Arts project aims to beat OAP isolation

Ben Hudson and Diane Fray
Ben Hudson and Diane Fray

An art project aimed at combating isolation among elderly people is to continue after an injection of funds.

Home Is Where The Heart Is was launched last year by Community Arts Project North East (CAPNE) and music therapist Clare Hunt to work with isolated elderly people living on Wearside and South Tyneside.

The pilot project was funded by the Cultural Spring, an Arts Council England programme working to raise participation in the arts in both areas.

After the success of the initial phase, in which 11 participants aged from 55 to 94 helped record their own stories before writing them as songs and then performing them in a concert, the Cultural Spring has supported CAPNE with £5,000 to allow the project to continue.

Project organisers are now looking for help in identifying people who could benefit.

CAPNE director Diane Gray said: “We are looking for individuals from the older populations in Sunderland and South Tyneside who might like to participate in this project. These people may still be living in their own homes or may be in sheltered housing or residential care.

“We are particularly interested in residents from the Hendon ward of Sunderland and the Bede ward of South Tyneside.”

The project is based at CAPNE’s Bilton Hall base in Jarrow, and workshops will be held there; at West Harton Churches Action Station in Boldon Lane, South Shields; Albany House in Southwick, Sunderland and at Canny Space in Hendon.

Other funding for the project has come from Big Lottery’s Aawrds for All, The Barbour Foundation and the Sir John Priestman Trust.

Fellow CAPNE director Ben Hudson said: “The project will document the stories and memories of 20 individuals from the elderly population in Sunderland and South Tyneside who are in some way isolated within their community.

“The stories will be developed into an art form that the participants are interested in with music as a key focus.

“The individuals will have opportunities, through a series of workshops, to improvise through the playing of instruments, singing or vocalising in order to create a soundscape which will run through and between the songs.”

He added: “The project will culminate in a live musical performance.”

The project is already underway, with Ben and Diane working with organisations such as Age UK, Happy at Home and Albany House to identify people who could benefit from participating.

If you think you know someone who could benefit from the project, contact Ben or Diane at or