The Senior Screen project was funded as part of Brightlife’s ‘Bright Ideas’ strand. This fund encouraged local groups, voluntary organisations and businesses to come forward with ideas to reduce isolation and loneliness for older people within areas or communities of interest.
Senior Screen was delivered over one year by Vicars Cross Community Centre, a former youth centre owned by Great Boughton Parish Council, with an award of £10,257.
Introducing a charge for a service from the start gives value to the service and makes for an easier transition when funding ceases.
Development and delivery
The idea for the Senior Screen project was developed by the Vicars Cross Community Centre after consultation with older people living in the area (accessed through the local Brightlife drop-in service) had identified isolated and lonely older people as an under-served group, and suggested that film club events and coffee mornings would be a good way to engage with them.
The existing Centre Manager at the community centre had overall responsibility for delivering the project, supported by two volunteers. Events (film clubs and coffee mornings/lunch clubs) were promoted through leaflet distribution in the local area, listings in a community magazine and networking with potential referrers (providers of community health and social care services, local businesses, etc).
Recruitment of participants was initially slow, although this gained momentum as the format of events was adapted according to feedback from those attending. Some participants questioned the age-based targeting of the events, particularly those that were not based around a theme or interest. The project team acknowledged that many people in the target group were reluctant to join a group specifically for over-50s, as they did not consider themselves to be ‘old’.
Cinema screenings at the community centre proved very popular. It was suggested by the project team that this was partly due to the small per-participant fee affecting the perceived value of these events amongst participants.
Impact and legacy
The Senior Screen project reached 97 participants in total, significantly overachieving on its target of 22 people. Delivery of cinema sessions has continued beyond the end of the Brightlife funding period, with the fee model making the programme mostly self-sustaining.
Before the Senior Screen project, very few Vicars Cross Community Centre users were aged over 50 (despite the surrounding area having one of the highest percentages of older people in the region). This completely changed as a direct result of Brightlife funding: one year on, nearly a third of the activities delivered by the centre were designed specifically for older people.