Craft Cafe - Edinburgh


Craft Café’s aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of older people who may have become socially isolated. In the community and care home setting these older people can come together as a community to create art for art’s sake, and enjoy the therapeutic benefits. Craft Café was not initially intended for younger generations however we’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from family members of residents.

Craft Café runs in two care homes in Edinburgh, Lennox House and St Raphael’s. The older people are residents of the care homes and attend the Craft Café as often as they wish. Many of them have dementia and Alzheimer’s, which can make verbal communication difficult. At St Raphael’s there is a dedicated space with a large skylight for the Craft Café members, stocked with a variety of arts materials, tea, coffee and biscuits. Craft Café bridges the gap between care and housing support, creating a vibrant creative space and improving social interaction.

Intergenerational opportunities have arisen unexpectedly; it has become a place for families to re-connect with loved ones. Though the space was set up solely for the older people, families visiting residents have been able to join them in the Craft Café space to interact in a relaxed atmosphere.

Why is it needed?

It can be difficult and upsetting for families to visit a loved one in a care home. Many families have told us that visiting someone in their room can be quite stifling and uncomfortable as there is nothing to stimulate conversation. The Craft Café has broken down perceptions of what families, and in particular young people, think about older people and visiting care homes, removing the stigma of visiting family members.

The Craft Café is such a stimulating environment for older people that their friends and families find conversation flows more easily. They can also take part in activities with the residents with many of the families commenting that they hadn’t connected with family members in that way for a long time.

The Craft Café has become a hub for different combinations of people:

• Older people without visitors interacting with one another
• Friends and families including young children visiting family members
• Friends and families including young children visiting the Craft Café while their relative is resting to chat to other residents

Craft Café has become intergenerational in terms of the interaction between residents of care home, the artist in residence, the volunteers and the family members of residents.

Craft Café is open to residents of St Raphael’s and Lennox House Care Homes in Edinburgh and Viewpoint tenants aged over 60. The St Raphael’s Craft Café regularly has 20 people who attend and Lennox House has around 25. All residents can get involved. Their ages range from around 60 to 99 years old. Visiting families ages vary, with the youngest visitor only 19 months old!

The Craft Café also has a quota of volunteers who help out. Volunteer’s ages range from late teens to 40’s-50’s. Volunteers have become involved in a number of different ways – either through contacting Impact Arts or through visiting the Craft Café with relatives.

The Care Homes have their own Activities Co-ordinator who arranges lots of different activities for residents, and they encourage people to come to the Craft Café. The residents’ carers also encourage them to come along, and the artist in residence and her assistant visit residents to tell them about the programme and encourage them to come along. The Craft Café is also featured In St Raphael’s monthly newsletter which is circulated to residents and family members.


The sessions are facilitated by a degree qualified artist. The group also has a quota of volunteers

Residents come together to paint, draw, do crochet, make jewellery, do print making, puppetry making, felt work and clay work, amongst other things. The space is set up to encourage social interaction and has become a preferred area for family members

A record player and a selection of LP’s that belonged to one of the residents, Jackie, contribute to the atmosphere. When Jackie passed away, he bequeathed these to the Craft Café so that others could continue to enjoy them.

Impact Arts regularly organise additional activities for residents including exhibitions and sales of their work at external venues, which the residents and their families and the general public are encouraged to visit. There are also tea dances for residents, friends and families, with live music, dance demonstrations and afternoon tea.

Benefits for the Younger People

• The new interests and motivation of the older person leads to more conversation and a better relationship for family members
• The companionship and interests provided through the Craft Café means that family members worry less about their loved one
• The group support offered by the Craft Café means that the older person requires less attention by the family
• The creative output of the older person leads to increased appreciation and interest in art among family members

The grandson of one of the members volunteered at the Craft Café before starting at Falmouth Art School doing illustration. He credits Craft Café for helping him find his direction, in a chaotic time of his life.

Another volunteer has acquired the experience she needs to move on to gain employment as an arts tutor.

There are real benefits from doing this kind of intergenerational work.

Benefits for the Older People

“Although we haven’t undertaken any evaluation of the Craft Cafés in the care home setting, an SROI on the community Craft Cafés found that the outcomes for older people were…”

• Through the activities participants feel stimulated and inspired, leading to a sense of self-worth and fulfilment
• Participants make new friends, form better and stronger relationships, and are therefore less lonely
• Regular attendance brings mental stimulation, a more positive outlook, and reduced levels of anxiety and depression
• Over time participants become more confident, more independent, more active in their community, leading to a better quality of life
• Participants start to take more regular and more vigorous exercise as a result of attending
• Participants take greater notice of their health and reduce harmful behaviours (e.g. smoking, drinking, and poor diet)

“The Craft Café is my oasis in a desert of loneliness caused by health problems. Everyone is so friendly. I hope that the Craft Café will continue to inspire and bring happiness to all who participate.” Craft Café member

“It’s welcoming, good humoured, laid back and the focus for many of the residents mornings and afternoons – and for family and friends too. I love to come here and see mum quietly enjoying craft work.” Daughter of Craft Café member

“The Craft Café is a unique and wonderful place where I can spend time with my mum in a relaxed, calm, peaceful interaction with art and the creative spirit. It’s wonderful to see her interacting with people and being creative. Thank you.” Daughter of Craft Café member.


Funding was sourced from Viewpoint Trust


Craft Café is constantly being evaluated through our monitoring and evaluation framework, which we have adapted from our learning through the SROI process. This includes baseline questionnaires, quarterly follow up questionnaires, registers and anecdotal evidence log from tutors, family and staff.

The Craft Café is a tried and tested model that has taken place across Scotland. The first Craft Cafés were in a community setting in Glasgow and Ayrshire. Impact Arts undertook an independent Social Return on Investment Study in 2008 which found that for every £1 invested in Craft Café there was a social return of £8.27. The programme has been equally successful in the care home setting.


A Craft Café member said:

“This is the highlight of my week, coming to Craft Café. I think that people work better in different age groups, that’s the way families are. Younger children can evoke memories for older people, and spark conversations of things they have forgotten. Culturally, we don’t really respect older family members. In other countries they are seen as head of the family and a font of knowledge. That’s not so in the UK.

“However, in Craft Café, the residents can reconnect with their old skills – I myself am a jewellery maker. Being able to pass on these skills to other Craft Café members and to the artist and volunteers has meant so much to me. It’s made me feel useful and valued again. When I don’t take part in artistic activities, I die inside.”

What has changed as a result of the project?

  • Residents who attend Craft Café have improved wellbeing, a more positive outlook on life and increased social interaction.
  • Family members have reported improved relationships with loved ones.
  • Volunteers have feedback that they have been able to gain valuable experience from working at the Craft Café, that has enabled them to make the next positive steps in their careers.

Next steps

We will refocus our evaluation to include family members as well as residents.


Finalist at Scotland’s Dementia Awards 2012, in the Best Innovation in Continuing Care Category.

Local Priorities

Craft Café’s aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of older people who may have become socially isolated. In the community and care home setting these older people can come together as a community to create art for art’s sake, and enjoy the therapeutic benefits.

Scottish NPF Objectives

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).

HEALTHIER – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.

These NPF objectives could also apply:

*WEALTHIER and FAIRER * will support activities that address inequalities and enhance skills, employability and job opportunities. It builds on the characteristics of solidarity, cohesion and sustainability to ensure that all of Scotland has an opportunity to flourish

Scottish NPF Outcomes

We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.

Our people are able to maintain their independence as they get older and are able to access appropriate support when they need it.

We have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society.