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A year of Friends Around the Table

After a jam-packed year of activity, generously funded by Suffolk Community Foundation, Friends Around the Table is winding down in its current format.

Born out of Artlink’s learning from previous projects Make, Do & Friends and Around the Table, this project has been aimed at reaching family carers and adults living rurally who struggle with loneliness. The best bits of both parent projects were gleaned into Friends Around the Table, resulting in a welcoming, safe and creative offering across the county.

The project explored food, nature and culture as a theme to help individuals re-connect after a long-isolated time with Covid restrictions. Each session focused on creating a welcoming place to enjoy a few restorative hours out from day to day commitments and struggles.

‘It is a constant surprise how much difference it makes to your day – sharing time with other folk in a relaxed and open way – Thanks!’ Stowmarket participant.

Professional artists, chefs and foragers provided many inspiring activities in Stowmarket, Woodbridge, Hadleigh and via Zoom to name a few. If you had walked into any one of the 34 sessions, you would have been instantly welcomed with a cuppa and some very friendly smiles before embarking on a unique creative adventure.

This could have been anything from foraging to making tea infusions, delicious morsels or baskets; exploring tastes and smells, some familiar, others totally novel; grinding kitchen cupboard ingredients into vibrant and non-toxic paint or laughing your socks off all while making a group poem about a sweet shop. The sessions have been diverse, colourful and accessible, but most importantly, they have been joyful spaces that have created connection both with others and with the world around us after a very difficult time.

‘Lovely to share an activity. Went away feeling energised and inspired to do more.’ Woodbridge participant.

As well as bringing the project to key locations, we have spent time sharing the Create resources that were initially made for Make, Do & Friends. These are simple and mindful activities made during the pandemic so that people could enjoy creativity in their own homes, remotely.

Friends Around the Table not only widened the reach of these resources but has also created new ones for people to use at home or in groups to add to the mix, so don’t fret that the project is coming to a close, you can still enjoy activities by visiting our ‘Take part’ page and exploring the simple, step-by-step guides created by professional artists.