The Arts and Older People Project is a unique project that was established in 2010 and over the past few years has enabled local arts practitioners to deliver participatory arts based workshops for older people across Herefordshire.
The project aims to combat isolation for older people living in rural areas through direct access to the arts, and improve their personal independence by allowing them to become more active, improving health, wellbeing and quality of life.
Through the provision of training we aim to build stronger local communities who have the skills to support older people. Training sessions we have held allow arts practitioners, health care professionals and care staff to develop skills to enable them to provide arts based activities.
Through networking events, conferences, and our new Arts and Older People Forum we hope to raise awareness of older people’s issues whilst promoting models of best practice developed through projects we have initiated.
Some of our projects to date include our flagship Dementia Poetry Project which encourages communication and engagement in the arts using poetry for those with dementia, our Extend dance sessions which allow older people to increase their impedance by improving mobility and the My Story project – a film reminiscence project taking place in day care centres.
Enjoy dancing with the Courtyard’s own dance programme for older people. Movement to music for people with dementia and their carers. A chance to dance and exercise, listen to favourite old songs, reminisce and create new friendships in these relaxed and enjoyable sessions. Seated or standing, they can be fun for all.
The My Story project was a film project created by The Courtyard Centre for The Arts that aimed to capture the stories of older people across Herefordshire. The Courtyard worked in partnership with Hereford Age UK to enable those who attended local day centres to take part in the project. Toni Cook a drama practitioner and David Jones from Wind Up World Films facilitated the project and worked with the members of two day centres over a period of eight weeks.
The films created provide a greater insight into the lives of those involved. One of the positive things that came out of the project was that the focus wasn’t actually all on reminiscence and allowed those taking part to embrace positive aspects of their identity today. The project was a fantastic platform for the members to have their say on issues important to them.
The films highlighted how important the services they received were to them, including the day care centres. In one film a gentleman spoke about how volunteering had given him a new lease of life. The project ended with a celebration event at The Courtyard Centre for The Arts, where tea, coffee and cake were served in the studio theatre whilst watching the films.
World renowned ‘dementia poet’ John Killick was The Courtyard Centre for the Art’s poet in residence for three months in 2011, during which time he mentored four local poets working with people with dementia.
The four plus John were resident in specialist dementia care homes across the county, where they worked one to one and in groups with residents. They would talk and listen to the residents and work collaboratively with them to form the residents’ words into poems – sometimes based on stories and memories, sometimes in response to visual stimuli such as paintings and photographs.
An extraordinary amount of beautiful and fascinating poetry has been created, with a selection turned into two books and published. Many of the participants who have been involved in the project have come to readings of their work at The Courtyard where an audience comprised of members of the public as well as local dignitaries. Some of the participants were able to read their own poems to the groups at their residential homes.
Adult Participation Officer
Direct Line: 01432 346535
The Courtyard’s Arts and Older People's Project is kindly funded by The Big Lottery