Music and arts activities delight people at both ends of the age spectrum, and Care UK’s wellbeing foundation grants are giving both young and old the chance to enjoy themselves and try new activities alongside their friends.
On the Isle of Wight, The Creative Café, run by the charity Independent Arts, provides a weekly opportunity for people to meet and try something new. Project manager Caroline Ash explained: “Participating in the arts has a beneficial effect on people’s health and wellbeing. We know from our local research that, as people grow older, they have a reduced opportunity to participate in the arts and we also know that their opportunities to socialise diminish.”
Activities include singing, chair-based exercise and a range of arts and crafts. But perhaps surprisingly, it’s the group’s iPad sessions that have proved to be the most popular. “It’s wonderful to see,” Caroline said. “People have really engaged with the iPad as they don’t see it as a computer and, because we have explained that they can’t break it, they have developed confidence in using the tablets.”
The £1,700 grant from the Care UK wellbeing foundation will enable the café, at Quay Street Methodist Church, Newport, to continue into 2016. Caroline said: “We are very grateful to Care UK’s wellbeing foundation for the generous grant that will help us to keep people active all year and most importantly through the dark days of winter.
“People tell us that they see no one throughout the weekend and they look forward to their Monday morning sessions. It gives them something to get up and leave the house for. People have told us that it’s the highlight of their week and one lady, who lives with depression, has told us that the café has helped her considerably.”
Activities with friends is also the focus of Summerhill Little Mischiefs group in Bristol, to which the foundation has pledged £1,650 for art and craft materials, instruments and dressing-up clothes for the 30-plus children who regularly attend the sessions at Summerhill Methodist Church.
Karen Reed, who founded the group a year ago with fellow mum Tanya Hale and who works at Care UK’s NHS 111 contact centre in Bristol, said: “There were no mother and toddler groups within easy walking distance of the three primary schools in the area.
“Socialising is so important for children’s development and for mothers’ wellbeing too. We were overwhelmed when we heard about the grant. It will enable us to buy equipment that will not only allow the children to have fun but that will grow their imaginations and develop their coordination and motor skills.”
Belinda Moore, chair of the foundation board, said: “The board was impressed with Karen and Tanya’s drive to increase the facilities and support available to parents in their community.
“This type of group is vital in developing young minds and putting children on the right path to leading happy and fulfilled lives. We are delighted to have been able to help the group celebrate its first anniversary with this grant and we wish them, and their young members, many happy years of success.”
She added that the Creative Café team’s energy and commitment had also impressed the board, along with the tangible effect of its sessions on participants, saying that the café’s work mirrored some of the wide range of activities on offer in Care UK’s 115 homes.
The foundation was set up by independent sector health and social care provider Care UK to help groups promoting wellbeing – this year its focus is the arts. Every year the foundation sets aside 30 per cent of its investment for small, local initiatives which promote wellbeing in local communities – and often these are nominated by Care UK employees.
However, grants are open to any charity. Further applications are welcome and details of how to apply can be found at careukwellbeingfoundation.com/nominations