Age UK’s five top tips for making Fun Palaces with and for older people

The 1 – 14 October 2018 is the first Age of Creativity Festival, celebrating creativity in later life across England.  The festival celebrates everyone aged over 50 taking part in a creative activity as an audience member, participant, volunteer or artist.

Farrell Curran from Age UK writes “if are holding a Fun Palace then we would love you to be part of our festival fortnight.  We want to promote what you are doing and ensure as many people hear about it as possible – including those older people who find it particularly difficult to get involved.  Research shows that as you get older, you value creativity more, but quite often find it harder to take part, for a variety of reasons.  We are working together with a huge number of partners to tackle this, including the Fun Palace team – and we need your help to realise our big ambitions.” 

Farrell has also written five top tips to think about when creating an event with and for older people:

1. Who to think about: There are a lot of ‘invisible’ older people who live in every community; those who have significant barriers to going out such as health, money, travel, confidence etc.  Connecting with these people is hard but the benefits they feel when you do is huge. Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age UK, 2014).

2. How to connect: There are a lot of older people who access information online (themselves or via family members) but there are a lot that don’t, so the traditional approach is required- posters in public places, leaflets through doors and word of mouth, if you don’t have time for newsletters, radio etc.  It’s also a very valid reason to visit the pub and coffee shop to spread the word.

3. How to get there: You already have a venue but how do you get there?  Take a look at the bus timetables and find out which buses are likely to get you there on time and spread the word.  Make sure your venue is obvious from the street and put visual directions from the bus stop, not just from the car park.  If you’re really keen, use a volunteer or two outside the venue to meet and greet.

4. How to make it comfortable: It’s obvious, but seating, lighting, warmth, tea (cake) and access to a loo are important at every age, but it is vital in later life and can often be a deal breaker when it comes to attending something-or not.  So make sure you have it all and if you have it, flaunt it- make sure your publicity is reassuring and welcoming.

5. How to keep people happy: Some people love being part of the action and others like to have a quiet spot to observe.  If you have a hearing impairment, being in the middle of the music can be unbearable and it makes talking impossible.  So place chairs in all areas of the space and make sure they are available, not just coat hangers.  Think of a variety of ways to take part in activities so anyone with a visual, cognitive, physical impairment can take part without feeling the pressure.  Put as much thought into catering for older people as you do for younger people and everyone’s happy.

The Age of Creativity is a network of people from arts, culture, health, care, community, academic sectors who all believe in the power of creativity to improve the health, wellbeing and quality of life of older people.  The network is free to join and it’s simple to register. By registering, you will begin to get tailored updates that include opportunities, ideas and inspiration throughout the year, including information about our new festival.  By registering your event on the festival programme, you will become part of a country-wide events listing that is marketed to networks and organisations across the country for free.

Whilst you’re there, you can find out about other events you might want to attend, as well other opportunities, such as the Age Friendly Standards, Age Friendly kitemark and Age Friendly Arts Awards.

The Age of Creativity Festival is part of a 2 year partnership project between Age UK and Age UK Oxfordshire and a wide range of partners, as a result of the Age UK Index of Wellbeing, funded by Baring Foundation and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

If you would like further information then please contact festival@ageukoxfordshire.org.uk