Keywords:craft, women, health, groupwork, altruism, ageing
This article reports on a qualitative research project conducted in Victoria, Australia, with nine older women. The purpose of the research was to explore the women’s experience of involvement in craft groups, and specifically, the impact of this involvement on their sense of well-being. Traditionally the health of older people has been examined in relation to medical markers of physical well-being, and often, decline. We were interested to widen this perspective to understand the impact of social connection, belonging and ongoing learning and development on the ageing experience. While the focus of the groups was on domestic craftwork, the process of coming together as a collective appeared to have significant bearing on the holistic health of the women involved. Consistent with feminist groupwork literature, the findings indicated that the women we interviewed experienced the group setting as affirming and generative in a number of ways. These include providing an avenue for mutual aid, addressing isolation, affirming individual and collective strength and wisdom, while acquiring new skills, and normalising concerns regarding health and family.