Between the 9th and 13th of May, a very meaningful art installation will be travelling around West Sussex to recognise those lost to Covid during the past two years and help people to reflect and celebrate their lives.
Local charity Dementia Support has been working in partnership with West Sussex County Council and The Selsey Community Forum to purchase two hundred steel forget-me-nots from Chi-Africa. The aim is to help provide a space for communities to come together to share their grief in a meaningful way after the lockdowns prevented them from doing so at the time, with many not getting the chance to say goodbye.
Chi-Africa is a local business that produces garden sculptures from recycled materials in partnerships with craftsmen in Zimbabwe.
Alongside the forget-me-nots, there will be an opportunity for people to share their personal reflections in a jar. These will then be turned into five Books of Remembrance after the event and will be held in local libraries.
The launch event will be taking place on Friday 29th April at Dementia Support’s hub, Sage House, in Tangmere. Gillian Keegan (MP for Chichester and Minister of State for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care) will be attending Sage House to officially unveil the reflections sculpture.
The installation will then be travelling around the county, between the 9th and 13th of May. It will be visiting Crawley, Horsham, Burgess Hill, Worthing, and ending the week at Chichester Festival Theatre on the 13th. The forget-me-knots will then be distributed to the communities for permanent installation.
Over 21,000 people passed away in West Sussex during the pandemic, for Sage House the doors were closed, meaning many family carers were caring 24/7 for their loved ones without face-to-face support. In total 42 of their customers with dementia or their carers passed away. The experiences for Selsey Community Forum mirrored what Dementia Support experienced, but out of the sadness, the reflections project developed.
Martha Pusey, Head of Sage House, said: “The idea for the reflections project came about with two carers in mind that we supported during the pandemic who lost loved ones living with dementia. The project is very much dedicated to their memories. One carer lost his wife early in the pandemic and at the time funerals were no more than six people - he said that when the time was right, we would celebrate her life. The second carer’s mum passed in a care home, and she was not allowed into the home to be with her mum.
It is always a privilege to attend the funerals of people in our care who have passed away. We hope this permanent memorial eases some of the grief and provides somewhere for loved ones to come and reflect and know that their loved ones are remembered.”