When coronavirus began East Durham Creates had to adjust many of our original programme plans including delivering face-to-face workshops with people in the community. Instead, we worked together with East Durham Trust and their referrers to create a monthly arty pack which included all the materials as well as a worksheet to do arts and crafts activities.  Some of the packs went alongside meals provided thanks to funding from our Consortium partners East Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP) and the rest directly to people’s door.

The first week our arty packs were inspired by our Above, Below, Beyond project and asked people to draw inspiration from this major commission with artist Jamie Holman and their local heritage which means most of our towns and villages have a few of these – Miners Banners! They were asked to work together to create their own mini Miners Banners and we especially wanted them to think about what they were looking forward to most once Coronavirus was over and everywhere was opened up again.


Want to have a go of making your own? You can download the worksheet here. All you need to make your own is felt, scissors, sticky pads, and a stick!

Our second week of arty packs went out to almost 120 people in households across East Durham! We noticed an increase in older people requesting arty packs as they were feeling the effects of the isolation and loneliness of lockdown, and we hoped that the arty packs might offer a little respite.  We took the opportunity alongside handing out the arty packs to highlight the other ways in which vulnerable people can get support from our lead organisation, East Durham Trust, with things like shopping, prescription collection and chit-chat telephone calls. Throughout the first month of launching our arty packs, the focus was all about mini-miners banners and exploring what people are looking forward to when they get back out there and it was incredible to see such a wide range of creative outpourings from the community!


The following month our arty packs were inspired by Grayson Perry who encouraged the nation to get creative with his Art Club on Channel 4 every Monday night (still available on All 4). Grayson Perry is well known for his pottery pieces, and so our creative packs included bits and pieces to make your very own pottery.

We really wanted the arty packs to be accessible to our entire community, and not require excess materials to get involved. So we were particularly pleased with our Arty Pack which was created working with artist Diane Watson. Diane designed an arty pack centred upon using rubbish/plastic to create gifts that connect with others. 200 of these packs were distributed via two Cultural Hubs.  We also were able to facilitate a physical drop-in session with Diane as we wanted to ensure everyone had an opportunity to take part in the activities.  The arty packs offered guidance on using ‘rubbish’ to make collages and cards for others in the community with messages of hope and kindness for those who might be feeling lonely or isolated.  We had recognised in our past projects that acts of kindness to our neighbours and community can also help the person ‘doing’ to feel more positive and connected, so it was an all-round win for the entire community.