Training Week in Exeter

Training Week Programme

The very first Handmade Wellbeing short term training week in February 2016 was hosted by UK partner Superact in Exeter. The idea of the training weeks is to gather all project partners from Finland, Austria, Estonia and UK to get to know the hosting partner organization and their work, learn together about crafts, wellbeing and working with elderly and reflect on learned lessons to inform future work.

The week was busy, but very inspiring. On the first day, the team of Superact introduced themselves and gave an overview of the work of Superact. We got to see the start of their digital story, which will show their Handmade Wellbeing –process from first contact with their participants to the end. This piece of film will be a contribution to the final exhibition about this project.

Exeter community centre
Central location of action during the training week, Exeter Community Centre
Observing the Workshops in Care Settings

In Handmade Wellbeing Superact works with three different settings of the Guinness Care Partnership. Later in the week all project partners got the opportunity to visit the settings. At a residential and a day care facility in Newton Abbot we got to observe willow weaving workshop for elderly, guided by willow artist Sarah Le Breton.

Printing workshop by artist Jon L Gordon
Printing workshop by artist Jon L Gordon

In a day centre for adults with MS and Parkinson’s in Chudleigh, Devon we saw a printing workshop guided by artist Jon L Gordon. Seeing workshops in action was truly inspiring and evoke a lot of conversation after workshops and later in the week.

Printing workshop, Jon L Gordon
Printing in process
Expert Lecturers

During the week we were joined by Betsan Corkhill who explained the science behind craft activity, such as knitting, and the physiological and psychological impacts it can have to improve wellbeing.

Betsan Corkhill Stitchlinks
Betsan Corkhill, Stitchlinks

Two very experienced care managers, Helen Webb from the Guinness Partnership and Janine Stedman from Tamsden Memories, explained life from the participants and care settings perspectives.

Janine Stedman & Helen Webb
Janine Stedman & Helen Webb

We also heard Superact’s Story Teller, Stu Packer, tell about his experience in a pseudo care facility, roleplaying an elderly gentleman in care. This has had a profound effect on how Stu now works and engages with older people.

Stu Packer
Stu Packer, the Storyteller
Workshops & Cultural Activities

Of course, we also had a hands-on craft workshop on willow weaving, a traditional South West craft. The workshop was guided by Sarah, who also guided workshop in care center. Our workshop was actually before we went to observe it in care center, and it was quite useful to try it yourself, as the technique was probably new to all partners. Fun too!

Willow weaving workshop
Willow weaving flow!

Nice to take home something you made yourself, a fine willow tension tray! Making it wasn’t actually difficult, but it requires quite a lot of strength and using the whole body, not just hands. This is truly captivating, but good to keep in mind when applying this technique to workshops for different target groups.

Willow weaving workshop by willow artist Sarah Le Breton
Willow tension tray in the making!

On our last afternoon we visited the Devon Guild of Craftsmen in Bovey Tracey  to see some local handicraft and artist work.

Devon Guild of Craftsmen
Devon Guild of Craftsmen in Bovey Tracey

Around in Dartmoor National Park. So beautiful!

Dartmoor National Park
Unpredictable weather in Dartmoor

Friday morning was a reflection session to discuss everything we had seen and learned during the week. This was a great week, with everyone learning from each other. Looking forward to the next training week in Helsinki in May!