Artytime, East Sussex – Airs Village Agent Karen supports a craft group with a difference – April 2020

Artytime is a local group based in the Crowborough area of East Sussex. Their mission is to bring arts and crafts to all ages and abilities, for the benefit of their happiness, health and wellbeing as well as the wider community. Village Agent, Karen recently went along to one of the group’s activities to offer support and advice.

Artytime’s began life in 2013 and was the brainchild of Beverly Pashley. Bev’s first interaction with Action in Rural Sussex was when a former Village Agent mentored and supported her in accessing East Sussex County Council Seed corn funding to get the project started.

The project has now developed to include after school art clubs, low cost family fun sessions and young at heart sessions – where young children and their families interact with care home residents. Bev has also developed training to support volunteers to deliver the sessions and move into paid roles and is currently involved with setting up youth provision in Crowborough.

Knowing that Artytime was in demand from schools and care homes, Village Agent, Karen, was keen to continue to support the group; this included clarifying next steps for the groups development and help accessing further ESCC funding to recruit and train more staff and volunteers.

Artytime has a good reputation for nurturing and developing the interests, talents and skills of its volunteers and have a 90% retention rate of volunteers in their 6 year history, with a number going on to gain paid work within arty time or elsewhere. Many volunteers describe feeling part of the arty time family and part of their wider community.

Karen recently visited a Young at Heart session in Copperbeach Care home in Uckfield run by volunteers Putria and Lauren. Joined by 8 residents, a volunteer from the care home, 3 parents, 1 grandparent and 4 children under 2, it was a bright and colourful and uplifting scene.

Residents enjoy having the young children around, watching them play and talking to their parents. Both children and residents are supported in playing together and Karen noticed that all the residents joined in with the singing and instruments at the end of the session.

Colin, aged 91 and a bit enjoys coming to the sessions, saying that “young and old get along together, they don’t judge you and you can be playful and naughty”.

New Volunteer Lauren, also leaves with a positive feeling after each session. She loves her volunteering role which she describes as giving her an extra confidence boost, and feels much supported in it, having just finished a first aid training.

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