Embracing lockdown with art and socialising online

Bruce loves to paint and lockdown has given him the opportunity to reflect on what’s important to him in life:

“I enjoy drawing pictures of animals, landscapes and portraits, I find it relaxes me and if I’m creating art with friends we chat and it is sociable; I really enjoy it”, he said.

Bruce painted this picture of his dog, Bramble.

51-year-old Bruce has shared some of his artwork and won a prize for his entry in the`People first’ Dorset newsletter. He also attends the Dimensions’ `Staying in touch’ online art club every week.

Not just an artist

But it is not only his art that has kept him busy; Bruce is a quality consultant and he is also a member of the Discovery council. He has a learning disability and autism and is involved in the family working group which meets online. Bruce is always keen to be involved and share his views. He has contributed to developing the Families’ PATH and charter.’

Family Consultant Jess Heslop says: “Bruce always arrived to every meeting ready to contribute great ideas. He has some wonderful stories about his life which were interesting to listen to. He is very positive. I really enjoyed having Bruce as part of the team, he is a valued member of the working group.”

New ways to socialise

Bruce is a very sociable person and loves nothing more than being out and about meeting new people or being with his group of friends. It was hard for Bruce to face the idea of not being able to do this and it was more difficult as time went on.

But as Bruce gained more confidence at online meetings, he signed up to attend `Staying in touch’ clubs where he developed his skills with support from his parents. But now he joins the video calls and interacts independently.

Bruce is always up for a new challenge and will always volunteer to get involved with projects with enthusiasm and commitment, especially if it involves meeting new people. He is well placed to host some online sessions being set up by his outreach service to connect friends that haven’t been able to see each other.

Beccy Simmonds, Involvement and Engagement advisor at Discovery, says: “Bruce is sociable and fearless. I have never seen him feel nervous about anything and he showed this by chatting easily on a live community radio interview about himself and living and working in the local area. Bruce is also a keen actor and performs regularly with the Enterprise Players drama group in Frome.”

Learning new skills

Bruce had been training and preparing to deliver a section of the colleague induction in his role as Quality Consultant. The lockdown meant all the sessions had to be transferred online, changing the programme content. Bruce was able to adapt to this by contributing a video clip of his top tips, which is now seen by all new colleagues.

Chorley, Learning and development facilitator, says: “Bruce is someone who always steps up for a challenge. He has a wealth of experience which he shares to help others learn, but he is equally happy to listen and learn from you.”

Jill Parker worked with Bruce as the Involvement and Engagement lead at Discovery. She sums up Bruce’s year: “Bruce has completed the`Learning to Lead’ course and has become a member of the Discovery council. He is always eager to contribute and, with his dog Bramble, has been a regular member of our on-line meetings during lockdown.”

How does it feel to win?