£10,000 fundraising campaign to bring innovative friendship scheme
£10,000 fundraising campaign to bring innovative friendship scheme to older people at risk of loneliness in the North East
A PILOT initiative bringing older people at risk of loneliness together to help form new friendships is set to launch in the North East.
Gateshead charity Equal Arts is calling on businesses, community groups and residents to help it raise the £10,000 needed for the pilot Creative Friends initiative.
With half of all older people in the UK considering TV to be their main form of company and research finding loneliness is as big a risk to health as smoking and obesity, action needs to be taken to change the future of loneliness.
Creative Friends will bring together older people at risk of loneliness helping them share their interests with like-minded others.
Adding his support to the campaign is Paralympic gold medalist Stephen Miller, who also writes poetry.
He said: "Im pleased to support this Creative Friends initiative by Equal Arts. I enjoy creative writing very much, it is very good for keeping the mind active and can increase your self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
"This pilot is a great way to engage older people at risk of loneliness and could help greatly improve their quality of life. Doing something creative like writing can help you meet new people, learn new skills and develop new ways of thinking.
"Writing poetry helps me express my values and feelings in a creative way and completing a well-written poem gives an enormous sense of achievement."
By donating and calling on a close friend to do the same, people can give those vulnerable to loneliness opportunities to form lasting friendships using their own creative skills and interests.
Tommy Appleby, 89, from Newcastle, cared for his wife Irene for 25 years. He said: “I have been in that lonely situation. When my wife Irene died, I thought it was the end of the world. I’d become isolated from my friends and family and had to make the decision to stop living or to carry on and I decided to carry on.
“I was nervous about putting myself out there, going out to new places with people I’d never met and I was never the creative type. But there was no need to worry, you don’t have to be good at drawing. It’s about trying something new, having a go and meeting new people.
“There is so much for people to do but often they don’t want to go alone, Creative Friends could help with that. Through Equal Arts I’ve met lots of different friends I see each week, whether it’s creative writing at a gallery or going into schools to help with art projects. “Without it I would be on my own.”
Equal Arts aims to launch Creative Friends to help support more older people living across Tyne and Wear.
The initiative will provide opportunities for those at risk of loneliness to develop their creative interests and skills while forming lasting friendships.
Douglas Hunter, Equal Arts director, said: “Our previous projects have shown us the positive impact arts and culture can have on older people’s health and wellbeing but also the detrimental effects loneliness can bring. Creativity using visual arts or music and movement can all be the catalyst to engage with someone at risk of isolation and introduce them to others with shared interests and passions.
Pledging his support for Creative Friends is director of Baltic Godfrey Worsdale.
He said: “Older people should enjoy their passion for great art just like anyone else, old age holds no limit to our imagination.”
To help older people in the North East live fulfilled futures donate at www.equalarts.org.uk
For more information about fundraising for Creative Friends or to get involved email [email protected] or ring 0191 477 5775.
Notes to Editors
- For interviews or to arrange filming/photo opportunities please contact Kerry Wood on 07576 874004
- Equal Arts is the North East’s creative ageing charity specialising in providing creative opportunities for older people to improve health and wellbeing. It delivers sessions in across the North East
- ICM Research survey for Age UK (December 2009)
- Holt-Lunstead (2010)
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