Home truths: Irish creatives help domestic abuse victims with charity prints

Creatives against Covid-19 is a group of artists collaborating to create works they can sell to support women and children living in abusive situations, writes Denise O’Donoghue

Home truths: Irish creatives help domestic abuse victims with charity prints
Print by Ryan Kavanagh

The plight of women and children living in abusive situations led a group of creative thinkers to set up an inspiring artistic campaign. Over the last few weeks, an Instagram account called Creatives Against Covid-19 (@creativesagainstcovid19) has emerged and gained thousands of followers. Its mission is simple: to sell art created during the coronavirus crisis, with all money raised benefiting Women’s Aid and ISPCC Childline. One of the people behind the campaign, Celine Dee, described their feelings of helplessness when the crisis began.

“Three weeks ago, a few of us, while working from home, read some content that inspired us to start this campaign. The ISPCC had reported a peak in children contacting them since restrictions came into place. At the same time, Women’s Aid was expressing their concern for women and children living in domestic abuse situations,” Celine said.

“There are no reprieves for them, such as a child being able to escape abuse for a few hours at school. It really struck a chord with us and we felt we had to do something. We aren’t frontline workers and we felt helpless. This is our way of doing something. We spoke to the charities and they said these increases in calls are only the start.”

Women’s Aid said many abusers are using the Covid-19 measures keeping people at home to further their control over women and children. “Right now, women and children all over Ireland are trapped in suffocating circumstances with their abusers. Because of the measures necessary to combat Covid-19, women find themselves alone with an abuser who is using this opportunity to further their control, said CEO Sarah Benson. “Domestic abuse escalates in times of economic and social crisis, so Women’s Aid has had to escalate too, in order to be able to support the women who contact us.”

ISPCC Childline, too, has noted the continuance of difficulties for those it supports. “Unfortunately, abuse, mental health difficulties and other issues do not stop in a pandemic. Childline needs to continue to be here for children and young people 24 hours a day, every day,” said Caroline O’Sullivan, director of services.

In response to an Instagram post asking creatives why they contributed work, one artist said: “I too grew up in an abusive household and know how important it is to have hope.” Another said: “It feels like unless you’re a healthcare worker you can’t actually do anything besides staying at home. It gives us a sense of purpose of contributing to the cause.”

The Creatives Against Covid-19 campaign is a creative collaboration between Shauna Buckley, Emma Conway, Sarah Doyle, Ryan Kavanagh, Fuchsia MacAree, Rory Simms, The Project Twins and was originated by creative agency RichardsDee.

Celine, who co-founded RichardsDee, said they know how design can improve the world and wanted to use that power during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Design has the power to inspire change. We wanted to harness the idea of design having a real-world impact at this time,” she said.

“There is so much anxiety and fear around this crisis and we wanted to encourage hope. The theme for Creatives Against Covid is ‘soon’. We wanted to remind people that we will all be changed by this but it won’t be forever. The pieces submitted tell stories of strength, solidarity, kindness and hope.”

Council member Ryan Kavanagh said: “We are living through history right now. A difficult time for all, never mind those who need it most. I’m incredibly proud to make a difference in people’s lives through design.”

The reaction to the campaign was been bigger than its creators imagined. “With over 1,200 submissions from 30 countries in just seven days, the response from the global creative community has been overwhelming. This is a global crisis so we wanted to attract submissions from all around the world, not just from within Ireland,” Celine said.

“We could never have anticipated the response we got. The work we received is beautiful and perfectly captures this moment in time. The campaign really captured the hearts and minds of creatives.”

The Creatives Against Covid-19 council spent much of their time after the submission period closed working on setting up an online shop to sell over 1,200 prints which was a mammoth task. Sarah Benson of Women’s Aid said this campaign will be a huge help to their work.

“Creatives Against Covid19 is a wonderful and positive effort to raise much-needed funds to support our work during the current pandemic,” she said. “When the crisis passes, our work will continue thanks to this support.” Caroline O’Sullivan of ISPCC Childline also thanked the artists who gave their time and work.

“All of the creators involved with Creatives Against Covid 19, and all who support our services, will be a part of every Childline engagement with a child. Thank you.”

The posters are available to buy for €40 each at creativesagainstcovid19.com, with all proceeds donated equally across Women’s Aid and ISPCC Childline.

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