YOU may recall in our December 2019 issue I spent time with Cathy Sara, Director of local charity, Kairos Arts. Totally in awe of the worthwhile work Kairos Arts had been doing I signed on the dotted line to complete the training and join the dedicated throng of local Kairos Arts Practitioners; sadly our training, several weeks in, was put on hold. Wanting to know how the charity has coped with lockdown, I asked Wendy Jenkins, the charity’s Communications Director, for an update…Juanita Shield-Laignel

Wendy replied…“Lockdown has presented some challenges but some incredible opportunities for Kairos Arts. Though deeply saddened that we haven’t been able to run our normal programmes with Jersey Women’s Refuge and our monthly workshops for people living with dementia, we have endeavored to keep true to our Kairos identity, using our creative gifts and therapeutic training ‘for such a time as this.’

Towards the beginning of lockdown, we realised that people were feeling overwhelmed by the new restraints placed on their lives, by having the new challenge of juggling work and homeschooling, of being totally isolated from friends and family and by the constant bombardment of media updates on Covid19 statistics. If ever the arts had a part to play in speaking into this shocking new normal, it was then. We created ‘40 Days of Creative Adventure’ where we invited people on Instagram and Facebook to take up our chosen daily ten minute creative task. We incorporated all the arts – from dancing to singing, to modelling, to signing, to painting…the list goes on. We knew that not all activities would connect with everyone, but even if they just sparked an idea, encouraged one person to step out into creative pursuit, or found a way to process concerns and anxiety around Coronavirus then it was worthwhile.

Another impact of the global pandemic was the blow of having our annual fundraiser cancelled due to Lockdown. Not to be disheartened, we organised an online, ‘40 Minute Festival of Creativity’ where we celebrated all of the arts with contributions from very talent local individuals and groups including music from Musical Originals, Sarah and Gerard Le Feuvre and Liz Shea along with her children, Josh and Esther. The purpose wasn’t to raise funds – we are a small enough charity to survive the economic downturn – but to enable people to enjoy a very engaging and eclectic celebration of the arts.

Following a biblical ‘40 day’ theme, the Kairos Community then embarked on a running challenge. A group of us pledged to run 40km over 8 days to raise funds for our partners in Bolivia and India who run Freedom Businesses for people who have been trafficked or who are emerging from the sex trade. Employees in these companies have been profoundly effected during lockdown as businesses have been forced to shut down. We wanted to ensure these precious, vulnerable individuals would still be able to take home a salary during this time of economic upheaval. We were delighted to raise £1,410.00 and so grateful for so many people’s generous contributions.

As current restrictions begin to ease here in Jersey, we are thrilled to start planning our workshops for the autumn term. We are currently preparing a six week programme for year 10 and 11 girls from Beaulieu School requiring support with anxiety, stress and low self-esteem issues. This is an exciting new chapter for the charity as we develop our schools’ work.

As we emerge from ‘these strange times,’ and our programmes recommence, we know that our therapeutic arts workshops will, as ever, play an intrinsically vital role in allowing people to understand, process and find comfort and resilience in all that they discover about themselves and the world we inhabit.”

I was so thrilled to hear the charity has navigated these difficult times with sensitivity and an ongoing desire to help the local community and also manage their international commitments.

Thank you Wendy for sharing the Kairos Arts news…