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Updated: May 23, 2023

By Ciara Leeming

I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know possible participants and learning as much as I can about their lives and how the pandemic has affected them.

Staff at Irish Community Care have been really supportive and have introduced me to some of the people they are working with – largely in the Ellesmere

Port and Winsford areas. They also linked me up with a brilliant school where I ran weekly art sessions with a year five pupil in early 2023. I also had a few introductions to possible collaborators from a friend who is part of the Traveller community. Some connections haven’t worked out for various reasons but, along the way, I’ve decided to focus my attention on women.

My process has been to visit people in their homes and get to know them gradually – often over numerous cups of tea. Some are elderly or suffer from poor health and several live alone and feel quite socially isolated as a result. I am mindful of people’s vulnerabilities and personal circumstances – sometimes my visits get cancelled at short notice. That is part and parcel of working in this way and I am learning to be patient.

Once I’ve met individuals a few times and they understand what I’m doing and are happy to get involved, I’ve recorded a conversation. I go away and transcribe these, reflect on what I believe are interesting sections and take them back to the person for further discussion – this sometimes elicits further stories. Portraits will be the next stage – watch this space!

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