On Wednesday the 29th November at the Trinity Centre we held the Faithfully Ageing Better Event.  It was a chance to celebrate the great work that is already going on in local churches and share the key findings of a survey conducted during the first six months of the Faithfully Ageing Better project. The event was also an opportunity to think about how we can work together to develop new activities and support each other in serving older people in the community.

The day opened with a reflection by Revd Canon Angela Bailey who spoke about seeing older people as a blessing and not a burden, and the importance of really seeing and knowing the person.  She also encouraged us to acknowledge and use the wisdom and insights that older people have.  Angela used stories from her work as a priest and mental health chaplain as well as from the Bible to illustrate her talk, and it set a very positive tone for the day.

The rest of the morning was spent looking at the outcomes of the survey conducted by Faithfully Ageing Better investigating all the activities that churches in Middlesbrough provide involving older people.  The presentation was based on a report which can be found here.  Chris McGregor came to tell us about Welcome Break, a café style drop-in at St Barnabas Church in Linthorpe, and Maddy Fisher told us about the Singing for the Brain groups that are run for people living with dementia and even got us all singing a round of O When the Saints and Swing Low!  The morning was finished off with Michelle Dawson from Ageing Better Middlesbrough sharing how Faithfully Ageing Better fits into the bigger vision of Ageing Better Middlesbrough.

After a delicious lunch we went off to workshops to discuss how we could develop what churches are doing for older people in their community.  The four areas we concentrated on were: places of hospitality and welcome, support for people living with dementia, support for the bereaved, and developing opportunities to bring generations together to reduce loneliness and isolation.  There was lots of discussion and some really positive engagement.  Faithfully Ageing Better now has a clear plan of action for the next 18 months.

We would like to thank everyone who attended and contributed to the really great discussions.  If you would like to be kept up to date with developments around the four pieces areas of work please get in touch with Kate Wells by email: [email protected] or by phone: 07532 744924