Reflecting on Fun & Memories Hub

With our Fun and Memories Hub project ending in December 2018, I wanted to reflect on what we’ve achieved during the 9 months the project ran.

Activities at The Boswell Centre

Over the Summer Holidays, we held Auchinleck Summer Playscheme at The Boswell Centre. Weekly themed activities for children covered a diverse range of topics including space, reducing waste and circus skills. Each child had a Summer Playscheme Passport and received a stamp for each activity they participated in, giving them a sense of achievement. The children were put into 2 teams – one team called themselves ‘Team Talbot’ whilst the other called themselves ‘The Aliens’.

Throughout the year, we had three ‘seasonal’ discos: Easter, Hallowe’en and Christmas. We had an amazing turnout for the Hallowe’en Disco with 101 children coming along, all in wonderful costumes.

Our Volunteers

Volunteers lent a hand throughout the project; ensuring activities ran smoothly. Volunteers increased their skills and knowledge by taking part in First Aid and Promoting Positive Mental Health training courses.

Young volunteers also worked towards their Saltire Award, recording hours and showing their ongoing commitment to their role. I also had the pleasure of taking 2 of my young volunteers to the #ScotArt Ayrshire Workshop in Irvine where we selected a symbol to represent Ayrshire at the Hogmanay ceremony in Edinburgh. We then made wicker-and-wire saltire hearts.

I also asked our team of volunteers to think about how volunteering made a positive impact on their lives at our ‘Volunteering Lights Up My Life’ event.

Working with Local Schools

During the project, I had the privilege of working with some pupils from local schools.

 Part of the project was to look back on the past of Auchinleck. I had the pleasure of working with the P6/7 class of Auchinleck Primary School to dramatise stories from the lives of the residents of Pennylands Camp in the 1940s. The children did a great job at converting the stories they heard on the Cumnock History Group website into scripts then rehearsing these plays. They then performed to their friends and family at The Boswell Centre.

Having worked with the primary school on that project, I moved on to working with two S1 art classes at Auchinleck Academy. There we created twelve pieces of artwork to represent the Twelve Days of Christmas. These were displayed around Auchinleck during the month of December. It was wonderful to see the pupil’s creativity and great imagination!

Funding

The funding for this project was provided by East Ayrshire Council. This is the perfect opportunity for me to thank everyone who voted for us at the Young People’s Participatory Budgeting events in Cumnock and Drongan in March, where I had a stall. Without your support, these events and activities would not have been possible.

A range of crocheted items for Premature Babies.

Crochet & Knit for Charities: We’re Hooked on doing Good!

As the ‘Crochet & Knit for Charities’ group is about to embark on setting up their own charity, I felt it was the perfect time to reflect on how far the group had come.
The idea for a Crochet Club came about when Nadia was referred to me by her STEP Engagement Worker. Previously, she’d been running a Crochet Club at St Patrick’s Primary for the children. She believed that the children would like the club to continue over the summer.

Nadia crochet

Nadia talking part in the Knit & Crochet for Charities group.

In July 2017, we launched a club for children on Tuesdays, adults on Wednesday evenings and mixed ages on Thursdays. However, the club for children wasn’t popular but we found there was demand for adult classes on a Wednesday evening.  

The adults who attend the class on a Wednesday evening have varying levels of experience. For novices, they want to learn how to crochet and knit from more experienced members. They enjoy the sense of achievement when the create an ‘end product’. Keen crochetiers create flowers and granny squares by the end of their first session. Even if you are a complete novice who gets frustrated with their inability to achieve anything, you’ll get the support you need.

Attending the club every week has other benefits. Crochet and knitting are relaxing hobbies. You can do them anywhere, simply get your needles/hooks and wool out and relieve any stress you have. It’s also a great opportunity to get out of the house and meet other people.

The participants also find it fulfilling to benefit others. The group will make hats, booties, bears and octopuses for premature babies. They’re chuffed with what they have achieved so far and look forward to providing babies at Crosshouse Hospital with hats, butterflies and octopuses. They will also create bonding squares, to be exchanged between mothers and babies. These can either be crocheted or knitted with a heart design in the middle.

The also want to help other groups. For example, beanies for people who have lost their hair during chemotherapy or fidget blankets for dementia sufferers (featuring ruffling crisps packets, zips and buttons for them to calm themselves with).

The group also do seasonal projects such as angels, snowflakes and trees at Christmastime.

Each of the members share a passion for what they do. The club has a friendly atmosphere, with currently around 10 participants in total. Other crafters are welcome to come along at the new time of 6pm-8pm each Wednesday evening.

The group require funding for Crochet & Knit for Charities to continue. This would allow them to subsidise the room hire to make it more affordable to attend. They also want more materials so they can continue to help charities.

Linda will be taking on the role of Chair, with Janice as the Treasurer and Nadia as the Secretary. Keep up-to-date with the latest news from the group on their Facebook page.

I am delighted with the outcome for the group and wish them all the best for the future. If you’ve been inspired by the crochetiers and are interested in setting up a group to run in The Boswell Centre, please get in touch.

Eden Project Community Camp: One Year On

It’s been a year since I attended a Community Camp at Eden Project, so I wanted to reflect on the experience.

Run by the Eden Project Communities team, the sessions are designed to help local activists tackle disconnected communities. This issue costs the UK £32 billion every year, according to research commissioned by Eden Project initiative The Big Lunch and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

My journey to Eden began in Glasgow, where I boarded the plane which took me and my fellow Scottish participants to Exeter. This was my first time flying, so thankfully the flight went smoothly. Despite the fact we were all on the plane together, the conversation between all the Scottish participants began at the airport. We all got onto the service bus together (taking up most of the bus; we didn’t realise there was as many of the Scottish Eden Clan).  Funny enough, the lady I was sitting beside on the bus used to work where I used to volunteer (it’s a small world)!

Throughout the weekend, we heard many inspirational talks on a range of topics. The talk which I took the most away from was “‘unite and unite’ The Power of Community Celebration” by Sue Hill. She spoke about ‘The Museum of Us’, a display of objects which brought about nostalgia for local people and ‘Perthi Kov’ (Cornish for ‘remember’), a project where the stories of the deceased in the graveyard ‘came alive’.

Another talk which linked with my role was Anne-Marie Culhane’s. Her points on project design were thought-provoking. She spoke about intergenerational work, collaboration, creating new rituals and seasonally repeating events. I hope that my projects will incorporate these qualities.

These talks gave me some inspiration for upcoming projects. Most notably, Auchinleck Fun & Memories Hub. Also being part of the Eden Project Community Network means I am connected to many of my fellow ‘Big Lunchers’.

This was an uplifting and interesting experience. Throughout the weekend, we slept in shipping containers which had been converted into accommodation. These were located in a quiet area (you could even here an owl hooting at night!) near Eden Project and we were transported to the main part of the park on a tractor-pulled-roadtrain.

You can view more photographs from the event in the Flickr album.