Creative practitioners responses: England (CHWA)

A collage made as part of 'holidaying at home' with Make with Meg
Holidaying at Home! Created by Meg Clarke-Bagnall and Ramona Bigwood, and presented in association with Theatre Orchard, Spring 2020

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon


I am one of the artists who has contributed to the Equal Arts Project, ‘Create at Home’. This focuses primarily on the creative needs of elders and has involved the production and publication of a Pack of multi-modal activities. In each section, an artist guides people isolating at home in an activity drawn from their own discipline. Some of these activities are now being transferred into artist-led Zoom workshops for pre-existing creative groups.

Ceinwen's reflections

After the emergence of Covid-19 all my planned work had to be postponed indefinitely or cancelled. This happened relatively early due to two factors:

1. I work mainly with elders (often living in residential or supported living situations) and clearly this group needed protection from transmission.

2. My partner is immunosuppressed and 73 years old and we have therefore had to practice social distancing +++.

I have been practicing as a community arts facilitator for two years and gradually building up experience and reputation. In particular, the year 2019-2020 was encouragingly productive and I was involved in three major projects, in addition to multiple one-off workshops. A great deal of my earnings have been ploughed back into resourcing my work and also paying rent for a small office, (my shared, home accommodation is small, and I need work and storage space). At the point that work stopped, I had already spent money on a future project and my rental commitment is ongoing. It appeared that, if I was going to maintain the potential for continuing to work in the future (post-Covid-19), I was going to have to sustain financial losses. I am unable to access government funds because I was not trading at profit in the period 2018-2019.

My situation has improved slightly, in that I have had the opportunity to contribute to the ‘Create at Home’ project (outlined above), including starting to run Zoom workshops based on the packs. This is very new for me, and an exciting challenge.

I am very worried about the negative effects of isolation and boredom on people in residential settings and in the community and would consider any way to reduce this. Zoom works for some people, but not everyone and I feel that it is going to be some considerable time before this health emergency is resolved.

In terms of my own well-being, I have committed to a daily walk of about three miles and I am trying to use the extra time to read and write. However, sometimes low mood and anxiety in response to this unprecedented situation interferes with my concentration and I am unproductive. On those days, I rely on my exercise routine to maintain some equilibrium.


Ceinwen lives near Newcastle upon Tyne and writes short stories and poetry. She has a professional background in Health and Social Care. She is widely published in online magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook was published in July 2019: ‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], Hedgehog Press. Her first pamphlet is due to be published in 2020. She has been nominated for two significant international prizes, The Pushcart and The Forward Prize, (2019). Post-retirement, she completed an MA in Creative Writing (2017) and is committed to community engagement in arts activities. She believes everyone’s voices count.

Megan Clark-Bagnall


Theatre Orchard

Welcome to Holidaying at Home, your very own sofa surfing adventure through Zoom & the letter box. We invite you to craft this journey however best suits your isolation needs.

Part One is Meg’s Package Holidays, where we ask you to think BIG and act small, by dreaming up your very own dream holiday and crafting it in a miniature format, inside your house.

Part Two is Mona’s Mini Breaks, where we invite you to think small and act BIG. Blow up one little section of your amazing Package Holiday, so you can step inside and taste Utopia on the Horizon.

The project is rounded up with an online Paradise Party, a virtual conga, and lots of things to celebrate, as we acknowledge the journey we’ve taken in arriving one stage closer to paradise.

Megan's and Mona's reflections

As freelance artists, it’s been super hard for us. We lost all of our work overnight, so our main aim for this project was to make it fun for ourselves. And if it works for us, it should work for others too. I think it’s a myth that artists have all the time to be creative during this crisis, simply because the practicalities of survival are so forefront. But viewing the H@H project as a way of setting your own scene, where ever you are, and using imagination and creativity to shape your mood and surroundings has helped us clear the deck of our own brains for a bit, and step away from the crisis and concentrate on the simplicity of holidaying, encouraging us to switch off and re-set.

