Canada - an opportunity

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: .

“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:

Robin Berks

Alison Carrick

Wendy Cocks

Marjorie De’Ath

Barrie Dolphin

Juliana Eccles

Neville Harris

Claire Horton

Lauren Hoy

Sandy Irvine

Mary Nicholls

Ann Potts

Anne Richardson

June Thexton

Peter Thomson

Conference Updates:

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!



Future Homes Project

Would you like to be part of an exciting project to design housing for people of all ages that will stand the test of time? We are looking for lively minded people aged 50+ to participate in workshops where you will work alongside architects and other experts to help design brand new demonstration housing. The plan is to locate the new housing next to Science Central.

This is a really ambitious project and the final designs will incorporate new ways of thinking about housing design; energy systems and technology.

The workshops will be informal. You don’t need to be a specialist! You DO need to have an enquiring mind and to be willing to talk and listen share your ideas.

Elders Council of Newcastle is privileged to be a partner in this ground breaking project. Future Homes Newcastle is a partnership of organisations who are leaders in their field. We have come together to test out new ideas which we believe will influence housing design worldwide.

Don’t miss this opportunity to join us on this unique and exciting journey. Places are limited and preference will be given to people who are able to attend the following workshop:

• Monday 25 September 2.00–4.30pm

The workshop will be held in a city centre venue. Transport can be provided if required.

To apply, please complete the attached application form (click here).

For further information contact [email protected] or call 0191 208 2701.

Awards for All - Creative Community Conversations on Ageing

Making our city a great place to grow old in

Over the last few years, the Elders Council has been working to create opportunities for older people to meet others and take part in interesting and sometimes challenging activities. The reason we have made this an important part of our work is because evidence shows that people who have strong networks of friends and family, and who take part in social activities, enjoy a happier and healthier older age.

Through our small grants programme, Staying Connected, we have supported over 40 groups to try out a new activity. We have held events where the groups that received the funding have come together to share what they have done. We have now published a report on our Staying Connected programme which tells the story of what we did and what we have learned along the way. The report is available - click here.

Reflecting on what we have learned from Bridging the Gaps, Staying Connected and the small research project we did on ‘Growing older in my home and neighbourhood’, we wanted to continue this work by having conversations with older people in different parts of the city. We applied to Awards for All (Big Lottery Fund) and were successful in receiving funding to enable us to host community conversations in five areas of the city.

It wasn't easy trying to decide which areas of the city to work in, but after weighing up a number of different factors, we selected the following areas: Cowgate, Kenton Bar, Montagu, Dinnington and Chapel House. We engaged with older people living in these areas in planning how and when we held the conversations.

To hear more about the conversations and our findings, please refer to the reports below:

Community Conversations in Newcastle

Community Conversations in Dinnington

We also commissioned an evaluation of this work, which was conducted by Moyra Riseborough, Consultant. Please refer to the report below:

Evaluating Creative Community Conversations

Everyone's Tomorrow, Today!

The Elders Council radio programme broadcast on 102.5fm
on the first Friday of every month from 2 to 4pm.

Our programme on Friday 3 February had as its theme the benefits of music for older people, both as participants and as listeners. First, talking together about participation are Ann Ridley and Ann Graham. Click here to hear what was said,

Next, Neville Harris came into the studio to read his poem Cause and effect.  Then Ann Ridley read her short story Play “Misty” for me.

Annette Hames, the manager of the Byker respite centre, came into the studio to talk with Ann Ridley about the benefits of music for those living with dementia.

Active Voices

The Elders Council, together with WEA, recently organised a six-week course about civic engagement called Active Voices and an Elders Council trustee was asked to take part. She reflects on her experience:

“I must admit that I didn't really have a clue as to what I was signing up for, but I am really glad I did. This was an amazing course which covered just about everything I needed to know in my role as a volunteer at various organisations (although I hadn't even realised it!).

“The sessions covered power (who has it, how to use it, etc.) and how to do research or complete a project – both subjects chosen by us, covered from planning to completion. There was even a session covering the press and media, very useful as in these days of austerity you never know when you might need to call on them with help to raise funds or advertise your event.

“The hope is that this course will roll out across the city (I know that there are already plans to hold one in Byker). So if you get the chance to go on one, please grab the opportunity – I can promise that you won't regret it.”

Note:  The Elders Council is planning to deliver more Active Voices courses in the next few months.  If you are interested in participating please email [email protected] .