From couch to creative with Durham charity

An online art project has proved a huge hit for people with learning disabilities.

The Creative Couch project was launched by TIN Arts at the beginning of lockdown, and has made a positive impact right across the region.

Formerly known as TIN at Home, the project was designed to help people with a learning disability or autism take part in art-based activities. It was also designed to help participants stay active at home during the pandemic. Taking the course online also helped to remove some of the barriers to art activities.

A grant of almost £5,000 through County Durham Community Foundation from the National Emergencies Trust helped pay for artist fees to create the content, postage and DVDs for the project.

Art for all

During the pandemic, people with a disability have been very hard hit. Many continue to be isolated and have struggled to return to community activities or access support services.

The project provided tailor-made digital content for each participant’s needs, shared through a YouTube channel or a DVD posted to the clients’ home.

All participants received regular phone calls to support their progress.

Martin Wilson, executive director at Tin Arts, said: “When we started this project we didn’t know what to expect. However, we have seen a real positive interest and welcomed 34 new members who we wouldn’t normally be able to support face-to-face.

Family focus

Jenny* joined the programme in April, after the death of her beloved grandad left her feeling very low and unmotivated.

The Creative Couch gave her a new focus and something to look forward to. She took part in fitness classes, arts and crafts and cooking.

Her whole family joined in the activities and the family really appreciated the support during their difficult time.

The project has been so successful that it will now extend to cover Tees Valley.

*names have been changed