Paul has been an Open Minds client for over five years and recently expanded his community participation to include a fortnightly art group.
Making the decision to join the art group was no small feat for Paul as he had previously been reluctant to incorporate anything other than shopping trips into the two days each week that he is supported by Open Minds.
Paul’s Support Worker, Lesley, recognised his love for art and encouraged him to join the group at his local community centre.
“The best part of the art group is that participants are free to work in whatever medium they wish, at their own pace,” Lesley explained. “There is no teaching – it is purely a safe, welcoming space to engage with art and other people in the group.
“Everyone at the art group is very friendly and Paul really enjoys catching up with them,” said Lesley.
Paul has been working with colouring mandalas, which is a form of art therapy that can help reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus and encourage creativity.
“I have been trying different mediums, but pencils are my favourite because they let me add more colour to my pictures,” said Paul.
In addition to discovering a new hobby that brings Paul great joy, it also helps him to feel peaceful. “I find art very relaxing, and I love sharing my work when it’s done,” he said.
Paul generously shares his vibrant works with staff at the care facility where he lives.
“One of the cooks told me she loves lions, so I coloured a picture of a lion for her. She loved it and that made me feel good,” said Paul.
Paul also enjoys colouring apps on his iPad, which gives him the freedom to be creative whenever and wherever he wishes.
Paul still enjoys trips to the shops, and thanks to Lesley’s careful planning and proximity to his art group, it is possible to fit both activities into one day.
“I have always liked buying things but now when I go to the shops, I look for more art sets to collect,” said Paul.
Joining the art group has given Paul the confidence to try new things. He wants to learn to paint and Lesley says they plan to go fishing soon, too.
“I am so proud of Paul’s newfound willingness to give things a go. But more importantly, he is really proud of himself,” said Lesley.
Being active in the community is important for a sense of belonging and social connectedness. Find out more about Open Minds Community Participation service.