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Kildare Covid Notebook Project

Age Friendly Ireland

Age Friendly Kildare

Programme: Kildare

WHO Theme: Community Support And Health Services, Respect And Social Inclusion, Social Participation

Health & Wellbeing Theme: Staying Connected, Switching Off And Being Creative

Funding Stream: Local Authority core funding and Creative Ireland funding

Resources Required: Community Support, Financial, Paid Staff, Services

Cost: 0-500


The Kildare Covid Notebook Project All the notebooks were identical but that’s where the similarities ended. This project was aimed at older people and those cocooning in Kildare. In March 2020 over 140 moleskin notebooks were delivered to homes throughout the county by Kildare County Council who encouraged participants to share their reflections, artwork, and stories throughout the lockdown with the intention that the diaries would eventually become part of a permanent archive for the county. The notebooks were returned for digital scanning and reveal a treasure trove of lockdown memories. Funding was secured from Creative Ireland to make ‘The Covid Diaries’ short film which was shot by David C Lynch. COVID19 Notebook Project, an initiative of the Kildare Library and Arts Service. are Covid 19 Notebook Project As the COVID19 crisis unfolded, Kildare County Council were keen to provide some positive pro-active projects that could engage and inspire citizens of the county, particularly those who are cocooning and older people. The ask? Sign up for an A5 moleskine project that will be delivered to your home. Fill it however you wish, capturing the COVID months in some way, and return it to us for digital scanning, to become a permanent archive for Kildare County Council, before the notebook is returned to the participant for keeping. The project was led by Kildare Library and Arts Service, supported by the Creative Ireland and Healthy Ireland team, Kildare Age Friendly network, Naas Care of the Aged, library services, disability and mental health services in the county. Participants were advised that there was no right way to complete the notebook – it could take the form of a written diary, or notes, poems or stories, looking forward, or back, or reflecting on how it feels to live through these challenging times. Notebooks documented very personal lockdown experiences, as well as national and international news. There was reference to sadness around older relatives in nursing homes, missing out on normal family celebrations for new babies and significant birthdays. Some participants took an artistic approach, painting, drawing, collage, poetry and short stories. Recurring themes were the comfort of having a pet, a renewed relationship with nature, gardening and family. Food, hair cuts and social distancing were common reference points. To date, 140 people across Co Kildare have signed up for the challenge. At least 50% of the participants are older people and many others could be identified as vulnerable. The take up from the project has exceeded expectations, with many participants providing regular progress updates along the way, often with a great sense of fun and enthusiasm. Many expressed that they felt part of something bigger and that it was important to capture this extraordinary moment in time. The oldest participant is 93 and her notebook was completed by her family and the youngest, 6, who completed a notebook alongside her brother, sister and mother. A well as the digital archiving which may take a year to complete, there was a desire to somehow share the project with participants and the public in a safe manner, as a public exhibition of the notebooks is not appropriate at this time. Funding was secured under Creative Ireland’s Positive Ageing and Creative Wellbeing Challenge Fund to create a documentary, with some of the older notebook participants, for online screening on Culture Night, September 18th on Kildare Arts Service social media channels. Recording a selected number of participants on the film, in their own home, talking about their notebooks will add another layer to the project. 7 participants have been selected from across the county. Project curator/producer is Lucina Russell, a member of the Creative Ireland team, who has produced 2 films and leads Kildare’s Short Grass Film programme. The film director is David Christopher Lynch, a local filmmaker who has produced, directed, filmed and edited a substantial number of award winning films. His films tell human stories filled with empathy. David was awarded e12,500 under the Kildare Short Grass Films commission award in 2019, for We Don’t Choose How, a poignant short film about a young homeless couple, which premieres at the Galway Film Fleadh July 2020. On Friday 28th August, RTE News reporter Eleanor Mannion came along to filming for the documentary and interviewed 91 year old participant Elizabeth Kemmy who lives in Clane about why she got involved.

Aim of Initiative

Citizens from Kildare. Older people and those cocooning were targeted. The oldest participant was 6 and the oldest, 95.

Who is it aimed at

Citizens from Kildare. Older people and those cocooning were targeted. The oldest participant was 6 and the oldest, 95.

Steps critical to success

  1. Partnership
  2. Creative Thinking
  3. Strong Community Spirit

Challenges in Planning / Delivery

  1. Trying to manage the project while working from home/homeschooling
  2. Trying to ensure the information reached the people we wanted to target
  3. Sourcing/ordering the notebooks required extra attention with Covid restrictions

Outcomes / Benefits

  1. The feeling of being part of something bigger
  2. The stories in the notebooks will make an important archive for the county/country
  3. The project brought focus and joy to participants

Evaluation / Report:

Lucina Russell, Arts Officer, Kildare County Council,