THIS October a host of new initiatives by Age Friendly Newcastle aim to bring the views and experiences of older people into the spotlight to help drive change.

As part of Older People’s Month, organisations across the city are working together on Age Proud Newcastle to provide opportunities for ageing well.

Launching the programme of activity on October 1 is Newcastle’s Age Proud Champions, a call for nominations to find the unsung and vital differences older people are making.

Anne Raffle, chair of Elders Council Newcastle, said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen the use of benevolent ageism in the media. Within communities older people were to be cosseted but also left often without meaningful support.

“Older adults should not be excluded, they are a vital and necessary part of economic and community life. We’re asking people to nominate their Age Proud Champions to help recognise these essential roles, whether a volunteer, carer or someone with an inspiring attitude to ageing.”

Being creative and learning new skills, maintaining regular contact and being a part of a group can all boost positive mental health and support wellbeing.

Over the next six months artist residencies with Newcastle City Council will collaborate with university researchers, older people in the city, community groups and people living with dementia. Working within social distancing guidelines, film maker Danielle Giddins will develop scripted dramas performed by older people and a documentary focusing on the city’s care homes which explores how society can better support care settings going forward throughout the pandemic.

Creative writers Natasha Haws and Elijah Young will lead intergenerational writing workshops with participants ahead of publishing a collection of their lockdown stories and portraits.

For those not online, Equal Arts’ Create at Home packs featuring creative and wellness activities by artists are available and have been distributed by food banks and organisations including Search Newcastle and Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums.

Tom Scharf, Professor of Social Gerontology at Newcastle University, said: “Covid-19 has brought into stark relief the inequalities in ageing. While ageing is malleable and there is a lot we can do for ourselves to keep physically and mentally active and engaged, our life chances also affect our ability to age well. In age-friendly and dementia-friendly communities, we need policies and interventions to ensure everyone shares the opportunity to age well.”

To get involved in Age Proud Newcastle initiatives and activities visit https://www.informationnow.org.uk/article/age-proud-newcastle/