Meet Me At… grew out of a simple question shared by the Albany and Entelechy Arts:
‘What if isolated and lonely older people had the opportunity to go to an arts centre instead of a day centre?’
One day a week for fifty weeks a year, formerly lonely older people meet in the heart of the Albany building to work alongside artists and have the opportunity to uncover the artist within themselves. Participants are just as likely to be suspended on silks in a circus workshop, enjoying a performance of jazz, creating sculpture, writing poetry or singing in the weekly choir.
Since 2013 the project has grown far beyond the weekly club. We work in partnership with Lewisham Homes running creative sessions for residents in a number of their Independent Living Schemes across the borough and we’ve created poetry exhibitions and mini-gigs with residents.
There’s a film club: Meet Me at the Movies where we have cinema screenings for and chosen by older people. For cultural destinations there is Meet Me on the Move: monthly trips across London, from the Houses of Parliament to the Royal Festival Hall.
Befriending plays an important role within the wider Meet Me… programme. It supports volunteers to connect with isolated older people and introduce them creative activities. The volunteers develop skills to work alongside Meet Me Members who may be in need of someone to listen and provide support.
The programme continues to grow with our new club, Meet Me in the South at Downham Health and Leisure centre, which is especially designed to support people living with dementia and their carers or companions. We’re also building on a recent pilot project, Meet Me Round Yours, in which we experimented with new ways of working with participants who are no longer able to get out on a regular bases. We are connecting with specially designed individual projects, increasingly involving the use of technology, to create ways to communicate which combat isolation.
Top image shows the Meet Me At the Albany choir warming-up. Photo Roswitha Chesher.