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Our work with older people

Volunteers' Week 2018: Sarah and Quinn's Stories

It's Volunteers' Week 2018! We've been speaking to members of our team who got their start at Impact Arts as volunteers, and have gone on to secure employment with the organisation.

As well as being a great way to make a difference in the community through using your creativity, volunteering with us often offers a chance to get to know the organisation and how your skills can be put to best use on our programmes.

Former Craft Cafe Edinburgh volunteer, now paid Creative Assistant

Working with Impact Arts at Craft Café in Edinburgh as a volunteer was an incredibly enriching and creative experience, and one through which I discovered my career in Community Arts.

During my time as a volunteer, I was both supported in my learning and encouraged to contribute creatively. I felt that my input was valued and that my development was actively facilitated. While I had no experience working with older people upon starting my placement, directly assisting the lead tutor meant that I progressed quickly and grew my skills through observation and working closely with participants and the team.

I would always encourage those looking to gain experience or explore career options to try volunteering because there are so many interesting opportunities through which one can learn, share and grow.

Former CashBack to the Future volunteer, now paid Creative and Communications Assistant

Volunteering with Impact Arts is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was unemployed and desperate to find something to do with my day beyond reading job rejection emails.

I was lucky enough to get in on the floor with CashBack to the Future, a young persons' summer project – this allowed me to develop my skillset in an energetic, challenging and fun environment, while also learning from Impact Arts first-rate tutors. Volunteering helped shape my career and gave me the foundations to finding employment.

Impact Arts as an organisation looks to enable and empower their volunteers. They are interested in you as an individual and will go above and beyond to assist you in any way they can.

Interested in volunteering with Impact Arts? Find our what we're recruiting for currently here on the website.

Meet Kathleen: a community musician and researcher working with Impact Arts

Kathleen Turner is a singer-songwriter, community musician and researcher based in Limerick, Ireland. Kathleen is also part of the Clore Leadership programme, and has chosen Impact Arts as the organisation for her secondment as part of the programme.

Here Kathleen speaks about what she has been doing with Impact Arts as part of the first month of her placement, her first impressions of the organisation and the value of community arts more generally.

Tell us a little about your current role and background in community arts

I am course director of the MA Community Music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick. I've been in the role for three years and part of the Academy as a student and tutor since 2006.

After I graduated I worked for the Irish Chamber Orchestra to set up a primary schools pilot – named Sing Out With Strings - which is currently celebrating its 10th birthday. The aim is to ensure that every child has access to joyful and worthwhile musical experiences, through offering singing, songwriting, instrumental tuition and after-school choir and orchestra.


Tell us more about the Clore Leadership Programme you are part of.

Every year Clore choose 25 fellows working in arts, culture or heritage from around the world to take part in a year’s intensive development in cultural leadership. At different points during the year, we’re all together for training, conferences, visits and interviews, and we also do the secondment – which is why I’m at Impact Arts. The idea is that we develop our own skills, experience and confidence, and that when we’re finished, we bring new learning back to our local arts scene. My fellowship is supported by the Jerome Hynes Fellowship and funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.


What made you choose Impact Arts?

After researching Impact Arts, I found I very much identified with the ethos here, the commitment to helping people experience arts every day and the impact that has on people’s lives. I wanted to learn from the organisation’s strong legacy of working in communities.

Also, because a large proportion of Impact Arts' works with is visual or making, I felt it was enough of a stretch to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to learn more from the artists working here about how visual art and making can be a way of bringing people together in the same way music can.


What has been your experience of working in Craft Café workshops for older people in Govan?

I’ve been going every Tuesday, spending time with the members, delivering music sessions and helping the artists Charlotte and Quinn with the practicalities of delivering the workshops.

We’ve been looking at different songs the community members enjoy - and we have also written a Craft Café anthem! We worked as a group to develop the melody on ukulele and banjo-lele, while one member wrote these brilliant, clever lyrics that namecheck others in the group.

It’s a really supportive atmosphere at Craft Café, with a real sense of encouragement and kindness. People really celebrate each other. The members also immediately took me under their wing – when I told them I hadn’t painted since school they were helping me out, making suggestions. On my first day, they were telling me how important the space is to them; how much they love having a place they can come, be creative and be with their friends.


What work have you been doing with primary schools?

I’ve been going into Primary One and Primary Two classes in two schools in the East End of Glasgow and looking at how you can introduce singing using a very simple model. We’ve been using the theme of songs from around the world, which – as these are very multicultural classrooms – has been a lovely way to acknowledge different cultures in the room.

We’ve been learning songs with actions and spending time doing that really simple and lovely thing of enjoying making music together. We’ve also been using our imaginations, traveling around the world and imagining what we can see – so far we’ve been to Ghana and India and next week we’re off to Jamaica.


What have you learned in your time here so far?

I’ve learned about the importance of relationships. It has solidified for me how important establishing partnerships is to the success of the projects. Impact Arts clearly has a deep level of trust within communities. When looking to set up the music pilot, I was blown away by how quickly the schools here were ready for me to start, and that was possible because of established relationships and trust.

I’ve found it’s a very healthy organisation because it’s constantly evolving – people are always thinking about how to innovate, are open to change, suggestions and ideas. And there’s a super positive atmosphere as well – it’s been very welcoming.

What is the purpose of community arts to you?

At its root, it’s about bringing people together and making sure that everyone has access to beautiful artistic and creative opportunities – whether that be seeing, listening, making, or performing - in a way that is inclusive, joyful and celebratory. You’re celebrating people at the end of the day – that’s what community arts is to me.


#KeepGovanCrafting: Thank You!

As you’ll have seen all over our social media channels, we’ve been posting stories, quotes, photos, videos and case studies all about Craft Cafe Govan, which was facing closure at the end of March due to funding pressures.

