Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Spoons 2: Corton House

On 7th October 2015, for the second Creating a Stir session, I visited Corton House, a residential care home in Norwich. We had ten participants who were all very elderly (85+), with medium to severe mental and physical needs.

"There was a lovely ambience and I felt relaxed enough to have a go at making a doll – jolly good fun." Pam- Corton House resident

This group loved the objects so much we didn't have time for the stories. The objects provoked some great reminiscences and interactions between the participants. Some tried on bits of costume and most remembered their mothers using a washing dolly! 

"I liked looking at all the objects, especially the leg! I felt comfortable enough to make a doll - it did not matter if it was not perfect." Ursula- Corton House Resident

The star object was the wooden leg. Many of the group commented on the way disability was regarded in the past and said how glad they were that things had changed. They all enjoyed chatting about the workhouse- in particular the classification of the inmates- and were interested in the current Voices from the Workhouse development. 

"We must do something like this again, it was rather nice." Janet- Corton House Resident 

Learning from the previous sessions, I had some spoons ready with their 'arms' attached, and some pre cut trousers to encourage people to make male dolls as well as female. There were still some limitations for the craft activity due to the additional needs of the group, but the pre-mades helped enormously. 

This was a smaller group than previously, with the addition of helpers from a local sixth form, and this made a positive, practical difference, with the Sixth Formers also benefitting.

"I really enjoyed the talk. It was very interesting and I had no idea how people had to live." Louise- Sixth Former 

Further reflection and consultation with the group's organiser has shown that more changes are needed to the activity to increase accessibility: next time I will provide paper and card in addition to fabric because some participants had greater confidence working with those (a couple unknowingly used my paper templates to dress their dolls)!

Maria, the organiser from Corton House, passed on an additional comment from another resident, Jean, who at 96 is the eldest of the group:
"Jean said Rachel is a very vivacious girl * and good fun~! (I agree!!) She loved making the doll with hair and a face. What a lovely afternoon." Maria- Corton House staff.

Here are the photos of the latest dolls. They are full of character (and we got some men)!

A total of 26 dolls completed so far!

*Author's note: I like being called a girl- it hasn't happened for years.

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