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Headway Milton Keynes art group combats feelings of isolation Main Image

Headway Milton Keynes art group combats feelings of isolation

Thu 23 Apr 2020

An online art group set up by Headway Milton Keynes is helping to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation for brain injury survivors in the community amid the coronavirus crisis.

Headway Milton Keynes has been running art groups for those affected by brain injury at its centre on Avebury Boulevard for a number of years, enabling survivors to explore their creativity, work on their fine motor skills and socialise with their peers.

However, following the coronavirus outbreak, the day centre and the art sessions on offer had to come to a stop. This meant that some individuals were left with the prospect of nowhere to turn in their times of need.

Thankfully, Headway Milton Keynes were quick to step in, introducing new virtual art classes that could help keep brain injury survivors motivated and engaged during a period of self-isolation.

Just before the charity had to close its day centre, service users were given art packs consisting of painting and drawing materials so they could carry on being creative in their own homes.

Now, twice a week, art tutor Sophie Bennett leads virtual classes where brain injury survivors are given a topic to focus on, whether that be a particular artist or theme, and asked to express their creativity through painting, drawing and other art forms.

The group then reconvene to share their artwork with each other and discuss how they found the creative process.

A social media page was also set up, giving those involved a chance to inspire each other with their creations and share common interests. 

Kirsty Rook, the charity’s Service Manager, said: “The virtual art classes have proven a great way for our members to socialise and stay in touch with one another.

“As well as stimulating the brain, the art classes can help to heighten confidence, increase communication, relearn physical and cognitive skills and improve emotional wellbeing – something that’s more important now than ever before.

“During these unprecedented times, brain injury survivors may experience heightened feelings of isolation and loneliness, so it’s important to us to support them through this pandemic in any way we can.

“By hosting online outreach services, we can connect with our members and reassure them that although our face-to-face services have had to come to a stop, our support remains as unwavering as ever.”

The charity has had a great response to the virtual art classes that have been set up, not only from brain injury survivors themselves, but from their carers too.

Kirsty said: “We’ve had great feedback from some of the carers of those who are involved with the art classes, with many of them reporting that it has helped to ease some of the caring responsibilities.

“For some carers, their only chance of respite came when their loved one attended Headway Milton Keynes. When we had to close the doors to our day centre, many feared that the opportunity to step away from their caring responsibilities and have time to themselves would be lost.

“But thankfully, the art classes have meant that carers are given an hour or so, twice a week, to run errands, do the shopping, clean or just take some well-deserved time to focus on their own wellbeing while their loved one is taken care of – albeit it virtually.”

But these classes come at a cost to the charity.

Kirsty said: “The virtual services incur significant outgoings such as the art supplies, staff costs and the new technology needed to make it a success.

“This means that in order to continue providing such services and supporting brain injury survivors in the community, we rely on generous donations made by the public.

“Every pound donated will go directly towards supporting those affected by brain injury in Milton Keynes and will make a huge difference to their lives.”

To donate, visit the charity’s Virgin Money Giving page.