Friday, 8 April 2011

Chilling Out, Protesting and Stitching

Well dear reader, it has been totally impossible to write before now as I have needed a week to recover from my Mothers’ Day treat!
I caught the train down to west Sussex on Saturday to be greeted by my daughter Kate who lives in the most idyllic rural retreat.  At the moment her little village is filled with daffodils and blossom trees.  After a chilled out evening and morning she took me off for lunch in a lovely Tudor era hotel set in a beautiful country par.  After a digestive stroll around the grounds I was treated to a one and half hour deep tissue massage.  Well – after that I could hardly move!!  We had to sit by the pool and drink cups of tea for a couple of hours to recover before she poured me back on the train!
I had to work on the phones in the Enquiry Unit the next day.  I was soooo chilled out that nothing bothered me – not even the virus that invaded my computer causing all sorts of graphic pornographic images to pop up at the most unexpected times!  Katrina did not want to know about my blissful weekend having just had a far too hectic one! 
Luckily we have finished college for Easter so there is one less thing to do for a while, but I have so much stuff to do during the break I am going to have to pace myself quite carefully.  On Thursday I went to a consultation meeting about the  Adult Education Services plans to close the centre where I do my stained glass class.  We are at risk of losing a wonderful workshop space heavily used by people taking classes in jewellery, woodwork, and picture framing as well as the stained glass.
Government policy is geared towards supporting adult learning in accredited classes only and it only wants to support courses that lead directly to employment. Concession rates are being cut making courses much more expensive.  I am concerned that the original aims of adult education and locally based evening classes are being lost, which is so sad.  Learning new skills and crafts is so valuable for peoples’ mental health and wellbeing and the joy and confidence gained is transferable into other areas.  Having exam marks is not the only way to measure the success of a course. My other concern is the loss of access to arts and crafts for people who do not want to study at college or university – they just want to try a new skill in a supportive environment that does not cost too much.  Anyway that is my soapbox topic for today!!
Speaking of arts and craft, I am completing our latest fabric community art project.  Last year my placement was with an organisation that supported the families and friends of prisoners.  Last month I went back there with Chloe, my business partner, to run two collage workshops  for the women and their children.  We all had a wonderful time decorating triangles of colourful fabric to form into bunting.  Now I have to sew them all up and join them together ready to install in mid-May.  It is absolutely delightful to see these woman who have lead such difficult lives sitting together learning to enjoy the colours and textures of the fabric and, after some encouragement, realising that they are artistic  and creative, capable of making something beautiful.  The bunting will be used to cheer up their meeting room and to take out to their outdoor events and will represent all those women who helped to make it. …well time to get back to my sweat shop!!

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