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Let’s celebrate ageing

The Age Proud Festival is coming to Leeds this Autumn. We thought you should get a sneak preview so we’ve spoken to a few
of the key people involved.

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August 2021

Linda Glew, Time to Shine Programme Manager:

 

Why are you planning an Age Proud Festival?

Initially, we wanted to celebrate the diverse range of activities for older people there are across the city. We wanted to promote the wellbeing of older people. And have some fun! Also, to challenge the stereotypes and perceptions we all may have about getting older. Turn some of the negatives into positives. That’s the Age Proud mission. I suppose in current times, we wanted to try and celebrate the end of Lockdown. To start seeing people out of the house and get back to face-to -face. Celebrate that people are able to do some of the things they might have put behind them for 18 months. So, a marker that restrictions have eased. One of our key themes is wellbeing. We want to highlight that doing activities and getting involved is good for your mental and physical health.

 

Who is involved and what are some of the highlights?
There’s quite a wide range. There are chair aerobics sessions from Home Instead. We’ll have dance from Yorkshire Dance and Bollywood from Woodlesford Over-50s Dance Group. Ukulele sessions in Bramley. Bibliotherapy – that’s a bit different. More dance with Ascendance, working with people living with Parkinson’s. The Leeds Owl Trail will be doing some guided walks. There’s an online programme of activities. This will be live by the time you read this. Some of the events will be bookable, some you just turn up. If it’s in person, you’ll probably have to book. We have events all across the city. Different organisations will run things in their own communities.

 

What impact will Covid have on festivities?

There are about 40 different organisations who are doing an event for the festival. We’ve asked all the festival providers to tell us if they’re planning to do face-to-face activities, or digital. Or even a hybrid blend of the two. So, we do have a good mix of ways to get involved. There are some people who are keen to things face-to-face, but an awful lot of it is digital. The digital stuff will go ahead regardless. But we have asked everyone planning face-to-face activities to give us a Plan B – you never know what might happen with Covid! They say the lifting of restrictions is irreversible, but we do have to have a Plan B. But also, we’ve asked everyone to make sure that any activities they do are Covid-secure. Not just with regard to guidance and rules, but also how they are dealing with people’s sensitivities and anxieties. All our providers will attend a Zoom call with Public Health for a briefing on their current guidance and what they expect people to be doing for Covid security. Hopefully that might alleviate providers’ own anxieties about events. Nobody wants to put anyone else at risk and we all want people to be safe.

 

What about the city centre?

We’ll be at Leeds Museum for 3 days between 9 – 11th September. Those days are managed by Leeds Older People’s Forum and Time to Shine. The idea is that you can drop in. There’ll be a schedule of workshops, music and other performances. We’ll have stalls from organisations who work with older people too. People are welcome to come along to find out about all the things that are going on. Open to everyone.

 

What do you hope for the Age Proud Festival?

Mainly, what we are trying to achieve is that people make new connections. Find out about new things to get involved in. Become part of something. There really is something for everyone in Leeds. The more I learn, the more I think that when I retire, I’ll be so busy! There is so much stuff going on!

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We aim to showcase
the city of Leeds
as a great,
community focussed city
with lots to offer
older people
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Alan Lyddiard, Performance Ensemble:

 

We’re doing Promise of a Garden at Leeds Playhouse in August. At the festival we’ll do an extract from that show. It’s storytelling; it’s music; it’s dance. You actually see a garden grow in front of your eyes. We’ll do a 35 – 40 minutes extract from that show. That’ll be in the Museum. We’ll do that at the beginning of the festival.

 

At the end of the festival, we’ll have a round table discussion about what we could do for 2023. 2023 is a big year for Leeds, the year of culture. We’re planning our Bus Pass project - it's a collaboration between Leeds Playhouse, Leeds 2023, and Leeds Older People's Forum. We want to have 16 Double - Decker buses and 1000 older people, all taking part. But can we? We want to involve older people in the process with us - and we could start that as part of the festival. Brainstorming, ideas collection, getting people involved, getting people started. If you’re interested, come along - either in real life or digitally.

 

This festival is important because it’s about recovery. Meeting people, connecting people, being creative with people. It’s a crucial part of the process of recovery. It’s going to take time. It’s going to be complicated. People are still going to be apprehensive, I think. Getting on buses, travelling into town. It’ll take time and we have to be gentle with people. If you’re with someone you know, and you have a team of people you know then perhaps it’ll be easier.

 

Adie Nivison, Yorkshire Dance:

 

We’re going to offer people different ways to engage with dance. We’ll invite people to a couple of open Zoom sessions. Throughout lockdown we’ve been doing digital dance sessions to our Dance On groups. And we want to make these public. Just so people can see what it’s like. Come along, have a go, see if it’s for you. Then, if you like it, sign up to come every week. It’s an uplifting, creative dance session with no previous dance experience needed. We are starting in-person sessions again, but we thought we’d carry on with the digital sessions – it’s a good way of getting moving without leaving your house. We want to whet people’s appetites for dance!

