The Royal Exchange has been involved in a creative partnership with Age-Friendly Manchester, housing provider Anchor, ALL FM - a community radio station and cultural partners Manchester Art Gallery and The Whitworth.
In July 2014 the National Campaign to End Loneliness convened a regional summit which was held in Manchester. This summit revealed that nearly 122,200 older people in the North West describe themselves as feeling lonely all or most of the time. And 73% of doctors in the North West say they regularly see between one and five lonely patients every day.
Kate Jopling, Director for the Campaign to End Loneliness, commented:
“The danger loneliness poses to people’s health and wellbeing is increasingly well understood”
The Royal Exchange worked with Anchor residents from North Manchester and involved them in a range of creative sessions at their homes.
The project was designed to bring people together, get them talking about theatre, build their confidence and to try out some of the more practical sessions we lead from our city centre venue.
It links into our wider work with older people, which includes our Elders Company and two of the Elders Company members, Alan and Estelle supported the delivery of the project. We also worked with writer Sarah McDonald Hughes.
Andy Barry, the Elders Company director who facilitated the sessions said:
“The outcome is an 18-minute radio broadcast called THOUGHTS ON A THURSDAY. It is part documentary, part radio play. The idea behind the piece is to give voice to the older people we worked with, they have brilliant insights into life and we wanted to share those with a wider audience. The piece is based around the idea of a radio being tuned and the listener hears snippets of conversations, poems and insights.”
One participant who took part in the project (and has now signed up to a number of workshop at the Royal Exchange theatre) said:
I looked forward to the weekly sessions and found them fun, sometimes challenging – good for getting to know more residents here than I knew before.
There is a good feeling of cooperation rather than competition – no right or wrong ideas. You are free to express yourself without fear of failure.
Other Anchor residents took part in similar projects with Manchester Art Gallery and The Whitworth. On Friday 30 September, The Whitworth hosted a celebration event brining all the participants together, while ALL FM 96.9 hosted a day of special programmes about older people and the arts.
The full broadcast of the Royal Exchange’s Thoughts on a Thursday can be heard here: