OASIS is our pilot project created to ease social isolation and loneliness at home by connecting participants with new art, creative activities, and communities of like-minded people.

Beginning in early 2022, the OASIS project aims to place meaningful artworks, specially produced by artists for individuals, directly into people’s homes and to enable eligible participants to make new social connections through a range of guided conversations and group activities.

Initially launching in the Guildford and Waverley area, OASIS is a way for people battling with social isolation and loneliness to get together to explore new creative and cultural experiences, while lending a supportive ear or offering advice to others experiencing similar struggles.

Loneliness and social isolation are growing public health concerns in our ageing society. 50% of people over 60 are at risk of social isolation and one-third will experience loneliness later in life.1 Research shows that loneliness is associated with poorer physical and mental health amongst older people. In particular, loneliness is associated with depression, and older people with a high degree of loneliness are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those with a low degree of loneliness.2

The first OASIS group outing to try some sketching

Joanna Brendon MBE, the founder of the initiative who brought the concept of OASIS (Original Art for the Socially Isolated) to Paintings in Hospitals, knows the struggle people face in isolation from her own complex health challenges. Joanna said:

I’m an all-too-frequent visitor to hospital. Initially, it was here where I discovered the work of Paintings in Hospitals. Coming home, I realised how fortunate I am to be surrounded by art, including my own, the creating of which is hugely important to my wellbeing. This led me to think that, while patients benefit from art in hospital, it is those isolated at home who really suffer from the lack of it, whether to soothe or stimulate.

This isolation pre-existed the pandemic but the virus shone a spotlight on it and exacerbated the problem for vulnerable people: people with chronic, and sometimes terminal, illnesses who don’t often visit hospitals as there is nothing there to improve their clinical experience or outcome.

I’m in my mid-seventies, and still regard myself as very much alive, but I am realistic about my health conditions, so it was very important that whatever I set up was sustainable. Paintings in Hospitals has an exemplary reputation and seem to be the ideal organisation to take OASIS forward.

OASIS art homework: drawing ducks with a non-dominant hand

To deliver the OASIS pilot project, Paintings in Hospitals has partnered with Reconnections by Independent Age. Reconnections support over 65s who feel lonely or isolated. People want to connect in a variety of ways and the team listen to each individual and work with them to find new opportunities and rekindle a love of life. Whether it’s discovering disco, bonding over bonsai, absorbing art, or forming friendships. OASIS will be launched with the Guildford and Waverley team and will bring participants together over a shared love of creativity.

Janette Powell, Reconnections pilots lead, said:

The whole concept of OASIS is so exciting as it fits beautifully with our approach of connecting people with what matters to them as an individual. We know that art can bring comfort, joy, inspiration, or a chance to lose oneself in a moment, distracted perhaps from illness or other challenges. We are keen to allow people to engage with whichever art form appeals to them and bring it directly into their homes. OASIS also presents an opportunity to connect individuals with each other, and it is this ripple effect that excites us. We can’t wait to get started and are very keen to develop the idea further in the longer term.

Sandra Bruce-Gordon FRSA, Director & Chief Executive at Paintings in Hospitals, said:

Covid-19 has taught us all the true value of connection with creativity, with culture, and with other people. For many, the arts were a lifeline throughout the long lockdowns. We know people want this in their lives more than ever. With the isolation of the pandemic lingering, and with the winter approaching, now is the perfect time for Paintings in Hospitals and Reconnections to bring culture and connection directly to vulnerable people’s doors through the OASIS project.

OASIS participants enjoying a walk in the fresh air. Group photographed from behind. One caries an umbrella with a sunflower print on it.

April showers: the first OASIS group outing to a local park

OASIS Begins

The first outing and activity saw participants enjoy a bit of fresh air on a group walk and have a go at sketching the local ducks with a non-dominant hand. Practising drawing with your non-dominant hand (your right hand if you are left handed, or your left hand if you are right handed), can be a useful way to experiment with mark making without worries about the finished result holding you back. It also exercises a different part of your brain than when using your dominant hand.

Trying out some digital photography with the OASIS group 

The second and most recent outing was a photography workshop at a local beauty spot. Participants met up for a cup of tea, followed by a walk to the lake to explore photography with smartphones, try out a chest harness GoPro, and go old school with some cameras and a zoom lens!

Some amazing results from the first OASIS photography workshop

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