Pebble in My Pocket supports isolated women aged 50 and over in Corby. Sessions begin in a cafe and then move to a library for arts and crafts sessions to improve mental health. Member Jayne Incles talks about how the project has helped create a community.

picture for projectStory: a hand made cup and saucer being painted

I like to do anything that’s crafty, making things. I've always done that. I’ve always been interested to learn something new. I worked full time in a hectic job where you had to be physically fit and then became chronically ill, and bedridden. It's very isolating, very lonely. You end up questioning yourself about how you ended up in that position. One minute, you’re going along with your life and the next minute you’re adrift. It was an awful time for me.

When I could finally start moving around again, there was absolutely nothing for me to do in Corby. It took me nearly three years to find somewhere to go. Other local women with similar experiences are very lucky that the Eloquent Fold began and we could start going there. They keep us busy.

They always have different projects lined up that push our boundaries with what we can do or make, but always making sure that people who are less able can keep up and have support.

There’s a varied age group of women who attend Pebble in My Pocket, some people are younger than me and we also have pensioners. We’ve all got to know each other over the years, and there have been many new faces, which is nice. I like being part of a group of like-minded people, as some have had the same experience as me. Some of the group have had very different experiences to myself; it's nice, because there's an understanding between us and that's empowering.

Each session starts in a café where we have tea, coffee and biscuits so that everybody’s relaxed. That gives everybody the opportunity to talk about other things, as well as the projects we're doing; it gives a sense of affinity and allows new people to be introduced to our community. There are no barriers for new members, we don’t want anyone to feel intimidated. It's very friendly, and open.

Projects like this are essential for people like myself to keep our sanity, keep us moving and to keep us excited about doing new things.

Jayne Incles

Project member

After meeting in the café we go over to the library to enjoy the crafts session, and by that point everybody's buzzing. We do all sorts of craft projects. Sewing was my first love, and I enjoy doing that in the group. The group activities include drawing, papercraft, knitting, crochet, to name just a few. The nice thing about the group is we all have a niche that we migrate towards, and then the project leaders, Carol and Phiona, take us out of that niche and make us do more challenging activities that maybe we wouldn't otherwise try, and most of the time it's successful.

The Pebble in My Pocket activities that we've just finished involved us being provided with a piece of recycled card that had a template printed on it. We constructed them into 3d objects that we covered with papier mache, then we painted them and added decorations. We ended up with these lovely cups and saucers, all from recycled material - how good is that?

People can move at their own pace and are given plenty of support which is so important. There’s plenty of time and space during the sessions for members to achieve their goal, this is so essential. It certainly is to me. I have craft experience and so learning new skills makes me feel good. But there are a lot of people who need more support on the craft side. It's very important to them because they're not only learning new skills, they're also meeting other members of the group which breaks down barriers and allows them to be themselves

It's been wonderful. It's like a new lease of life for all of us. One woman in particular, she's younger than me, but she was poorly and now she's an amputee but nothing has changed in terms of her involvement – she’s supported more so that she’s still doing all the things she did before. Nobody’s excluded.

Having these opportunities available for free is also very important, especially in in our area, because there's so many people on low income who wouldn’t be able to attend if they had to start paying. It wouldn’t be accessible to them. They may not have the opportunity to regularly visit coffee shops because of expense. Pebble in My Pocket offers everything for free - we've got the tea , coffee and the biscuits, and also the wonderful craft sessions.

Projects like this are essential for people like myself to keep our sanity, keep us moving and to keep us excited about doing new things.


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