By: Sean Tunnicliffe, Communications Officer, Leeds Older People’s Forum
I recently had the pleasure of attending this event which was celebrating the International Day of Older Person. The eventwas run in partnership between Skippko Arts Team and Holbeck Elderly Aid (HEA) and took place at St Matthew’s Community Centre in Holbeck.
This event had two distinct activities; the first was looking at how people connect in Holbeck asking what’s important for keeping well, what affects your health and what makes a place age friendly.
This was done in an artistic way with a large map of Holbeck placed on a table for people to place Post-it notes with their thoughts and memories along with cut out representations of local buildings that are important to HEA service users.
The responses included access to services such as Post Offices, GPs, chemists and shops as well as leisure such as Slung Low Theatre, lunch clubs, the Yellow Bird Singing Group and the Holbeck Club.
Access to good information was also on the list with Holbeck Elderly Aid’s newsletter clearly regarded as an important read for finding out what was going on locally.
People posted about the importance of friends and companionship and having family close by and one person noted that he eats better when he’s at a lunch club.
The attendees were a lively group who as well as talking about what is available for them now also discussed how things used to be; lamenting the loss of local shops and cinemas and the clearance of the old back-to-back houses.
They also spoke about the decision to put a stretch of motorway through the middle of Holbeck Moor back in the 1970s, which is clearly no more popular now than it was back then. Speaking as someone who had a wonderful view of said motorway from my living room and bedroom back in the mid-eighties I can understand their point.
Memories and Memorabilia
The second activity involved attendees using photos and personal memorabilia to create a photographic still life, representing something important to them. You often here the phrase about it being the simple ideas that are often the best and this activity certainly seemed to bear this out.
People shared wonderful and moving personal memories as well as stories of living in Holbeck. One example was 90 year old Margaret who spoke about being the youngest of thirteen children, telling us how she never knew her mother as she died aged 42 when Margaret was just two years old. Her father fought in the First World War and was injured on the Somme and spent time in hospital recovering from his wounds.
“My sweetheart in my childhood days and my sweetheart ’till I die”
After the war he was a coal merchant delivering all around Beeston and Holbeck and Margaret shared a photo of her with her father and one of her sisters with his horse and cart. She said that she used to go on his rounds with him and open the coal grates. Margaret also brought a photo of her father in his uniform and a post card picture of her mother which had a poignant message from her father on the back.
The two activities really seemed to complement each other and showed how simple ideas can work effectively when done as well as they were at this event. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon and also very touching to hear people share very personal memories and as I lived in Holbeck (30+ years ago) when first married I was able to share memories of my own.
Each year, since 1998, Leeds has celebrated the International Day of Older Persons (1st October).
In Leeds celebrations extend beyond that day usually for around a week with a series of community events that are inclusive of all communities and recognise the contribution older people make to the City of Leeds.
The Aim of IDOP
The aim of IDOP Leeds is to ensure that the City of Leeds promotes and celebrates the International Day of Older Persons and promotes the values of:
- a positive view of old age
- older people being enabled to lead active healthy and involved lives as citizens of the city
- full participation of older people in the decisions and processes which affect their lives
- challenging the barriers faced by older people to independence, inclusion and equality
- older people being treated with respect and dignity at all times
IDOP Leeds is organised by Leeds Older Peoples Forum with the support Leeds City Council Public Health, Leeds City Council Adult & Health Equality and Diversity, Leeds City Council Museums & Galleries, Leeds City Council Libraries and Information Service and older people themselves.
For more information about the International Day of Older Persons 2019 please contact Sean Tunnicliffe, Leeds Older People’s Forum (0113 244 1697) or firstname.lastname@example.org