Why creativity matters Stories of creativity Sharing stories and making connections ‘Story Share and Care’ was a participatory arts project delivering a range of creative activities including storytelling, poetry and spoken word. It was delivered by Straeon Gwaun & People Speak Up and was one of three partnership projects commissioned by Creative Lives and funded by the Arts Council of Wales as part of Get Creative and Make a Difference. The partnership The two organisations had been wanting to work in partnership for some time and share a very similar approach and ethos. People Speak Up is the larger organisation, with well-developed policies and procedures, administrative processes and technical expertise. People Speak Up had wanted to extend their work into Pembrokeshire and draw on Straeon Gwaun / Fishguard Storytelling's success in engaging older people through a social storytelling programme of events and workshops. Together the partners were able to build on their expertise in engaging isolated older people, carers, those living with dementia and older people experiencing poor mental health. My mother-in-law is very isolated and really enjoyed her ‘story calls’. It was lovely to pass her room and hear her laughing on the phone. What was delivered? The project delivered four 90min group activities via Zoom called 'Story Care and Share' sessions. 19 people took part in these online sharing sessions, some bringing their own poems, some telling stories, some singing songs they had written themselves: a whole wealth of creative offerings. 7 older people took part in the project through Story Shares in their gardens or over the phone, which totalled over 8 hours contact time with participants. It made me feel special, having a one-to-one session just for me. What were the outcomes? The participants benefited in a number of ways, including reduced isolation and loneliness; increased feeling of connection with others and with ‘the wider world’ outside the home; increased intellectual stimulation and mental activity, including creative activity, reflection, conversation and discussion. Participation in the project enabled people to have their creative contributions valued, leading to an increased sense of self-worth. The project also enabled people to participate fully without any Covid risk and helped to alleviate anxiety about social mixing after lockdown. It was a magical experience. Since this project, the partners have built on this pilot through another collaboration with Beyond the Border to develop more storytelling activity for the community in West Wales.