Older People, Isolation and Civic Engagement

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In 2013, Lewisham Council’s Community Directorate, Entelechy Arts, and the Albany came together to try and find a new approach to day care. They wanted to create a regular meeting place, where older people could meet and take part in something more than just a knitting circle and a bottomless pot of tea. They wanted to offer creative workshops, performances, music, good food, and excellent company. And tea.

With that objective in mind, Meet Me at the Albany was born and has been sticking ‘two knitting needles up at anyone who dares assume day care for older people is about flower arranging and endless cups of tea’ ever since. Come round to the Albany on a Tuesday, and you’ll see the café bursting with life as Meet Me participants and volunteers indulge in the current week’s offerings.

At Meet Me anything seems possible, with participants taking on everything, from hanging from the ceiling of the Albany’s theatre while they practice circus skills, to writing poetry with the likes of Simon Mole and Malika Booker, to having a bash on the piano.

Now we want to go further. The current day service models on offer don’t seem to fit the needs and challenges of an ever increasing number of isolated old people in this country. It’s time for this to change.

So, we are hosting a national symposium on 2 December, inviting cultural leaders and civic strategists to explore the potential of opening up art spaces, libraries and museum to create space for older people to engage and enrich their lives, and explore how older people can be supported to take centre stage in this process.

If you are interested in learning more about the symposium, or booking to attend, please contact Vicky Harrison.

Maxine Smiles, Junior Communications Assistant at the Albany