Writing project receives £100k boost


A project to inspire older people in the Midlands to get writing has been awarded about £100,000.

Arts Council England has given Writing East Midlands £99,531 for The Elder Tree – a scheme to empower groups of older people through story-telling, memoir writing, poetry, group reading and role-play.

The funding is part of the Celebrating Age programme, jointly funded by the Arts Council through the National Lottery and the Baring Foundation.

It aims to tackle issues of social isolation and wellbeing in older people, encouraging them to join in group activities focused around arts and culture.

The three-year Elder Tree project will encourage participants across the region to take inspiration from museums, archives, heritage spaces and professional writers, and create new work in response to them.

It will aim to embody an ethos of celebration, tackling issues of social isolation and wellbeing in older people, encouraging them to join in group activities such as story-telling and reading.

Henderson Mullin, chief executive of Writing East Midlands, said: “We are absolutely delighted that ‘The Elder Tree’ has won this funding.

“It’ll enable us to do significant work across various communities in the region building, as we go, our understanding of how sharing arts activity can positively affect people’s lives, and strengthening the case for increased investment in this sort of work.”

The region-wide project will also celebrate the wealth of experience, knowledge and talent older people bring to communities, especially in the former coalfield areas of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, rural parts of Lincolnshire, former steelwork centre Corby, and inner-city areas in Leicester.

Led by Writing East Midlands, the project will be delivered by a consortium which includes Creative People and Places, First Art and Made in Corby, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, and Museums and Development East Midlands, working with non-arts focussed organisations Age UK, Extra Care Charitable Trust, Orders of St John Care Trust and University of the Third Age.

Peter Knott, Area Director for Arts Council England, said: “Taking part in artistic and cultural activities can make a huge difference in the lives of everyone, even more so when people are at greater risk of isolation.

“The Elder Tree invites people to share stories and memories as part of a group, and this a great way to not only stimulate creativity, but to make new friends too.

“This will make a huge difference, helping reduce feelings of loneliness as it brings people and communities together.”

In the Midlands, £397,531 has been shared between four major projects that showcase, curate and celebrate art created by, with and for older people, making cultural spaces more open and welcoming.

Celebrating Age was developed in response to figures from the Taking Part Survey, which shows that participation in arts and culture falls dramatically over the age of 75.

A combined total of £1,530,030 has been awarded to 16 organisations across the country.

Writing East Midlands is also an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation for 2018-22 and is set to receive regular funding totalling £724,176 throughout the period.