Older people across Northern Ireland to share in £144,000 arts funding to tackle loneliness
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced National Lottery funding and public funding from the Public Health Agency and Baring Foundation of over £144,000, for 19 organisations across the region, to deliver community-based arts projects benefitting older people.
The funding is part of the Arts Council's Arts and Older People’s Programme, a pioneering initiative which aims to promote positive mental health and well-being among older people through engagement with the arts whilst tackling issues of loneliness and isolation.
The Arts and Older People’s Programme was established by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2010 and is now a cross-governmental partnership with funding from the Public Health Agency and The Baring Foundation. To date the programme has provided £1.8m funding to community organisations and voluntary groups across Northern Ireland in the delivery of 156 arts projects to older people. The programme has been designed to challenge perceptions of what it means to be an older person.
Lorraine Calderwood, Community Development Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, explained how the Arts and Older People’s Programme is making a difference to the lives of older people across the region:
"Research has proven that engagement with the arts can raise self-esteem, confidence and motivation, as well as aid in relieving stress, worries and also pain. The Arts and Older People’s Programme is committed to providing meaningful opportunities for our older people to take part in arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. The arts have a vital role to play in helping older people find their voice and express the issues which can often affect them on a day-to-day basis, thus promoting positive physical and mental health. The Arts Council is delighted to have supported 156 projects since the programme began.”
Sticky Fingers Arts Newry, the first arts space in Northern Ireland dedicated to children and young people, has received funding towards their intergenerational arts and older people programme, CONNECT. The primary aim of CONNECT is to use the arts in developing intergenerational friendships between older people with dementia, their carers and school children in primary six and seven. The project will work to tackle the loneliness of carers and older people living with dementia in nursing homes as-well as educate children about dementia.
The project will provide much-needed respite to carers by providing them with a weekly two-hour break in the Friendship Café, a comfortable space where they can meet new people and share their experiences. Whilst the carers are in the Friendship Café, the older people with dementia they care for will attend the Memory Café where they will engage in arts activities with professional artists and children. At the end of the project there will be a celebratory exhibition.
The 19 projects to be supported by the Arts & Older People Programme include:
- ABC Community Network, Portadown
- Action Mental Health, Newtownards
- Arts & Disability Forum, Belfast
- Arts Ekta, Belfast
- BEAM Creative Network, Donaghmore, Tyrone
- The Black Box Trust, Belfast
- Dementia (NI), Belfast
- Eastside Arts, Belfast
- Echo Echo Dance Company, Derry-Londonderry
- Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
- Harmony Community Trust, Strandford, Down
- Live Music Now (LMN), Limavady, Derry
- Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership, Ballymena
- Nellisbrook Fold Tenants Association, Randalstown
- Oh Yeah Music Centre, Belfast
- Open Arts, Belfast
- Sticky Fingers Arts, Newry
- Streetwise Community Circus, Belfast
- Wheelworks, Belfast