A group of older people and Bristol charity, BS3 Community, were recently invited to Westminster by Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, to perform an emotional and thought provoking set of monologues about loneliness to an audience of policy makers, other community activists and professionals from health and social care.
Simon Hankins CEO of BS3 Community and Ruth Green, Community Development Manager, who set up the research group, accompanied the group and Ruth took the lead in explaining the charity’s role in the project as well as introducing participants.
The actors are all over 60 and have at some point their lives experienced loneliness, isolation, depression and undertook research in their neighbourhood to see if there were any common themes and possible solutions to these issues being faced by their peers.
Having spoken to older people in flu clinics, libraries, cafes, shops the group felt the best way to do justice to the life stories they had heard was to tell them to other people. The group worked with a producer to create a powerful and emotive set of monologues which they called “ALONELY”.
The Westminster audience were visibly moved by the performance and it was agreed that loneliness must be recognised as a mental health issue, and not something to be ashamed of.
BS3 Community is hoping that this show will build on the intergenerational work they have already been recognised for, having recently been runners up for a BAFTA as part of the team that created the Channel 4 documentary “Older People’s Home for 4 Year Olds”. Since the success of the show, the charity has continued to stay in touch with St Monica’s Trust, which manages the residence where the filming took place and have held a follow up get together at the Southville Centre, one of two community buildings that the BS3 Community runs. The older people were also invited to the opening of the second building which the charity opened in January, the Chessel Centre, where ALONELY was first performed and where Karin Smyth, a member of the audience first recognised the transformative potential of the piece.
BS3 Community is a member of LinkAge Network.