Lydia from Carers Leeds, shares her experiences of scrapbooking - what it is, how to get started, and how it's helping more and more carers to manage their feelings.
Scrapbooking is a great way to gather memories, get creative, and switch off from everyday repetitive tasks. For some, it can be enjoyed alone but nothing is stopping us from doing it as a group activity either.
And don't worry - you can't get it wrong.
What is scrapbooking?
Scrapbooking is a creative way to organise our memories, feelings and goals, in the form of a book where we simply paste in things that interest us.
Scrapbooks can include photographs, drawings, pages cut from magazines, our own writing, recipe cards, and more. It can also include small random things that we've accumulated in our day-to-day such as a train ticket or a leaflet from a restaurant.
Anything that makes evokes those feelings of nostalgia, is a good place to start.
How scrapbooking boosts our mental health
Creativity has proven to support our emotional resilience. It allows us to express and connect with our emotions and feelings without necessarily using words.
It can also provide valuable social connections if we access it through a club. Scrapbooking is a really accessible way into a creative project.
What we might need to start scrapbooking
Scrapbooking can be started at little cost and with no artistic experience. We might even have everything we need already.
Begin with the basics of a book (plain pages are best), some scissors, glue, and a pen or pencil. Craft shops, supermarkets and plenty of places online sell scrapbooks, but an exercise book or whatever is lying around, can work just as well.
For some supplies inspiration, we could try:
We can even make our scrapbooks online, if we prefer. Canva.com is an easy-to-use website that allows us to make a digital scrapbook - so all we need to get started is our computer.
There is a free account option and if we search ‘scrapbook’ on the site there are some free templates available.
Use the ‘Upload’ and ‘Add text’ buttons found on the left of the screen to add our own photos, screengrabs and clips from other websites to make it our own.
Three different scrapbook themes
Once we have our material we can start thinking about what we want to include. A scrapbook can focus on one theme, or we can add a bit of everything. Whatever we want! with this in mind, we know we can't get it wrong!
Don't know where to start? Perhaps one of these themes will spark an idea;
1. A hobbies or interests scrapbook
What hobbies or interests do we have, that make us feel good? Perhaps it's music, travel or cooking.
2. A reflections scrapbook
If we have one thing on our mind that perhaps we need to work through, then our scrapbook could become the place to collate our thoughts, feelings and learnings. For example, perhaps a collection of diary entries reflecting on the reality of being a carer. With colours and photos reflecting on our mood.
3. A family scrapbook
Scrapbooking can make a great family activity. Maybe it's something we could use to capture memories and family photographs, together with our children or our cared-for.
Chloe, a young adult carer, shares her story further below.
Five-steps to getting started
Sometimes, even if we've decided on a theme, that first page can still feel tricky. So here's some 'getting started ideas'. Here five easy ways to fill a page:
1. This is me
Write down five words that we would describe ourselves with. If we're struggling with this, we could ask friends for a word to describe us! And/or we can draw or stick in images that represent us. Perhaps including our hobbies, music we enjoy, and our favourite way to relax.
Write down our favourite recipe. Then think of ways to decorate the page. This could be drawn or crafted – for example, making our favourite meal in colours cut from magazine pages?
Respond to a TV show or film that has made us smile, cry or cringe. Who was in it? What was good about it? What would we have changed?
Press some dry leaves or flowers for your scrapbook. Just place the leaves or flowers between two pieces of kitchen towel, place a heavy book on top for a couple of weeks and our flowers will be pressed and ready to stick in our book!
Gather any material we have lying around, perhaps in the recycling box. Anything from wrapping paper to packaging, newspapers and magazines. Cut and stick and see what pattern appears. It can mean something or just be purely artistic!
Benefits of Scrapbooking
A way to connect
At Carers Leeds we started a scrapbooking group and found it was a great way to feel connected with each other.
Our scrapbook group was part of our Carers Connections project which supports older carers in Leeds. As one member put it;
“We had a right good laugh didn't we!”
We each had our own scrapbook but met on Zoom to natter over a cup of tea and share ideas for what to put into our books. Everyone was welcome to join in – some people came alone or with family and friends including anyone cared for. We found it quickly became a place of comfort and routine.
Another member commented,
“I feel like I know you now, even though we have never actually met, only over Zoom.”
Some group members used scrapbooking as a moment of quiet in a hectic day. Other people joined with their children – who contributed Disney postcards – or with their partners, adding leaves grown in their garden.
The finished scrapbooks became a reflection of how we as a group of carers felt over those months, something that we can look back on in the future to remember how we were feeling.
A great group hobby
We could start our own scrapbooking group with friends. A scrapbook would make a thoughtful birthday present to send to a friend, especially if we commit to spending time together filling it in. Start by writing a postcard or letter to each other to include (and don’t forget to add the date too as a future reminder).
Finding inspiration online
There’s lots of material online to read, watch or add to yourself. If you join Pinterest you can save the best inspiration all in one place.
Facebook has a number of scrapbooking groups, including For The Love Of Pretty Paper (UK Scrapbooking Group).
And more materials and tutorials can be found here:
"Most importantly, scrapbooking is about creativity, whatever that looks like to each of us. One page filled a week quickly grows and turns into something to have for years to come."
A personal story: How scrapbooking helped me care for my brother
In 2015, my brother had a brain injury from a freak sporting accident. In just one split second, all 16 years’ worth of memories were lost, and he became a stranger in his own life.
His memories are really important to him as a part of his identity and it played a big part in his recovery. Over the next year, whilst his memories started to come back in pieces, we also started to create new ones.
His accident reminded us of just how important it is to make memories and capture those precious moments when we can. We thought that we would try Scrapbooking.
It quickly became a fun way for us to spend time as a family and be on this journey with him. Cutting out photographs and sticking them into an old book became a great conversation starter. Sharing what each photograph, ticket, leaflet, card, or souvenir reminded us of meant that each memory felt like a new one, hearing it for the first time. Who knew you could make such good memories from looking back over old ones?
When we completed our first scrapbook cover to cover, there was a real sense of achievement. A collection of photographs or single moments became a story, and we began to look at life as a whole. We now have loads of scrapbooks that we keep in the coffee table drawer and we acknowledge a memory in the moment by labelling it as ‘one for the scrapbook’.
Chloe, Young Adult Carer for Brother.
Scrapbooking is one of many creative ways, we can support our emotional health.
About the Author
Lydia is a support worker at Carers Leeds, where she creates groups and activities to bring carers together in a positive and uplifting way.
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