Group activities involving crafts for men can be hard to find on a tight budget, and the majority of craft supplies out there are flowery, feminine and cute. This hasn't stopped our guys though - there's been nobody more surprised than me at how readily these young men - living in temporary supported housing because they are officially 'homeless' - have embraced card making and papercrafts!
I cautiously introduced the idea of relaxing 'adult' colouring, not knowing how these young guys would react to the idea of colouring in...but it went down so well the donated colouring book and pens were borrowed at the end of the evening, two sessions in a row!
Keep Calm and Do Some Colouring!
We had a bit of a tense situation at one point, and one of the guys colouring said he was trying to stay calm and "not get stressed" by doing his picture, which he then took back to his room to finish.
When you look at these guys you would not have expected them to sit in a room with other guys, colouring in. This has really surprised me but leads me to think relaxing colouring sessions might be a good thing to try: just pens, pages, ambient lighting and chat.
The power of chatting through a group activity shouldn't be underestimated; people are distracted so they open up, conversations start and you get valuable insight to how others think and behave, how to deal with others, letting others speak, discussing your issues - one chap didn't have a pan to cook with (why would he, he was a rough sleeper) so the staff member who was coordinating the session sorted him out, just like that. If he wasn't there, hadn't spoken, he'd still be without a pan.
Craft Supplies for Men
We've had lots of support from people donating 'man' stuff, including decoupage, collage sheets and papers in male themes and colour schemes. These have proven popular each week as certain members of the group have found they quite enjoy making die-cut decoupage or pyramage cards...and they're getting very good at it!
Sadly, some don't have anyone to give them to, so we are getting quite a collection. The guy who made these wants them to be sold for the good of the others.
The Downside to Getting Good at Card Making
One chap grew in confidence and was proud of his newfound card making abilities, saying that he started out rubbish (he didn't) and now he's got "card making skills!"
He knew exactly what he wanted to make in this session, and spent time planning and seeking out the right images and supplies for the message he wanted to convey.
He's a perfectionist and always wants to do the best job he can, getting frustrated at times, especially now he's "known for card making skills" so it has to be good...feeling there's not enough time in the 2 hour class to do the best job he can while battling sticky 3d foam pads that get all over and mess things up, but it usually settles down with time and as you can see, in the end, he was proud of this card too.
He wanted to give it to someone important to him, that he's known a long time and who has supported him through his life so it was important to make a great card for her - he said he'd been "waiting all day" for the craft class, having told his family of his new-found craft skills!
Frustration is clearly not what we want, but it does show that he cares about what he's doing, the people he's making a card for, and it's important to him that he does a good job - which can't be faulted.
It's also an opportunity to learn to deal with frustration, not walking out, not throwing everything everywhere, working it out in your head and not getting overly angry - this is important, want to finish it, need to calm it down...
It was a bit tense but I just kept sticking tape to the back of things, peeling off the backing and leaving them on the table for him to continue with when he felt ready, which he did pretty quickly. These are the proud moments.
Sometimes things do kick off in these sessions, and there can be heated exchanges, but apologies are usually quick to follow, which I'm always impressed by.
Every Little Helps
I'm not saying that our little craft classes are major lessons in anger management, but each time you don't give in to those emotions, it's one more "I managed it" moment and they all add up.
I had one chap tell me about the coping strategies he uses to not get into trouble, because just one outburst can change your life and he doesn't want to repeat mistakes he's made. It's hard not to react, to not punch someone in the face when they are purposely taunting you, to keep on the straight and narrow...but when you do, when you can control it and keep your nose clean, it makes you the bigger, stronger person - even if it doesn't feel like it at the time - and then people see you are trying your best, so they are willing to help you and it opens up opportunities for good things come your way.
Craft Volunteer Opportunities
Speaking of good things and opportunities - it was an achievement to take this photo because the person in it hates having their picture taken, but they've come to the classes consistently and, I like to think, have grown a bit in confidence to at least be willing to be in the shot!
They are holding up a flyer about Volunteer Opportunities - volunteering your time for anything means you benefit yourself and those you are supporting. Crafting4Good CIC hopes to provide volunteering opportunities as it develops, both in the community and to help us with administration, online and off.