Art and communication in the pandemic


Left: David Sparrow, Right: Group video chat on Zoom

Art Beyond Belief (ABB) delivers digital arts-based courses on computers and iPads to their clients from a wide range of different backgrounds.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of their clients told them how much they dreaded the lockdown and the resulting social isolation. They also stressed how much they would miss the social contact and creativity they have found within their groups and support from group leaders David Sparrow and Emel Soylu.

ABB has loaned each of their clients an iPad so that they can carry on with their artistic journey during the lockdown.

Physical meetings have been replaced with regular group video chats on Zoom, and WhatsApp group discussions, and clients know that David or Emel are at the end of the phone if they need further assistance.

Art Beyond Belief has four volunteers currently supporting the team, including providing technical help for remote connections and assisting with learning, and making the most of new apps

Emel said, “The pandemic has increased our understanding of the individual as a resource in our community’s preparedness efforts, and not as an object or a problem. Our volunteers are doing an outstanding job of making others feel valued and in doing so, they are finding extra value in and for themselves.

“David is a professional photographer and I am a psychologist, both of us responsible for developing and delivering programmes at Art Beyond Belief. We are part of One Slough Community Response Team, and as volunteers with Slough Faith Partnership, are also responsible for liaison between the Team and faith and other communities.

“As further issues come to light as a result of isolation, confusion, and fear of an uncertain future, having the means to come together and problem solve as a group becomes ever more important, and it is this engagement that Art Beyond Belief works to enable.”