When Jane Fletcher wrote to us about how Covid has brought out a ‘can do’ attitude in so many of us, we were fascinated with her own story. We think you will find it very interesting too…
As I approach my 60th birthday this year and the prospect of a very low key event, I am comforted by the fact that I’ve finally worked out what I’m meant to be doing with my life (not in any small way thanks to the pandemic!).
After a career in retail, including eating cake as a buyer for Waitrose, followed by years of business consultancy, I was left feeling a little empty. Cutting a long story short, a hobby of making ‘art’ for myself and then commissions for friends, ended up in me being invited to display my work in NHS hospitals. The positive feedback from both patients and staff led me to form The Art of Giving Community Interest Company in 2018.
The ‘art’ is of the non-drawing or painting kind; I’m inspired by everyday objects – often vintage – which I’ve collected over the years. The objects are then photographed and a few words added about life and, where possible, a dash of British humour. My art has really resonated with people, especially with those working in challenging environments such as hospitals.
My framed art can be found in many places around the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, plus I had a number of new projects in the pipeline until Covid came along and put everything on hold.
There have been lots of great examples of how Covid has brought out a ‘can do’ attitude in so many of us women over 50. For me it meant taking my picture production ‘in house’, buying a laminating machine and producing A3 motivational posters which could then be sent all over the UK. The packs contain 12 different images complete with Blu Tack for instant use. In the first 6 months I posted out over 2000 images to staff in Hospitals, Care Homes and Charities to cheer up their staff spaces with positive messages and as a reminder of our gratitude to these very important people.
I was nominated and then shortlisted for the Daily Telegraph Lockdown Awards 2020 which was lovely and most unexpected. I have also been truly overwhelmed by the feedback from key workers and here are just a few examples:
‘I would like to thank you for the amazing artwork that you donated to us. Sometimes it is very easy to forget to look after ourselves whilst looking after others and this visual reminder is so much more effective than words alone.’ (Emergency Department Nurse)
‘You are never far from my mind, not least because I now see your work in most rooms here in the Hospice and because of how much joy they bring everyone.’
‘We are so pleased to have these wonderful pictures. These have been a massive morale boost during these unprecedented times to any Care Giver that has visited the office and to the staff still working. Everyone has commented on how brilliant they are, they really have put a smile on everyone’s face. Thank you for these fabulous and creative pictures,’ (In Home Care Provider Support Manager)
The positive feedback has really spurred me on to continue to make more posters and to also reach out to other sectors. For example, I’ve sent packs for staff areas at Women’s Refuge Centres and recently to GP Practices and Primary Schools. I have a portfolio of images and messages so I can adjust which are most appropriate to suit the people and the spaces.
I rely on funding, mostly from donations (there are no salaries or dividends taken). I also give people the option to sponsor and nominate where they would like a pack to be sent, which is a lovely way for them to say thank you to a specific place such as a Care Home or Hospital Ward.
With so many great causes to support with my art, I’m constantly thinking of ways to raise money. This year I’m launching some one hour online talks in February when I’ll be sharing some ideas and tips to help you make the most of the memories and ‘stuff’ that we all have in our homes – often hidden in the loft, garage or a drawer! Many of us have been clearing and sorting stuff recently so this is an ideal time to get creative.
This pandemic has taught me to be more resourceful and certainly less of a perfectionist and, thanks to my laminating machine and packs of Blu Tack, my images are now reaching more people as they don’t need to be perfectly mounted and framed to get the message across in these exceptional times!
I hope that my story has inspired you in some way and if you want to help or support my work it would be lovely to hear from you.
Jane continues to remain busy sending out her art to key workers including packs to Vaccination Clinics . If you’d like to visit her website, The Art of Giving, click here.
Lots more interesting stories to read here