Everyone needs a little escape right now so it’s been our Top Priority to keep it leisurely and fun with simple briefs & exciting props so it doesn’t feel like “another thing to do” but instead to generate the joy of a holiday count down. The families have embraced the project through crafting mini scenes and many taking it further, through staging a photoshoot in the Alps, creating whole miniature golf courses, painting using stones, crocheting beach scenes, building Lego Donut factories and using stop motion animation to bring it alive. I couldn’t have imagined the scenarios that have played out. It’s been epic. I think everyone is one step closer to Utopia everytime they spend another 20 minutes adding to their little slice of paradise.” - Meg, Meg’s Package Holidays

“If the participants have had even half the amount of fun in taking part in this project as we have had delivering it, then this has been a huge victory for engagement & creativity in the time of a crisis. Theatre Orchard have shown how adaptable and supportive they are towards artists and their community during challenging circumstances, and we’ve loved working with them on this debut project”- Mona, Mona’s Mini Breaks


Megan likes to make fun/ny projects with people. She celebrates the good and the excellent in human nature, to create sincerely feel good art. Megan doesn't make very serious art, but she is very serious about making art. She enjoys smashing together mainstream culture and the art-world to create striking large-scale art installations, performances that tell stories and immersive events.

Ramona is a creative youth worker and professional crafter, making art and jewellery.  She designs & makes large-scale installations, such as her “Surrealist Skyline” for Shambala Festival, in addition to crafting smaller wearable and wall-able art out of reclaimed materials. | @ClarkBagnall | @ramonaevebigwood

Ensemble Hesperi


This project is part of Live Music Now’s programme of live music activities with people living and working in Adult Social Care. This has been interrupted by the Covid-19 Crisis, which resulted in all our in-person work being cancelled from early March, including  an ongoing live music residency in Park Avenue Care Home for older people. As part  of the development of an interim programme of online live music activities for homes across the county the residency was continued using live Zoom sessions, delivering interactive music for the staff and residents, led by the Ensemble Hesperi. A story can be seen here.

Ensemble Hesperi's reflections

As professional musicians, the way we work has completely transformed over the last couple of months as a result of not being able to travel and perform live. When the lockdown was declared, we were half way through a 12-week Live Music Now residency at Park Avenue care centre in Bromley. The project is sponsored by the City Bridge Trust and aims to develop the provision of regular music activities in residential care through empowering care staff to feel more confident in using music in their daily activities. Fortunately, we had built up a great rapport with the staff and residents at Park Avenue, and, as musicians who live together, we were able to continue our weekly sessions on Zoom. Live-streaming participatory music sessions from home has been quite a learning curve, but it has been incredibly rewarding to be able to lift the spirits of the residents and staff during these difficult times. We have had to adapt our approach, planning in more detail, and have had to overcome the fact that we can’t gauge the atmosphere of the room as easily. Despite these challenges, we feel that the sessions are really bringing a smile to the residents and staff. Singing together, using well-known songs and activities, has been a brilliant way of bringing together the whole community. We have been so touched by the dedication and enthusiasm of the staff at Park Avenue, who even recorded their own music video of a song we wrote for them!  During this period, we are so lucky, as we have each other as musical colleagues, our instruments, and our music, but this project has really given us a wonderful opportunity to share our music beyond our own four walls. This, more than anything, has helped us to keep positive and give us hope for the future.


Ensemble Hesperi is a dynamic and innovative Early Music ensemble, dedicated to showcasing the infectious charm and dazzling virtuosity of Scottish Baroque music through imaginative programming and collaboration with other art forms. Recently they were funded by Arts Council England to tour a unique project, “The Pheasant’s Eye”, featuring a Highland dancer. As a duo, Thomas and Mary-Jannet perform regularly for those who have little opportunity to hear live classical music through the scheme ‘Live Music Now’. They also have a strong relationship with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and were honoured to perform at the Tercentenary of the hospital at Westminster Abbey in May 2019.

Janet Fulton


Manchester Camerata

Music in Mind uses improvisation as a tool to encourage people living with dementia to express themselves and communicate with others thorough music, alongside Manchester Camerata musicians and qualified music therapists. Projects take place weekly for 15 weeks in care settings across the North of England.

Improvisation allows people to explore music without restrictions, regain some of the control they might have lost in their lives, and connect with their identity. This can lead to improved mood, communication and social interaction, and in some cases reduced agitation and medication use.

Read more about Music in Mind. Funders include: McClay Dementia Trust, Jigsaw Housing, Henry Smith Foundation, Booths Charities, Zochonis CT.

Janet's reflections

On the Thursday before the lockdown, Manchester Camerata had, through Orchestras Live, ended a project involving eight care and nursing homes, and several schools around Withernsea. At the time of writing this, at least two of the care homes have now got Covid-19, and, tragically, people have died. 

All that type of work has stopped, although I have been trying to keep in touch by card and telephone, I hope for a time when we can go back to help heal through music the trauma that staff and residents have been through. I have only played for the Camerata once since then, when Classical Hacienda was part of the ‘United we Stream’ Hacienda day, and 20 of us recorded 30 minutes of the set to put together from home. Outside the home, literally, I have played at Thursday ‘Carer’s Clap’ in our village, as a thank-you, on keyboard, snare and cajon.  That is the sum total of my music-making in the past couple of months.

