Of all the things I've done in the past few years, The Covid Cafe at Spare Tyre has occupied a very special place in my heart and not just because of what the cafés have meant to the people who come along but also in terms of how powerfully they have affected me. Over two years, the project has taught me so much about what representation (and its opposite) really feels like. I've spent most of my professional life advocating and attempting to achieve equality and diversity in arts. I've had some success but there's always more to do. Never have I understood its importance so much as I do now. People often joke about "feeling seen". With Covid Café that hit me properly directly in the guts. I was seen, I was and am known in ways I didn't even know that I needed to be. In 2022, when I first met the initial group of facilitators, it was the first time I had spent time with anyone else who had Long Covid. It was almost too much, I wasn't ready for what it would mean. I had to step back at first from facilitating myself because I couldn't hold a space in which I realised I needed to be held. And gradually the group has evolved a practice where we are truly alongside, our common experience guiding us through the changing dynamics of illness and disability, holding and being held. I'm sharing this because next week, we'll be opening the Spare Tyre Covid Café for another session, a one-off because our funds are limited (and I'm stubborn and have to pay the freelances properly come what may). I would love it if you would pass on the invitation to anyone you know who is living with Long Covid or who another long term health condition and who could do with some company and solidarity. Whether you're a newbie to having a condition or been at it for decades, you are welcome.

I was seen, I was and am known in ways I didn't even know that I needed to be.


There is definitely a breath of Autumn in today's air and so it's time for another Covid Café Creative Share .... if you've been before you'll be familiar with our virtual imaginary cafe. If you haven't and you're living with a long term health condition and would like to hang out with other people who can empathise from their own experience with how you're feeling, come and give us a try.

The Covid Cafe takes place on Zoom. It's free, safe and gentle. No judgements, no treatments just people and creativity together. Screen on, screen off join from your bed or your sofa or your garden.

Thursday 21 September from 3-4.15pm (arrive when you want, stay as long as you feel able to). Bring your own favourite tea/coffee/infusion.

The next Covid Café will be another creative sharing. If you’ve mused or made something recently or you’ve unearthed a project from a time ago that you’d like to share, drop us a line and we’d be delighted to hear from you. The format is very informal and you don’t need to have finished the piece or be a skilled artist to share. I’ve found during my Long Covid life that I’ve turned to visual art from gardening or writing. I’m not highly proficient but I love the doing and the contemplating. Equally if you are a pro and want to share, we’d be honoured to have a private view!
If you can send us your item as a pic, a video, a piece of text or a recording, that’s helpful so we can have an idea of numbers and a running order

And if you’d rather just keep company with some people as we have before, don’t worry that’s also possible. Hang out with screen on or screen off, join in or listen, with your favourite cuppa in your favourite virtual café space.

Laura Rees and Rebecca will be hosting with Lara our technical host

We look forward to seeing you soon
contact covidcafe@sparetyre.org and we'll send you the Zoom link