765 reasons why this was the best summer yet!

It was only 5 weeks ago that we were preparing to kick start the Summer of Age 2015, and here we are now, already looking back at what was without a doubt our best summer of activities for all ages to date. From the youngest of 9 months checking out Shaun the Sheep with sister, mum and Nan in tow, through to a lady of 95 playing New Age Kurling, these 2 of 765 individuals really did make the summer the success that it was.

iTea4u proved as popular as ever over the summer, with 131 people attending sessions in 5 different areas of Bristol. These sessions are a friendly and informal way of giving older and young people the opportunity to get together and solve any problems that an older person might have around their pieces of technology, which can range from their tablets to their cameras.   

As well as spending their time talking tech, the sessions also gave those who attended, the opportunity to spend a bit of quality time together. Both generations have grown up in very different times and only too often do the media tend to paint particular pictures of specific generations, when in reality these couldn't be further from the truth. So, these sessions have really been proof to those attending that their expectations are only stereotypes, and so, iTea4u has not only had a massive impact on making older people more tech savvy but also it has helped both generations to develop a sense of empathy, understanding and kinship. 

New Age Kurling at LinkAge has also taken Bristol by storm with the summer seeing 9 fantastic sessions take place across the City. The beauty of the game means that neither age nor ability can give you any kind of advantage, so everyone competes at the same level, this does mean however that things can get very competitive, very quickly. 

“Age is just a number and this game is a lot of fun – we’re all equal” Older person at New Age Kurling

The Monday of week 2 saw an unusual crowd gather in Millennium Square with the youngest being 9 months old and the oldest being 80. All 39 people who attended had one common purpose that day and that was to tick off the ‘Shauns’ on the harbourside loop of the Shaun in the City walk. 

The group quickly got into the spirit things, with many donning Shaun the sheep hats as they worked together to track down the different characters. It became clear that something as simple as a harbourside walk could act as a tool to bring the generations of Bristol together. It gave people the opportunity not only to get to know others who they might not normally have met but it also helped to build connections and cohesion in Bristol’s communities.

“I really wanted to look for the Shaun’s but it is no fun on your own. This has been so much fun today, I got to see lots of Shaun’s in a really friendly and welcoming group and having the young people and little ones here has been lovely. They get so excited when we find one. The whole group has been buzzing all morning and we’ve had a real laugh. I wish we had more opportunities to do things like this. It’s nice feeling part of something and I am so glad that LinkAge arranged this.”

Throughout the summer LinkAge also worked with Young Bristol and Youth Moves to support the National Citizen Service programme. LinkAge ran both interactive and engaging workshops for young people, which encouraged them to challenge some of society’s stereotypes around age, aging and the realities of living with loneliness. We also looked at the positive solutions that LinkAge and local communities are currently implementing, with the support of young people, to tackle the issue of isolation and loneliness. From these workshops, groups of young people chose to set up 3 social action projects which included designing a local map to help older residents find their way round their community, a story board about how LinkAge has supported older people and finally a group who decided to both plan and deliver a day of fun for all ages. 

As if all of this wasn’t already enough, the summer also included a weekly Arts and Craft session which focused on Bristol’s Green Capital status. Four amazing pieces of art were created across the weeks, which showcased Bristol in all its glory. We also saw water sports sessions take place in the docks of the harbourside and a high ropes course take place in Failand. Poetry writing took place in Ashton, Cooking in Easton, Table Tennis in Avonmouth and a Sports Day in St George.  

After a busy five weeks we made sure that things didn’t stop just there, finishing with our Fun Day and Showcase at Riverside Youth Project. Over 100 people attended the day, including those who had been involved in the Summer of Age but also new faces who wanted to find out about what had gone on throughout the summer. On the day we offered a selection of activities which saw the younger and older mixing over games of table tennis and pool, scaling the walls of the youth centre’s indoor climbing, sharing stories over henna tattoos and bouncing the day away on a bouncy castle. The day really was a great opportunity to spend time with people of all ages in a fun, safe and enjoyable environment. 

In conclusion, this summer has really shown that age is just a number, and that by offering a variety of
opportunities that are open to everyone, it can enable us to learn from each other, share skills, talk about life experiences and most importantly, have fun together!!