 

We’re also working with Performance Ensemble on their ‘Promise of a Garden” project. A group of our Dance On participants have learned some choreography and they will perform as part of the bigger production. The group are part of our regular Dance workshops but have let us know they are interested in more performance work – this is a way they can scratch that performing itch.

 

Then we’re going to do something called Strike a Pose (Red Carpet Realness). This is inviting older people to be their most fantastic selves, get dressed up, get on their glad rags – and come down to the Museum as part of the big Age Proud festivities. We’ll have a dance to learn and then people can strut their stuff on the catwalk! We have a red carpet! That’s really about celebrating the diversity of older people. We don’t want to wear beige. We don’t want knitted cardigans, we want to be fantastic and free! We’ll have some lovely clothes for people to put on to make them feel more fabulous if they want to. After lockdown – and the drabness of wearing jogging bottoms all day – we want to have an opportunity to dust ourselves down and be the fabulous peacocks that we are. To strut, strike a pose and enjoy ourselves.

 

Andrea Ellison, Leeds Libraries:

 

The festival provides us with an opportunity to share some of the rich resources of the library. And it gives us a chance to re-engage with older people. One of the things we have at Central Library is the Special Collections – it’s a real treasure trove of books and rare items than are usually locked away securely. People don’t get to see them generally. So, we’ll be getting some of those items out and doing a tour of them around the city. These special items belong to the people of Leeds, and they deserve a chance to see them. We’ll take the items to older people’s groups – hopefully to spark connections with people’s lives.

 

We’re planning lots of special sessions for the Age Proud Festival. We’ll have a couple of tours of the Central Library – a tapestry tour with tea and cake too, if we can. The Leeds Tapestry was created for the Millennium and it celebrates our history and culture. Then there’s special guided tours of the Central Library. There are lots of hidden bits and pieces to look out for in the building. Also some special Ancestry sessions, especially for older people. Teaching people how to find out about their families, using our databases. And a Drop in and Draw session focused on older people too.

 

We’ve got a lot of resources at the library of special interest to older people. Looking at old photographs, seeing streets you might recognise from when you were growing up. I love that too, looking at how the world was when I was younger! And the area where I lived. Also providing social connections – that’s a big part of what we do. And the libraries are just there when you need them. You can drop in at any time. I suppose we want people to be reminded that we’re back open after the restrictions of the pandemic.

 

Sarah Prescott, Communities Officer - Age Friendly and Dementia Friendly Leeds

 

We’ll be doing a couple of public sessions around ageism. We want to raise awareness about the issues connected with getting older and change attitudes towards ageing. The Dementia Friends session is about helping people get more understanding about the disease and how it might be to live with dementia.

 

We will be doing something around benches for the festival. Leeds Civic Trust have put benches in different communities and local people have worked with artists to make them really beautiful. The Age Friendly Steering Group is really keen on the idea of benches after seeing the Horsforth Natter Bench. They’d like to see benches in other areas. Watch this space – and get involved! Where are the places you think need more benches? Come down to the Museum and tell us.

 

Our work is about making change, shifting attitudes and having a conversation about ageing. We hope the festival can help us do this!

 

Lesley Wilcock, Age Proud Festival Coordinator:

 

It’s my job to bring everything together – make sure all the people providing events have everything they need to make the festival happen and to make sure that everyone who would like to attend an event can do so. The festival will run between 6th and 17th September at a range of venues across the city, as well as lots of virtual events from the comfort of your own living room. You can find out information about what is happening, where, when and how to join by visiting www.ageproudfestivalleeds.org.

 

The website is being updated every day with new events and experiences.

I’m 63 so I’m slap-bang in the middle of the target audience. For me, age is just a number; it’s just how you feel and how you mentally deal with it. I keep fit, keep my brain active. The one thing I can’t do is sit  still - and I know there are lots of people in the same boat as me.

 

We aim to showcase the city of Leeds as a great, community focussed city with lots to offer older people. A place where people can feel involved and valued. We want the festival to highlight that getting older doesn’t mean you’re getting weaker, or poorer, or slower; you’re a valid member of society with a huge amount to offer.

 

The festival will bring a wide range of activities and events for older people to experience and enjoy. An opportunity to try something new, embark on some self-improvement or just watch something that interests or entertains.

 

Leeds already has a huge amount going on for older people to be involved with and we want to highlight that too. The festival will be an inclusive accesible event and we want everyone to be a part of it and enjoy themselves. Put the dates in your diary – and come along and get involved!

 

All the most up-to-date information about the Age Proud Festival can be found at www.ageproudfestivalleeds.org

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The Age Proud Festival is coming to Leeds this Autumn. We thought you should get a sneak preview so we’ve spoken to a few
of the key people involved.

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