There are more than 100 different “Newcastles” or “New Castles” around the globe, in many different countries and in many different languages. The idea of bringing together places around the world that share the name “Newcastle” came in 1996 from the then Newcastle-based arts manager John Nicolaou. He created the “Newcastles of the World United” project, with the aim of fostering links of friendship, culture, education and tourism, hopefully leading to economic links and benefits. Check out their website: www.newcastlesoftheworld.com .
“Newcastles of the World” held their 2016 conference in Newcastle, Ontario, Canada from 19-23 September 2016. The themes of the conference were:
• How can we ensure that our towns and cities are age-friendly, capitalising on the contribution of older people to our communities?
• How can we share experience and work together to promote our Newcastles to tourists and investors?
• To ensure the continued vitality of our town centres.
• To promote cohesion and strengthen civic identity, harnessing volunteering, philanthropy and citizen engagement.
The Elders Council wanted to ensure that at least one older person from Newcastle upon Tyne had the opportunity to attend this exciting event and set up a crowdfunding page to sponsor someone to take part. Members were given the opportunity to apply to take part in the conference, and 3 applications were received.
The applications were checked by a small panel of Elders Council Board members and Councillor David Faulkner, just to ensure that they met the essential criteria. All valid applications were put into a hat, and drawn out in sequence. The winning name drawn out first was Julie Irvine.
In the build up to the conference, as well as receiving lots of donations through the crowdfunding page, we also managed to secure another source of funding, which enabled another member to attend. As Dorothy Ternent's name was drawn out in second place, she was offered the opportunity to attend too.
(Mary Nicholls, former Elders Council Chair, took up the opportunity to book a place at the conference too, but she self-funded her own place.)
Click here to read the full report.
As a thank you to those people who donated £10 for getting our Elders Council members 20 miles closer to Canada we promised to include their names as a funder on this website. They include:
The Newcastle delegation travel everywhere in a yellow school bus which they find is great fun!
Monday, 19 September: here's a photo of the EC delegates meeting some mounties in Newcastle Ontario!
On this day the group heard from other Newcastles of the World and some of the issues the towns and cities face. In the afternoon, they were welcomed by the Mayor of Clarington (the district of Newcastle, Ontario) and shown around the town. They heard about their 'Older Adult Strategy' which has a particular focus on recreation provision! They hope to share our own EC vision on Tuesday and discuss ageing in more depth with other Newcastles around the world.
Tuesday, 20 September: They spent the whole morning discussing a range of issues about ageing across many of the Newcastles of the World. They started off learning about the importance of music on our lives and particularly how it enables social connections and improved well being with people with dementia and other illnesses associated with age. The speaker was from Ontario and she suggested there is increasing research evidence that music can ameliorate loss and promote quality of life through many ways - social cohesion, participation, purpose and positive self esteem. People who may be unable to express themselves in conventional ways such as discussion and mobility can find they can do so through singing or responding to the beats in music. It was argued that music can help with speech improvement when someone cannot speak following a stroke, or walking better when experiencing parkinson's or calmness if agitated when experiencing dementia. The overall argument was that music can enable improved care and social integration.
This presentation was followed by another from Neuchatel (Newcastle) in Switzerland who are promoting an older people's strategy that takes into account an ageing population while recognising that older people are not all the same but have different needs. They want to actively promote social cohesion. Their strategy is quite developed and has a particular focus on mobility and urban design. This might involve meeting with planners and engineers and include improving the city centre to make walking around easier. Another idea was the use of cargo bikes to carry older people's shopping home (more environmentally friendly and cheaper than a taxi)!
Our own Mary Nicholls made a short presentation about the Elders Council and she emphasised the need for cities to be age friendly and to do 'nothing about us without us'. The involvement of older people in developing strategies and civic engagement was a very strong plea.
There was a wide ranging discussion about housing, getting appropriate advice and information and age friendly employment practices.
There were a number of ideas that Dorothy, Julie and Mary feel the Elders Council could discuss further.
Wednesday, 21 September: Feedback about one or two ideas from today's session at the conference. There is a proposal to have a Newcastles Passport which is about promoting a particular form of 'added value' if someone from a Newcastle is visiting another Newcastle anywhere in the world. Newcastle upon Tyne is looking at offering discounts and 'offers' such as meeting with the Mayor or special guided tours. They are thinking whether the EC could develop some sort of 'offer' as one of many on Newcastle upon Tyne's website, espcially given that so many tourists are older people.
Thursday, 22 September: Visit to Niagara falls - so it's uncertain if there will be many bright new ideas but you never know!
As older people, we know that social care is in urgent need of reform with fewer people getting the help they might need to remain independent at home. A group of Elders Council members set out to explore alternative models of care and support. Their findings are available in a report in the Reports section of the website. Elders Council is now discussing the findings with Newcastle City Council and others in the hope that more innovative models of care will be offered in the city.