘the world of the PA’. This workshop was particularly helpful because it gave the participants a safe space to talk to each other about the challenges of their work, how they overcome them, what they love and what they like to do outside of work.

A closed Facebook Group was created where PA’s could become part of an informal network, share with each other their experiences of the project and encourage each other to share their creative activities.

Active dialogue between PAs and the project team caused some participants to realise that many of their hobbies and interests were creative or involved an element of creativity.

“They drew out to me the fact that I like doing photography and I've never really considered that to be creative as such, I just sort of see it as a hobby…I don't consider myself to be what I used to term as ‘arty-farty’, I can't see things, for me it's just a case of, I do it, I like that picture, I don't like that one.”

PA participant

Over the course of the project, this new understanding of creativity has blossomed and was a huge highlight, engaging PA’s, a relatively hidden and disconnected ‘network’ in a dialogue about their professional (and personal) lives and the role creativity might play in the delivery of their services.

With input from PAs, activity packs were designed and produced in the studio at the University of Brighton and sent to participants. These included a journal, stickers, postcard prompts, evaluation stickers, recipes, lino cut materials (with videos to support), disposable camera (to take a photo each day) and iron-on transfers (for T shirts/tea towels etc).

The value of the activities was to support the participants emotionally using journals and photos to track their own development and many of the activity pack inclusions were designed to give them new skills which will be forever useful.

“Quite often you wont see the seeds of something that you planted in a 6 week period, it can be something that will actually stay with them for a longer time and actually blossom at a completely unexpected given moment” 

Emma Friedlander-Collins, Community 21

 

impact

A community emerged from the project, which was not evident before and there are members of a social media group and individuals who would identify with and champion the notion of Everyday Creativity. In addition, participants saw huge value from the investment in ‘quality designed’ resources.

 

The project helped to demonstrate the value and impact of critical and creative reflection as a possible and more fundamental ‘version’ of ‘Everyday Creativity’.  The team acknowledged how the ‘deeper thinking’ established in those who were drafted to represent the PA community and who engaged in the co-design of the tools and methods, developed throughout the project. 

Resources

 Everyday Creativity - Case studies - Community21

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Bird Boxes Created by Participants and Shared on Closed Facebook Group
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