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THANK YOU KEY WORKERS: Free activity packs by Leeds-based Artists for Local Schools during Lockdown.

At the start of this year us Grafters seemed to have everything set into place for our projects and what we wanted to achieve. But as you’re all aware by the end of March the whole of the U.K. went into lockdown leaving a lot of companies and workers in the creative industries in limbo.

Only a week into lockdown, we found out our funding to start three of our projects had been placed on hold. At this point myself and the rest of the grafters began to wonder when this will all be over so we could just get back to ‘normal’.

As the days and weeks have past we began to come to terms with the idea that ‘normal’ wasn’t coming any time soon, and we could either take this time to rest, wait for this to all blow over or we take this as an opportunity to engage with emerging artist and making sure that communities are still getting the opportunity to create, explore and have fun during these difficult times.

“I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by creative people and even call them my friends, some who are key workers and some who are still meeting their deadlines for their degree. Whilst in lockdown I have kept in touch with them to see how they are getting on. Their positivity, kindness and compassion is what this whole country needs to get us through this. So I asked if they would be willing to share their attitudes and creativity to their community, without any hesitation they said ‘YES!” to what they could offer to their local area.”

Liam Robbins, Artistic Director 2020/21

Megan Atkinson (Project Manager) is a key worker at a local primary school, caring for the children of other key workers. She has explained to us that this is a difficult time to process for young children, especially those whose parents are key workers, not having a clear understanding of what is going on or why they can’t see their friends or attend their school. As we all know, when you’re a child, school and friendship play a huge role in your life at that age.

We started networking with Megan and Leeds-based artists Clara Atkinson, Ellie Harrington and Ellie Huddlestone with the idea of creating an activity pack where the children can do word searches, maze puzzles and colour in illustrations of key workers to keep them entertained.

This project will show schools and those caring for our children know that people in their communities care, and recognise the hard Graft they are all achieving during this difficult time. Something, no matter how small, made by local artists who care for the people in their area, makes a huge difference in people’s lives and wellbeing.

These artists have created these activities voluntary whilst still working or meeting deadlines for university. We haven’t tried to receive funding, instead we have all put our heads down and worked. We have had phone calls, meeting on zoom and sent work back and forth to each other this week making sure that we deliver the best we can. Hard graft and collaboration!

We have completed activities for these young children, and will be sent to primary schools soon.

We don’t want to stop there, so we will be placing these activity sheets on our social media pages so that parents and carers can download these activity sheets to print at home. This project is been done for free, as a thank you to our community, but we will be asking anyone who does download these packs to make a small donation to a local charity currently working to help others during this crisis.

We would like to end this message by saying once this is over we shall continue our hard work to engage and create work with communities in Leeds. We will see you all face to face soon, in the meantime, keep active, stay safe everyone and make sure to follow us Facebook and Twitter.

If you would like the activity pack to be sent to your place of work, please email us via the contact page from the menu above.

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Published by graftcollaborativecic

Graft Collaborative is a non-profit Community Interest Company established to support emerging creative practitioners from a range of artistic and performative disciplines through the development of engaging projects involving Leeds-based communities to highlight and engage residents with important social issues. This will be achieved by creating and developing opportunities for communities to engage and participate in artistic projects from emerging artistic and performative practitioners.

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