A helping hand – National Carers Week blog

Last Wednesday I decided to make cowboy pie for tea. I’d heard it mentioned on the Chris Evan’s breakfast show not so long back and had thought about it, quite possibly more than normal, since then.

Work finished for the day, ingredients sorted, tummy rumbling.

Popping it into the oven I decided to nip the dogs round the block for a quick walk while it cooked, and that’s when the day fell out of my hands.

I’ve owned (or been owned by) rescue greyhounds since 2007 and I’m now on my third (Mabel) and fourth (Storm). Sid and Betty having passed away over the last few years.

Four bears collage

Walking back up the side entry to get to our house, the usually laid back bears spotted a fast moving cat before I did. About 10 seconds later I was halfway further up the path, on the floor.

Looking down I knew things were not quite right, but holding on to the dogs had been my number one priority. That cat owes me big time. I managed to get up, get in the house and collapse on the sofa. I knew I needed to take a look inside my boot. Ouch. My left ankle was already twice the size and a bit of an odd shape.

Two very kind friends, Jill and Ian helped me out of the house and down to A & E where I found out my ankle wasn’t broken, but sprained very badly. Dispatched about midnight with crutches and strong painkillers my lovely Mum very kindly picked me up and got me home.

That was a week ago, my leg looks like Shrek’s from below the ankle and I’ve not been able to put any weight on my foot yet or go anywhere near the crutches. Luckily with the wonders of the internet I’ve been able to work from my bed, with Mabel and Storm admiring their handy work in amongst snoozes.

Thinking takes up a good percentage of most of my days, but there’s been room for a bit more the last week and my ‘unfortunate incident’ has made me reflect on National Carers Week.

Carers Week is an annual event, running 6 – 12 June in 2016. The campaign aims to ‘raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.’

Another line from the Carers Week website really struck a chord with me over the last week. ‘Every day, 6,000 people become carers. Many don’t know how or where to get help. For some, caring comes suddenly: someone you love is taken ill or has an accident,…’ Well, that was me. One minute making tea and the next under an X Ray machine.

My Mum dropped everything and came to the rescue. She’s stayed with me and helped do all the things I couldn’t, in amongst a full time job of her own. I don’t know what I would’ve done otherwise and I am incredibly grateful. This is going to be short term (apart from the life long caring role of a Mum!) but reading through other blogs and statistics by carers or those being cared for, it’s clear the role played by all those giving a helping hand is enormous and a focused week long Carers Week campaign is a great way to keep raising awareness of the role and the support carers we can’t do without.

In amongst skidding down alleyways and rescuing hounds, I run a very small Arts and Health social enterprise called Beauty and Utility Arts where we develop and manage creative projects and products with social benefits.

At the moment we have a live crowdfunding campaign for a creative dementia product we are developing called A Book of Me, a creative, portable A5 resource for people living with a dementia and all those supporting them. A Book of Me will include: beautifully designed sections for entering life stories, spaces to make notes before, during and after appointments, information about UK organisations offering support and positive hints, tips and quotes on living well with a dementia.

If you get a minute to look and would like to support us, that would be fantastic.

Oh, are the dogs feeling remorseful and looking after me? Well, sort of. It’s a 15 minute return journey to the bathroom and one of them is always keeping my space warm when I get back. Oh, and who doesn’t watch Netflix through the back legs of a greyhound?



Best wishes/ttfn Katherine

Onwards …


Great ideas and projects happen at the right time for the right reasons.

I’m a firm believer in that, although starting out back in 2010 I wanted everything to happen straight away … now please!

The two sets of cards in this photo represent the next phase in a truly rewarding project for Beauty and Utility Arts and now feels like just the right time to reignite our work and get excited again.

It won’t be long before we tell you more, so you know what they say … watch this space.

Rikke Digerud-Waring – Arts and Dementia

Peg collage x 3

Rikke is a Leicestershire artist Beauty and Utility Arts have worked with on a number of projects and she has very kindly donated two pieces of her own dementia themed artwork, which now sit outside our Atkins Building office in Hinckley. You can drop by and see Rikke’s artwork any time the Atkins building is open.

In Rikke’s own words …

My artwork is often inspired by the human conditions and related to memory, culture and diversity.

I like to take real, everyday objects and transform them into something extraordinary.

This work was created just after my mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia.

I wanted the work to be a tribute to her but also to other people who have been affected by dementia so they could identify with the symptoms.


