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A PROJECT to help vulnerable older people re-connect with their creative passions is being piloted in Melksham.
The ‘Creative Conversations’ project is connecting isolated older residents over the phone with volunteer creative artists who through weekly phonecalls, empower the person to reengage with an activity they used to enjoy.
There are currently five participants taking part in the project, which was launched in October by Celebrating Age Wiltshire – a county-wide project delivering culture and heritage events and activity in community settings to support the wellbeing of vulnerable older people.
Celebrating Age Wiltshire is working in partnership with local organisation, Age Friendly Melksham, who identify and refer residents to the project.
Speaking at December’s Melksham Area Board meeting, creative producer for Celebrating Age Wiltshire, Rebecca Seymour, described the ‘Creative Conversations’ project as “more elaborate than a wellbeing phonecall”.
“Our creative artists are used to working with individuals or groups who may have depression, mental health problems, or perhaps from hospital,” explained Rebecca. “They work with the participant on the phone to try and encourage them to try and find out what they used to love doing and try to re-engage and re-empower the person to start participating in that activity again.
“Whether it is from home, just through discussion, or eventually, hopefully, through other people. And perhaps even eventually going back to a group. But they offer stimulation and the re-engagement to try something new or to go back to the things that they used to do.”
“By the end of the 10 weeks we really hope that the participant will have started doing some of those activities again or just engaging back in to some of those things that they used to do – and that might even be just writing a diary about things that have happened in the garden, observing the birds. But also, hopefully, being more creative, and stimulating their wellbeing.”
Learning from the pilot project in Melksham, which has been funded by the Wiltshire Community Fund, will help and support the ‘Creative Conversations’ project to be rolled out to other areas in Wiltshire.
Other arts and heritage activities delivered by Celebrating Age Wiltshire across the county include online concerts and performances, and outdoor concerts, which involve artists visiting vulnerable older people to perform outside their homes – a project that will be coming to Melksham in January and February.
For more information about Celebrating Age Wiltshire, visit www.wiltshiremusic.org.uk/learn-take-part/celebrating-age