Hazel is a stroke survivor who attends our Creative Arts and Conversations Group.

Our Creative Arts and Conversations group is for older people and stroke survivors. They meet on Tuesday mornings to create art with the assistance of professional artists. Their work is exhibited in venues around Cumbria.

Hazel has always greatly enjoyed creative work, particularly embroidery. Unfortunately, her stroke left her unable to sew.

Hazel joined our group as she was eager to continue creative work which she was able to do with her left hand.

We worked with her during sessions to discover and adapt creative processes that she could enjoy like felt making and painting. She was encouraged to keep on using her right hand as much as she could and over the sessions her right hand has got stronger and stronger.

“Craft work has helped me regain the use of my right hand which was immobile.”

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Hazel has also learnt to sew with her other hand and spends much of her time creating intricate and beautiful cross-stitch embroideries and paintings.

“I’ve still got a bad hand, but now I can sew with my left.”

The sessions have not only helped her express her creativity and encouraged the recovery of her right hand, she has also developed a strong bond with the other members of the group.

“I enjoy sharing stories and conversation with the other group members. I always look forward to coming and seeing them.”

We ran a project with the group and students from Distington Community School inspired by the artist Percy Kelly’s illustrated letters. The two groups wrote illustrated letters to one another, sharing stories and memories.

The children created their own play inspired by the letters they received, which they performed alongside an exhibition of the letters in Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle.

The project gave Hazel an unforgettable opportunity to share her stories and memories. She thoroughly enjoyed seeing the children recreate them. She received wonderful feedback from her paintings in the exhibition and had one of them selected to become a postcard for sale in Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.

Hazel now attends the sessions to help other members. She also worked with vulnerable children during one of our projects about Carlisle’s Textile history.

Coming to Creative Arts and Conversations has helped Hazel’s recovery after her stroke, has introduced her to new creative practices, developed a group of friends, built up her confidence, opened up many exciting and worthwhile opportunities while enabling her to continue expressing her creativity.

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