‘Meet & Make’ began with a conversation between Rev. Calum Macdougall and Mandy Durkin one morning in 2017. . Calum had noticed Mandy was running free craft classes for senior citizens in Peebles Community centre and felt this was something Peebles Old should be able to offer, particularly for people living with dementia. The church then had a successful campaign in the Magazine to raise funds via the Tesco Bags of Help Scheme.
Mandy contacted care homes and assisted living housing in the parish and set up regular classes. She asked for volunteers and received offers from many kind people to help with the classes.
Before the pandemic, the ‘Meet & Make’ team was running regular classes at Dovecot Court, Riverside House, St Ronan’s Care Home and Peebles Community Centre. Those attending would learn new crafting skills, try out different materials and finish with a completed art piece to take home. Then, very importantly, refreshments and chat! For carers bringing loved ones with dementia, this was a rare opportunity for them to have time to themselves, knowing their loved ones were in a safe space. The classes were busy, full of chat and laughter and the main goal was to uplift the spirits of those taking part.
‘Keep Calm & Keep Crafting!’
Once into lockdown, everything stopped. However, Mandy knew that the people in the crafting classes were more vulnerable than ever, and they needed to find a way to continue to reach them. So, she began a fortnightly newsletter ‘Keep Calm & Keep Crafting!’ and a craft activity to be done at home. She also asked her fantastic team of volunteers to ring people once a week to have a chat. So, this is what has been done since March 27th, 2020, now up to Newsletter 31! The letters got bigger and bigger, with people sharing their news and photos. They have been a big comfort to people living on their own, and those far away from family.
As one lady wrote to us:
‘At a time when I have felt so lonely, the letters and phone calls have made me feel like I belong to a family.’
The ‘Meet & Make’ team will continue to ‘Keep Calm & Keep Crafting’ until we are all allowed to ‘Meet & Make’ again!