An exciting time for Ageing Creatively!

Harriet, Ageing Creatively Coordinator (centre)

After months of planning, three of our new Ageing Creatively projects have now launched. We talk to Harriet, our Ageing Creatively Coordinator about how it’s all going!

Firstly Harriet, can you tell us a little bit about the Ageing Creatively Programme?

Ageing Creatively explores ways to engage older people in the arts, in both community and care settings. We do this by offering activities and courses across all the arts including song, poetry, dance and visual arts. The creative sessions provide an opportunity for people to come together and socialise in a fun, informal environment. Participants might learn a new skill, rediscover a hobby or perform to the public for the first time.

Can you please tell us a little more about the care home project you have recently launched?

Of course! Our care home project which began mid-January is called This Is Me and offers care home residents in Willows Edge and Walnut Close an opportunity to work with a local artist, explore visual arts, learn new skills and most importantly rediscover a sense of identity through art. It has been a real privilege to learn about each resident and discover their interests and passions. We have heard stories about living in London in the 60s, working as a gunman in the woods in West Berkshire and making friends doing factory work during WW2.

We have had a fabulous response from both residents and staff members including one staff member remarking: "I think we need to get [one of the residents] some pens like that. I think he needs to be sat at a table too, like this. He’s usually in an armchair so he doesn't draw like this. It’s incredible.”

In March we will have an exhibition of the residents work so keep your eyes open for more information!

How about projects in the local community?

We have recently launched two community projects; Dare to Dance and Choir 55. Dare to Dance offers two weekly sessions; one for beginners and one for improvers. Both classes have really thrown themselves in with positivity and humour and it seems the groups are already growing in confidence.

“When I first came in I felt uncomfortable and awkward; now I feel confident and like I could do anything!” – Dare to Dance participant after their first taster session.

Choir 55 has already become a really friendly, social occasion with participants enjoying a catch up before singing begins. We sing a range of songs from musical numbers to 70's pop, frequently taking song suggestions from the group. At present we are quite a small group and are always looking for new people to join us!

And you host a weekly Coffee Companions?

Coffee Companions is a great scheme launched by one of our volunteer stewards, Caroline Billington. The Corn Exchange holds a Companions Hour every Tuesday from 2-4pmand is a great opportunity to meet new people over a cup of coffee. We have an incredibly welcoming group of people who attend regularly to have a chat, swap books and have a real giggle!

To find out more about Ageing Creatively and how you can get involved please contact Harriet on 01635 582666 or email harrietw@cornexchangenew.co.uk