The judges cited the venue’s pioneering partnership project with isolated older people, Meet Me at the Albany, as a key success.


We’ve been nominated alongside Birmingham Museums Trust and Live Music Now.

The Charity Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious awards scheme in the sector and its most highly-regarded excellence recognition scheme. All 28 shortlisted charities this year have been judged by an independent panel of sector leaders as having demonstrated best practice in leadership and management, from which other organisations can learn.

Meet Me at the Albany provides a range of arts engagement activities for older people in Lewisham who are either at risk of, or have experienced social isolation and exclusion. It is run by the Albany and Entelechy Arts thanks to support from Lewisham Council, Lewisham Homes and Arts Council England.

Meet Me at the Albany has been cited as a pioneering example of how communities and arts organisations can support older people to live happier, healthier and more independent lives. Charity Awards judge Cathy Phelan-Watkins said the project was ‘very good value for money compared to your average day care costs’. She was also impressed that 60 per cent of the charity’s income was earned.

Gavin Barlow, Chief Executive of the Albany said:

‘We’re thrilled to have been nominated for such a prestigious award. The Meet Me at the Albany programme exemplifies the huge impact arts organisations like ourselves and Entelechy Arts can make on health and well-being when they’re supported by brilliant partners like Lewisham Homes and Lewisham Council.’

The project launched over five years ago in response to health and wellbeing concerns about older people in the borough. The original concept came from Lewisham Council who wanted to address the need for day centres for older adults to become more effective. The Albany – as the leading arts organisation in the borough – and our project partner Entelechy Arts – as a company specialising in work with marginalised and excluded communities – were challenged to come up with something better, and Meet Me at the Albany was born.

The programme has since grown from a weekly all-day arts club in the Albany café, to a range of projects which include a touring choir, cultural day trips across London, a befriending scheme to support older volunteers and a dementia-friendly film club. Our pioneering partnership with social housing provider, Lewisham Homes, has also allowed us to expand the project into supported living schemes across Lewisham. Meet Me at Lewisham Homes brings professional artists and facilitators into communities to work with residents particularly at risk of social isolation, including those unable to leave their homes.

Jon Kanareck, Director of Resident Services at Lewisham Homes said:

‘The partnership between the Albany and Lewisham Homes is unique, bringing residents together from across our independent living schemes encouraging creativity, improving wellbeing and reducing social isolation in a holistic and imaginative way. The Albany facilitators really get to know residents and the laughter that comes from the sessions is testament to the joy they bring.’

Lewisham has a number of health and wellbeing concerns with regards to older people. The borough ranks in the top 20% of the most deprived areas in England, with the primary wards we serve, Evelyn and New Cross, being some of the most challenged in the borough.

38% of pensioners in Lewisham live alone and nationally, 39% of over-65s say they feel cut off from society with almost half of them (about 5 million) considering the television as their main form of company. We see the role of initiatives like Meet Me at the Albany as vital in sustaining the health and wellbeing of some of Lewisham’s most vulnerable residents.

Meet Me at The Albany happens almost every Tuesday, 50 weeks per year, with 1,400 attendances throughout the year, and we engage over 200 older people per year across the wider programme of activity.

The Charity Award Winners will be announced at a black-tie dinner on 5 June, held in the grounds of the Tower of London. The evening will be hosted by the Rev Richard Coles, who will be joined on the night by a host of celebrities, representatives of the shortlisted charities, as well as leaders from Britain’s best known and best loved charities.

Matthew Nolan, chief executive of Civil Society Media, which organises the Charity Awards, congratulated the Albany on making the highly-coveted shortlist. He said:

‘Once again we received a record number of entries to the Charity Awards, and the breadth and quality of the work being done by charities across the sector continues to astonish. The Albany should be very proud to have made the shortlist. All the nominees on this year’s shortlist are examples of large and small charities who are truly leaders in their field.’

You can read the full 2019 Shortlist by following this link.


Top image: Roswitha Chesher