AN Edinburgh-based artist specialising in painting, drawing and photography is using self-expressive art to equip jobless people in Edinburgh with the confidence necessary to seek employment.
Carol Le Lievre, working on a volunteer basis with employability and skills charity the Shaw Trust, uses the experience to build on her own teaching skills while encouraging Shaw Trust customers to spend time on activities to improve their mental wellbeing.
The course is one of many at the campus which offers people with health conditions and disabilities access to a range of services aimed at improving health, wellbeing and chance of employment, while tackling social isolation.
Carol said: “I had volunteered in a few other places before but when I heard about Shaw Trust and what they do for the community I was keen to get involved. I was given the freedom to be flexible in what the course would consist of, as well as when it would run – this was a huge part of the experience for me.
“Running the art class and deciding what the class would entail week on week let me gauge reactions to new techniques and gave me confidence in my own teaching abilities.”
Throughout the length of the course, Carol encouraged the class to select their own images based on personal interests and sculpt their own projects.
She said: “The laid back atmosphere allowed participants to speak more openly about their own lives and engage with more people throughout the campus.”
Carol, who suffers from dyslexia and has struggled to find work in the past, used her own personal experience to empathise with participants and allow them to become comfortable in their own abilities.
Carol said: “I wanted participants to be unrestricted in what they created, to think about their own interests and what makes them happy.
“A lot of focus for people who are unemployed will be centred on overcoming obstacles in finding a job. However, it’s important that they are socialising, building their confidence and enjoying other aspects of their lives.
“This has also been a journey for me. I went into the first class shaking with nerves and left the last class setting out to start my own business.”
Austin Hardie, executive director at Shaw Trust, said: “The idea of our campus is to bring together a range of wellbeing, mental health and employment-based services, as a one-stop shop destination for those who need it.”
“Our job is to make sure that disabled people or individuals with health conditions across Scotland who want to work, get the best opportunity to allow them to do that.”