The last time she stayed with us, before going into a home, Peg would ask again and again what day it was. We would tell her and then a few minutes later she would ask again and get them mixed up. She loved flowers and always tended them with care. The decayed orchids symbolize the decay of memory but are also quite beautiful and poignant in themselves. Just like memory.


Again connecting Peg with flowers, the daisies symbolizes how her memory went “on and off”, bit by bit and in the end she did not remember who I was. A profound moment in any relationship.

‘A Book of Me’ – soft launch

Yesterday we soft launched our resource produced for borough residents recently diagnosed with dementia.

By Katherine Brown
May 21st 2014

Beauty and Utility Arts have been commissioned by The Hinckley and Bosworth Health and Wellbeing Partnership to develop a dementia resource for residents of Hinckley and Bosworth. After working with and listening to individuals and organisations across the area ‘A Book Of Me’ has been produced and will be offered to people after a recent diagnosis of dementia later on this year. The folder is a place to store and find relevant information together with sections designed to stimulate conversation and memories.

Katherine Brown, Director of Beauty and Utility Arts “This week is National Dementia Awareness Week and we wanted to let local people know about the resource we have been designing. A Book of Me has been very well received during its development stages and we are looking forward to launching it fully later on this Summer.”

Simon Jones, Health Lead at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council said “The Hinckley and Bosworth Health and Wellbeing Partnership have commissioned this folder as part of its work to provide the best health information and guidance to people in the borough. Working in partnership with Beauty and Utility Arts we intend that this book will become integral to the support package enabling people to live well with Dementia.”

The photo shows us holding the resource in front of some of intergenerational work at an awareness event yesterday with l – r Howard Wilkins – Dementia Champion, Katherine Brown -Director of Beauty and Utility Arts, Juanita Vogel – contributor, Lindsay Orton Locality Mental Health Strategic Co-ordinator at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Dementia and Hinckley & Bosworth event

 Beauty and Utility Arts have been commissioned by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council to develop a person centred, dementia focussed, booklet/ring bound folder. This will sit with the county Dementia Care Pathway leaflets currently being completed and the work of The Alzheimer’s Society within our area.

Our aim is to create something creative, useful and informative for Borough residents looking for a way of keeping track of local information and their own journey. The consultation event on 8th October will determine the content, but we envisage it will contain local stories, space for notes taken at and prior to GP appointments and plenty of room for personal journals. All of which will be useful for the individual, their carers or supporters and appointments with doctors etc.



Tuesday 8th October 2013      9 am – 1.45pm

Atkins Building, Lower Bond Street, Hinckley, LE10 1QU


o Attend a Dementia Friends’ information session to learn more about dementia

o Help us develop a personal or personalised dementia focused information folder for Hinckley and Bosworth residents.

o Take part in a Knowledge Café event sharing ideas, insights and thoughts in small groups throughout the day.

o Step inside a pub style Memory Pod, thanks to Voluntary Action South Leicestershire and Seven Lock’s Housing Memory Lane project.

Light lunch provided


For further details and to secure your place, please email Katherine Brown at beautyandutilityarts@hotmail.co.uk with the subject headline October 8th or call on (07908) 750187

Working with: Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, Changing Minds, The Alzheimer’s Society, VASL.



Guest blog for Gill Phillips, creator of Whose Shoes?

I was very honoured to write a guest blog post for Gill Phillips this week about the intergenerational arts project we’ve just celebrated in Lutterworth and I hope you like it too.

In the shoes of … Katherine Brown | Arts and Health Project Manager | Beauty and Utility Arts.

Below are a few photos from the celebratory event we held on 15th August and a couple more photos from the workshops….enjoy.

Making mosaics …

Crikey, where did last week go to?

We’re nearing the end of our planned sessions at an extra care scheme in Lutterworth now and the group is really starting to find their confidence again around producing artwork and just having a go.

On Wednesday Winsome Ruddock and I worked on mosaics based on themes each individual had talked to us about as part of our reminiscence discussions, so we had birds, a lion, flowers and architecture.

One major challenge for us as facilitators has been thinking about tasks that individuals with poor hearing, eyesight and dexterity can feel comfortable with and mosaic work was very successful in this repect.

Did we learn any lessons from last week’s session? Yes …. don’t eat cake over your mosaic when the glue is still wet ;0)

Here are a few pictures of the group concentrating immensely!