Instead, from the Monday of the lockdown, I have been working full time, 6 days a week, at Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) Headquarters in Wakefield,  starting as a NHS111 Covid Service Advisor, but being constantly up-skilled to handle different types of calls too.  Listening is a big part of being a musician, and is so important in this job too, and just as I would probe to enable people to write meaningful lyrics for community pieces, now I am probing to ascertain the complete nature of the illnesses, problems and worries being presented.  Overnight I continue to volunteer as a Community First Responder for the YAS, something I have done for about a decade, and is the reason they could employ me, since I had experience at the sharp end, and had appropriate qualifications.

Thankfully I have moved from being frightened, to a more positive awareness of the responsibility of the job. Sleep can be difficult, and dreams vivid, but the routine of the job helps. I anticipate I will be doing this for quite some time to come.  At the moment, I don’t think of myself as a musician, rather part of a country-wide team, us all working together to do what we can to support each other.


Janet Fulton studied at Huddersfield (where she gained a first-class honours music degree and the prize for Distinction brought to the Institution), and also at the RNCM, where she was awarded a major scholarship and the Advanced Diploma in Music Performance.

For 40 years she has played consistently with all the major Northern orchestras and ensembles and been Manchester Camerata’s Principal Percussionist since the mid-80s.

She plays as a soloist, works as a composer, and is heavily involved with the Camerata in the Community projects, particularly ‘Music in Mind’, for people living with dementia. She also loves working with people with special needs.

In 2019 she was awarded the ABO/RPS Solomon Prize.

Rachel Howfield-Massey


River Runs Deep will engage three communities in an area of multiple deprivation. We are targeting BAMER communities, adults with lived experience of mental ill health and older adults living in care homes.  Funded by Awards for All, we have commissioned a Guide to Nature Connection Indoors and Outdoors, designed by artists and informed by current research (e.g. Five Pathways to Nature Connectedness, University of Derby). Partners are helping us to reach the communities via food parcels and post.

River Holme Connections is passionate about making the river Holme Catchment a better place for people and wildlife.

Rachel's reflections

Covid-19 has had positive and negative effects on my practice. Initially it was hard as I lost work and projects were cancelled, in particular conversations with two National Trust properties. The projects had not been agreed or finalised but I was hopeful that I’d be working with them over the summer.

This gave me time to follow up other ideas that I’d been thinking about for a long time. I have been able to experiment with different ways to support housebound people to connect with nature, inspired by emerging evidence that there are clinically significant benefits from connecting with nature on a screen or image. I’ve had time to explore a few different approaches to making nature connection videos. I’ve also refined my ideas for a nature connection resource for urban settings and I’m considering crowdfunding to get it published.

River Runs Deep has unexpectedly offered the opportunity to develop a printed resource for isolated people who can not leave their home or travel far.

The original project comprised a programme of workshops and events in community settings and by the river. 

The revised project idea did not emerge easily – initially I talked to partners about digital alternatives to workshops. S2R (mental health charity) were piloting a digital workshop approach and suggested that it wasn’t reaching everyone and people weren’t interacting much. Thornton Lodge Action Group were too busy with food parcels to support a new digital project – this is when the idea of a printed resource started to emerge.

Artist Alice Bradshaw was originally commissioned to lead the workshops - now we are collaborating more closely. She has designed the visual elements of the guide, I’ve led on the content. We’ve never worked together before and sometimes communication is challenging – holding diagrams up to the camera during zoom meetings, sending videos to explain ideas, lots of emails/phone calls – all with the backdrop of working from home with families and life challenges to contend with.

I think it’s helped us both to have something positive to work on together –we both agreed at the beginning that we would not put any pressure on each other, we would work on it whenever we could and it would be finished whenever it was finished. We took the view that many people are going to feel isolated for a long time so we didn’t need to put ourselves under extra pressure to do a whole new project in record time.

The guide will go into circulation soon, in time for inclusion in Eid Campaign food parcels.


Rachel Howfield Massey is an artist working across several disciplines to explore the benefits of connecting with nature through walking, meditation, fieldcraft, ecotherapy, tracking, collecting, drawing. Her current project Other Ways to Walk, comprises events, commissions, resources and artworks.

Rachel plays an active role in the field of Arts and Wellbeing, currently representing East Midlands as CHWA regional champion. She is a member of RSPH Arts and Wellbeing Special Interest Group. She is a qualified Mindfulness Instructor and Forest Bathing Guide.

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