Irlam and Cadishead Older People's Arts Project

Photography produced by participants fo the Irlam & Cadishead Older People's Arts Project

The Irlam and Cadishead Older People's Arts Project was developed through a partnership between the Healthy Communities Collaborative (HCC), NHS Salford Health Improvement Team, New Prospect Housing and the Arts Development Service. The need to develop creative activities for older people forms part of the Irlam and Cadishead Community Action Plan.

By setting up the project we wanted to offer alternative activity to older people in Irlam and Cadishead, and to engage older people in cultural activity that does far more than pass the time. We wanted creativity to improve the lives of older people by means of self-expression, increasing confidence, affirming identity through stories, celebrating existing skills and nurturing new ones.

Since March 2007, we arranged creative workshops by seven experienced community artists in two sheltered housing schemes. The Meadows in Cadishead and The De Traffords in Irlam. The project was funded through Arts Council England's Grants for the Arts scheme.

"It's great that the group feel confident to carry on by themselves. As a teacher, it is my aim for independent learning. A great outcome!"
Debra Tracey, artist, talking about the Meadows' mosaic group

Participant case study: Arthur

Arthur, who has a severe visual impairment, and his son Alan, attended many of the workshops at The De Traffords from almost the beginning of the project. Arthur always seemed to enjoy being around people and the activity but his visual impairment meant he felt unable to take part in workshops and simply sat on the sidelines, politely declining any offer of participating. Most of his unwillingness seemed to stem from the idea that he might not be very good at the work and 'make a mess' of it.

Gradually, however, with the support of the warden, other residents, his son and the artists, Arthur has taken an increasingly active part in the workshops, and particularly the group mosaic, which has a strong tactile element to it. His confidence has noticeably increased as a result and really shows how the arts, and an experienced, supportive community artist can help someone to take a more active role in his surroundings and visibly benefit from the engagement.