Reawaken your lust for life

Yvette Crossman was widowed four years ago, and when her son went travelling, she found herself struggling with isolation. Now, an Arts & Crafts course gets her out the front door and into a group of kindred spirits. The old Yvette is coming back!  

Living alone was a terrible shock, as I’m a very sociable person. Isolation can snowball very quickly, and I started to become a recluse. Rock bottom came when I went nine days without talking with another human being. I had to do something about it. 

A friend shared a link to a WEA course in Braintree. I’d always loved art, so I thought this was something I could do. It’s a warm, friendly group. I’ve learned to knit, I’ve made two pieces of art, and I feel a valued part of the group. Donna, my tutor, is incredibly welcoming and supportive. 

Human interaction makes such a difference. It lifts you up. I’ve laughed so much in the art group. I don’t think half of them realise just how funny they are. The course lends itself to chatting, and I love hearing everybody’s stories and their plans for the weekend. 

My fellow students have different levels of disability. I walk with a crutch, which everybody there can relate to. I don’t need to explain myself. They are very accepting and see me as me. 

The class forces me to go out. It has proved such a confidence booster, to the extent that I have volunteered with the Girl Guides – something I would never have done before joining the WEA. I’ve helped others with their art, and this has made me realise that I could do something more with my life and give back in different ways. 

I would like to get a job. There are so few available, especially when employers see you are disabled. But now I feel more upbeat. I can demonstrate how active I am in many different ways. 

I’d say the course has re-awoken my confidence, and also my creativity. Everyone wants to feel special, especially when you live alone. When others know your name and say ‘how are you doing?’ or ‘see you next week’, it’s a simple gesture, but it’s also really uplifting. 

Once people learn you’re a widow or disabled, they can feel awkward or sorry for you. On my course, I’m just Yvette. I feel like an individual. My son is incredibly proud of what I’m achieving. When we last Facetimed, he was amazed that I was knitting. He can see the changes in me: that I’m enjoying myself, making new friends and acquiring new skills. 

If my story can inspire just one person who is feeling isolated to get out the door and reawaken their lust for life, then that would be amazing. The WEA is definitely a good place to start. 

 

My fellow students have different levels of disability. I walk with a crutch, which everybody there can relate to. I don’t need to explain myself. They are very accepting and see me as me.

Yvette

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