Eight years ago a small silvery seed was planted in Westminster to tackle worsening isolation and loneliness among older people against a backdrop of austerity through 19 fun and free events for older residents. Now, every October, Silver Sunday bursts into life across the UK, bringing colour, variety and joy to the older people in our communities with tea parties, art classes, tai chi, walks, walking football, boat trips, dances and celebrations. In 2018 around 1,000 events attended by tens of thousands flourished around the UK, bringing people together to make new connections, learn new skills and help older people on a thriving path, keeping their minds, bodies and social connections active.
In London alone we have hundreds of events yet every year with Westminster, The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and Barnet creating full programmes for their older residents as well as those beyond their borough boundaries – catering for a spectrum of interests and abilities from the fully mobile to the house bound. For 2019 we already have a ‘Life Drawing’ class in the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace registered on our national Event Map which fills up throughout the summer in the run up to Silver Sunday (6th October 2019).
Yet every silver lining has a cloud. One of the hardest challenges we face is listening to the disappointment of the older people and carers who have missed out on places at events close to them. They tell us how much of a difference more opportunities like this can make to their lives. An Age UK December 2018 report estimated 198,000 older Londoners hadn’t met up with a friend in over a month, with half a million older people in the UK expecting to feel lonely at Christmas, for which 79% had not sought any help. The research coincided with our final and largest Silver Sunday event of last year with an annual Tea Dance at The Grosvenor House Hotel welcoming 1,000 older London residents for an afternoon of sumptuous tea, entertainment and dancing. We know how important this has become in their annual calendar and the feedback reminds us what a different it makes. One guest told us had it not been for her invitation should would otherwise have been “at home pacing up and down inside”. 88% of the guests told us they had made a new friend at the Tea Dance and another thanked us “for a short bright moment in a very gloomy world”.
We have a very bold ambition for 2019 to double our impact through 2,000 events reaching 100,000 older people nationally creating more time, places and spaces to give older people the opportunity to thrive.
We talk about Silver Sunday as bridging divides and that everyone is welcome. Charities and organisations which work with older people year round embrace Silver Sunday for its uplifting celebratory feel with festivals and parties, knowing that people across the country are recognising the value and contribution older people give to our society. Local authorities work with local groups, charities and businesses to create programmes of activities for their older residents. School children visit care homes and older people’s groups to spark intergenerational joy. Cultural institutions and libraries open their doors with accessible learning experiences to bridge the technological divides some older people are experiencing. Walking football tournaments reignite a competitive team spirit in retirees seeking companionship and purpose. We provide the platform and tools for these incredible people to make a difference around an issue that really matters.
How can you help?
- We need help in spreading the word, sowing seeds, inviting and inspiring people to create events and activities for Silver Sunday in 2019. Can you suggest events in your organisation, community group or ask your local authority to get involved?
- Can you encourage existing activities and groups to create Silver Sunday themed events in October welcoming an older audience?
We ask all event hosts to register the events on our website so that they appear on our Event Map for older people and their carers to find. Here you will also find all the tools, tips, ideas and inspiration for creating a thriving event to celebrate older people.
We are very happy to help you create a Silver Sunday programme or event and provide advice on partnerships, collaboration, ideas and running events. We invite you to get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org and to visit our Silver Sunday website.