Care UK grant helps to improve health and wellbeing of older people on the Isle of Wight

June 16, 2015

An Isle of Wight café that encourages older people to keep active and engaged through arts-based activities can continue into 2016 thanks to a grant from the Care UK wellbeing foundation.

The foundation was established by the independent health and social care provider to promote wellbeing through the arts.

The Creative Café, run by Isle of Wight charity Independent Arts, provides a weekly opportunity for people to meet and try something new. Project manager Caroline Ash explained: “There is empirical medical evidence that shows that participating in the arts has a beneficial effect on people’s health and wellbeing. We know from our local research that, as people grow older, they have a reduced opportunity to participate in the arts and we also know that their opportunities to socialise diminish.

“We wanted to address this imbalance through using a wide range of activities in an environment where people felt happy, relaxed and able to comfortably meet and socialise.”

Activities include singing, chair-based exercise and a range of arts and crafts. But it is the group’s iPad sessions that have proved to be the most popular. “It is wonderful to see,” Caroline said. “People have really engaged with the iPad as they do not see it as a computer and, because we have explained that they can’t break it, they have developed confidence in using the tablets.”

Caroline and the team of 10 volunteers have been able to help café visitors install apps and explore the internet. “There is something for everyone and men and women can enjoy the sessions and find something of interest. We find that for those who have always lived on the island, as well as those who have retired here, when a spouse dies they are often at a loss.

“Their children live on the mainland and finding new friends and activities can be hard, especially for men whose wives have been the driving force in their social life. Our Monday morning café gives them a chance to try something new, meet new people and, because they are engaged in an activity, they do not feel awkward about chatting.”

The £1,700 grant from Care UK will enable the café, at Quay Street Methodist Church, Newport, to continue into 2016. Caroline said: “We are very grateful to the Care UK Wellbeing Foundation for the generous grant that will help us to keep people active all year and most importantly through the dark days of winter.

“People tell us that they see no one throughout the weekend and they look forward to their Monday morning sessions. It gives them something to get up and leave the house for. People have told us that it is the highlight of their week and one lady, who lives with depression, has told us that the café has helped her considerably.”

Belinda Moore, chair of the foundation board, said: “Throughout Care UK’s 115 care homes our activities coordinators use arts and crafts to help people maintain life-long hobbies as well as to discover new talents. The board were impressed with the energy and commitment of the café’s team and the tangible effect the sessions have on people’s wellbeing and we hope their success in gaining this grant will encourage charities with similar projects to apply to the foundation.”

Care UK provides healthcare services at HMP Isle of Wight.