Helping Carers in Norfolk: Gwen’s Story
Gwen first contacted Carers Matter Norfolk in September 2020. At the time, Gwen was feeling overwhelmed with her caring role, Gwen faced many challenges with caring for her two daughters and her husband who all have complex health issues. On top of this Gwen also copes with her own challenges in life mild cerebral palsy, autism and ADHD.
Gwen discovered art during the lockdown in 2020 and it really helped her escape. Gwen is so grateful that a Family Carer Practitioner of Carers Matter Norfolk introduced her to the Hope Progamme and “HopePunk”. HopePunk is an art exhibition and festival celebrating people overcoming health challenges with action, creativity, and hope.
The Hope community provides services to empower people to manage their health and wellbeing and their art exhibition is held in Coventry and Gwen exhibited her artwork there in 2021.
Since then, Gwen has had an amazing journey with art. It has given her the strength to overcome her own social anxiety to attend such an event. She has also conquered her fears to join a regular art class, and despite a knockback from one class Gwen found the courage to find an accepting group and she really benefits from her weekly art. Gwen credits her current art tutor, Nicki Saunders, to helping Gwen not only with her art but her confidence too. You can see from some of her artwork shown here, Gwen definitely has talent.
Gwen said “I get a lot of enjoyment and peace when I am doing my art and it feels like I am in my own little world”.
In September 2022 Gwen also managed to have a break away from her caring role and attended an art retreat in France. Gwen’s love for art gave her the strength to overcome the anxiety she felt about the whole trip away. Although Gwen faced her own emotional struggles during the retreat, she overcame them and now has the confidence to attend a further trip in 2023.
Voluntary Norfolk staff who work with the Carers Matter Norfolk partnership have managed to secure some funding, via the Health & Wellbeing Fund, for Gwen to have 7 hours of 1 to 1 sessions with her art tutor.
Gwen still gets overwhelmed and experiences difficulties with her mental health in relation to her caring role and her own invisible disabilities. Through pursuing her love of art Gwen is now able to access art classes which allows her to have some selfcare time, away from all the responsibilities, allows her to be herself and her mind is totally immersed in the art she creates. It has given her a new focus and something to look forward to every week.
Gwen also loves to share her art and spread the joy of her work and is always looking for new projects.
Gwen’s journey with art continues and it gives her a purpose and continues to be her escape from the stresses of life. It also takes her on a journey of meeting new people so helps her gain confidence and gives her the strength to face her social anxiety. Gwen is always spreading the joy of her art.
Below is a selection of more of Gwen’s art. Everyone at Voluntary Norfolk wishes Gwen all the best for the future and we look forward seeing more of her artwork.