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Artist residency paints a picture of community spirit

12 February 2016

Retirement living residents in Newcastle-under-Lyme are being encouraged to open up about their prized possessions as part of an artistic project to reduce social isolation.

Every Friday, Sanctuary Housing’s Waveney Court plays host to artist Jim Morris, who sets up in the scheme’s dining area and offers to draw people’s treasured belongings.

The artist’s residency, which runs for two months, is a way to engage people in conversation, with Jim offering residents the chance to get involved in creative activities of their own, such as the chance to try their hand at art skills including sketching and painting.

Sanctuary staff at the scheme decided to set up the project following a taster session in November, which proved to be a hit.

After seeing conversations arising and continuing throughout the afternoon from objects brought in – including a ceramic elephant, jewellery box and a cup left to one lady by her late husband – it was decided to make the sessions a recurring feature.

Scheme manager Amanda Stevenson said: “Our taster session with Jim was really well received so this is looking to be a great way to bring our residents together.

“We’ve got a wide mix of people living here and some are more able than others – this will give them a chance to socialise in a relaxed atmosphere as part of our aim to help residents live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.”

The residency is part of a wider Living Arts Room Programme taking place in retirement homes and care settings across the Staffordshire area managed by Creative Health Community Interest Company with investment from Staffordshire County Council.

The initiative enables care homes and providers to commission professional artists to produce new contemporary artworks during three month residencies at their care settings.

The original artworks that are produced form exciting new displays which engage and enrich the living spaces and environments of participating care homes.  'Our Favourite Things' project at Waveney Court is the last of these Residencies and Creative Health aims to promote this as model of good practice to other Care Providers in the future.

This project was funded by Sanctuary’s Community Investment Fund, supporting projects which benefit Sanctuary residents and their communities.


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