27 Sept 2022

Older people's projects tackling loneliness in Derry to benefit from share of £144,000 of arts funding

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Older people in Derry are to share in £144,000 arts funding with other projects in Belfast 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.” The award-winning Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company in Derry has received funding for the second year for their ‘Poetic Movement’ project for older people. The project will be delivered with partners Strabane Community Project and Praxis Care to some of the most disadvantaged older people in the Derry and Strabane council area. The 12-week project will work with participants who face issues of isolation, loneliness and depression due to reasons including rural living or the effects of mental illness, learning disabilities, dementia or acquired brain injury. At the heart of the project is Echo Echo’s firm belief that everyone is a creative being and can engage in a rich and deep movement practice regardless of age, ability or experience. Participants in the project will work with Echo Echo’s highly skilled artist-teachers and local musicians. In County Derry, Live Music Now, based in Limavady, has received funding to deliver a programme of fortnightly participatory music sessions for men and women, over 65, attending Ballyowen Day Centre in Andersonstown and Edgecumbe Therapy and Assessment Unit in East Belfast. Musicians will facilitate participants' creative responses in the form of spoken word, singing, poetry and reminiscence. This material will be arranged musically and recordings produced by the musicians. The resultant recordings will be 'premiered' to the participants and made available digitally. Additionally in Limavady, professional musicians will deliver a programme of six monthly community concerts at the unique community venue, the Keady Clachan, a traditional stone cottage on the Keady Mountain overlooking Limavady. Older people, experiencing rural isolation, loneliness and deprivation will come together on a monthly basis to experience a range of musical genres. Visit for details on all funding opportunities Pictured above: The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has announced National Lottery funding and public funding from the Public Health Agency of over £144,000 for 19 organisations, across the region, to deliver community-based arts projects benefitting older people.

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