Meet Me at The Albany

group of Older people waving arms around
arts centre cafe with people around tables

‘The kind of stereotype-smashing thing that sticks two knitting needles up at anyone who dares assume day care for older people is about flower arranging and endless cups of tea.’ Saba Salman

Meet Me at The Albany grew out of a simple question shared by Entelechy Arts and partner organisation The Albany with senior managers from our local authority London Borough of Lewisham:

“What if isolated and lonely older people had the opportunity to go to an arts centre instead of a day centre?”

Meet Me at the Albany takes place 50 weeks of the year in the café at the Albany. Activities include:

Meet Me Choir

The Meet Me Choir rehearses every Tuesday morning between 11am and 12noon. It is run by artist Rachel Bennett. Member Joan Nightingale talks about her experience:

“I’d joined the choir. I had some health problems. I told my doctor: ‘I’ve joined the choir’ she said ‘That’s the best thing you could have done for your health’. We were given exercises and I found it helped me with my chest and my lungs. I feel I’ve got a voice and I didn’t even know I had one. I’ve never looked back. We’ve done public performances and had standing ovations.”

 

Meet Me Writing

Meet Me members often have opportunities to work alongside poets and writers:

“Working with Simon Mole the poet has pointed me in directions that I wouldn’t have thought of going. I’m a Celt by birth and in a way this is getting in touch with my roots. My inner story teller is coming out. I’ve been helped with my poetry and I’m finding out that I can actually paint with words.” Huw Williams

Woman crafting a paper swan

Meet Me at the Albany. Photo credit Roswitha Chesher

Meet Me Making

Many Meet Me members are involved in a range of art making activities. Maureen Catchpole describes working on one of her latest art works:

“I was up the park and I saw this swan and I thought it would be nice to make one of those. It was sticking the feathers on that was the worst because they all have to be stuck on individually. His neck is twisted because he’s pulling himself out of the water. Its lovely when I’ve finished them and see the finished product. It gives you great satisfaction. But then it’s sad because I don’t like to finish them”

‘Meet Me’ has been cited by the Arts Council in their Create document as a model of best practice. The journalist Tanya Gold wrote: ‘This is either a unique experiment in provision for the elderly, if you write like a bureaucrat, or something as lovely and hopeful as a poem.’ Meet Me was also cited as a best practice model in the 2016 Arts White Paper.

Take Part

Meet Me at the Albany has limited capacity owing to social distancing, however we still have availability in our remote cluster groups. If you would like to volunteer with the remote programme, please contact Sophie Merriman Sophie.Merriman@thealbany.org.uk or 07981 164 938.

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