When the COVID-19 restrictions commenced, we had such concern for the women at Bonnie’s. In their past, they have often been isolated from their support systems and families due to domestic violence. We didn’t know how they would cope with COVID-19. This prompted us to find new ways to continue our important work.
In normal times, Bonnie’s creative space is held every Tuesday during the school term. However, over the COVID-19 pandemic, the women weren’t able to attend the group.
My coworker Ruth and I began to look at other options to continue running some activities. Maintaining connection was vital to ensure the women felt supported, especially during this period of social isolation. Some of the women have been attending the group for over 4 years and really look forward to this time in their week.
Ruth and I decided to run the group via home visits, or at least doorstep visits.
Each week during the isolation period, the women received an art package. The first week included a large box containing basic art supplies and a suggestion of an art exercise to follow. Ruth and I were aware that the children would also be participating so each pack contained lovely art products that would benefit the whole family.
The image of a bubble was used as this was represented in the media and is a fun image for the families to work around. The weekly questions made reference to what was happening inside the bubble. This allowed for the women and children to express their experience and to document this unusual time in isolation.
The women were then asked to sit down with their children and to use the materials to express what life felt like in their bubble. Most of the women sat with their children and watched as they created artwork with the materials. The women rarely created any work on their own but they expressed that they benefited from sitting with their children each week and creating together.
The women were very excited for us to return each week. Sometimes Ruth and I would chat at length with the women on their doorstep. Sometimes the children would also join in and their mum would show us all their artwork on their phone.
The drop-offs allowed us to put in place further support if required. Some of the women were feeling depressed as their lifestyle had changed so much. Trying to educate their children at home placed a great burden on most of the women.
Many of the women were also concerned about their families and communities overseas as they were hearing first hand of the increased spread of the virus.
As the children began to return to school, Ruth and I provided a nurturing pack for the women as they were just beginning to gain some space for themselves.
The group has since been run in small numbers from Bonnie’s office. The women have shared how much they loved us visiting them in their home environment and how the art materials and visits helped ease the stress of isolation.
The women are now creating their own personalised albums, which will include photos of their families’ artwork and other special moments during COVID-19. It will be a mixed but hopefully positive reminder of the women’s resilience and the moments of joy and connection with their children.
Written by Alison D