As well as raising the money necessary to #KeepGovanCrafting, we wanted to raise awareness of the incredible good the service does in celebrating the creative achievements of older people while breaking down isolation and loneliness in a demographic particularly affected by these.

We were absolutely thrilled to raise £3,590 in a month through our Crowdfunder and although we fell short of our target, we have also been able to access other support including £4,993 from Glasgow’s European Championships Our Place Fund as voted for by members of the public.

At end March we learned that there would be continuation of People & Communities funding into 2018/19 and we have now submitted our application and are eagerly awaiting the outcome.

The money raised through crowdfunding and public vote has been absolutely crucial in making sure the service is sustained, and Impact Arts has pledged to continue running Craft Café three days a week entirely free for the almost 100 members that attend regularly while we work to secure other pots of funding which will keep the Craft Café running on a longer term basis.

We want to say – on behalf of the Craft Café members, staff and volunteers - a heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated, voted and helped spread the word about the campaign.

Special thank you also to Scottish Government for their support throughout this period, particularly Nicola Sturgeon MSP and Humza Yousaf MSP.

It has also been hugely worthwhile in helping raise the profile of the service – and the value of creative activities in tackling social issues older people face more generally.

We will continue to keep you updated about the funding situation as soon as we hear anything – but for now, thank you so much for keeping Govan crafting!

Craft Café Govan runs on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Elderpark Centre in Govan. If you are interested in coming along, please contact Lead Tutor Charlotte Craig on 07793081951 or

Volunteer with Impact Arts and help older people in your community

Are you interested in arts and creativity? Could you offer a few hours a week to help older people in your community?

Older people can sometimes become isolated within their own communities. We are looking to assemble a team of volunteers in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire to create welcoming environments for older people to enjoy, and arts activities to inspire them to create their own work.

As one of these volunteers you will be over 18 years old and able to commit to a one day a week.

You will receive training from a Volunteer Development Co-ordinator, a Creative Ageing Tutor and Impact Arts' partners who will develop your talent and support you to deliver workshops and regular local showcases to display the work that has been created.

You will be supported to gain new skills, make connections, and gain the confidence and knowledge to contribute to the development of your community. You will work towards becoming part of a wider network of Creative Volunteers who will be able to provide you with peer support, share plans, and help co-design programmes.

You can also choose to work towards achieving a Community Achievement Award and/or Arts Award as part of this programme.


On a day to day basis we would ask you:

  • To attend volunteer development training sessions as delivered by our Volunteer Co-ordinator, the wider Impact Arts staff and our partners.
  • To develop your own workshop ideas with the support of the Volunteer Co-ordinator and Creative Ageing Tutor.
  • To prepare materials and equipment, prepare artworks for exhibition, set up and tidy away workshops
  • To support participants on a one to one basis where they require additional help and support
  • To help to maintain safe and protective boundaries
  • To assist staff to document workshops through a variety of means, completing basic paperwork, take photographs etc.



Download a full volunteer role description here (PDF). To register your interest, call Impact Arts on 01294 273 051 or email

A PVG check will be required (Impact Arts will cover the cost of this).

Closing date: April 2018 Interviews: April 2018

The programme is funded by the Scottish Government's Aspiring Communities Fund, the European Social Fund, Linstone Housing, Barrhead Housing Association, Engage Renfrewshire, and Langholm Tenants and Residents Association.

#KeepGovanCrafting: Steven's Story

As part of our #KeepGovan Crafting campaign to prevent the closure of our older people's Craft Cafe in Govan, we're sharing stories about the service, how it has changed the lives of the members and why it is vital the service continues. This is Steven's Story - please note, the name has been changed for confidentiality.

Before retiring, Steven had worked as a hospital porter at the Southern General. Active and a hard worker, when it came to retirement he was concerned about losing motivation and becoming isolated. Having no family of his own, he had seen other unmarried friends find themselves with too much time on their hands, drinking their retirement away in pubs without anything to focus on.

He wanted to escape this pattern and resolved to do something different. He initially joined an NHS walking group, but was finding that this didn’t push him hard enough. One day, however, the health worker for the group took participants to the Craft Cafe Govan. Always having held artistic ambitions and an admirer of artistic skill, here he saw an opportunity to get involved with something he hadn’t done since school.

Upon joining the Craft Cafe, Steven was very focused on learning how to draw and paint. He borrowed art books from the Craft Cafe to take home and study, asked for technical advice from more experienced members and gradually built up his confidence and skill. Having started by using drawing guides, eventually he was creating artwork from his imagination, and now finds himself at a point where he is confident in his ability and making work of which he is rightly proud.

It gives him a sense of achievement, he explains, even just in the little things he learns, and he finds himself utterly absorbed and enjoying what he is doing. “When I am at home on my own it can get quite bad,” he reflects. “It gets heavy for me sometimes. People are not meant to be on their own like that and that’s why we go to things and keep busy.

“The people and the company at the Craft Café give me incentive. I genuinely wish I’d done this years ago. Other things have held me back, but I have started and it’s my time now, I am doing what I have always wanted to do.”

“The Craft Cafe gives me a target, a reason to get up and out, and helps stop feelings of loneliness. I get bored sitting at home and staring at the TV. But after coming here, I find myself practising my drawing at home instead of watching the telly!” Steven

Craft Cafe Govan is facing closure after March 2018. We are looking to raise £12,000 to secure the service for another year. Any donations you can afford would be welcome. Visit our Crowdfunding page for all the details.

Donate now

The team at Impact Arts work hard to secure over £1.5m of funding per year to provide life changing creative experiences for more than 5000 people.

You can help us achieve this target through making a single gift, or a regular donation. Thank you.

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