HOP network meeting – 10th September looks at how to engage with older men

Our next HOP network meeting is on 10th September from 3pm to 5pm. As always, we’re exploring a new venue, and this time FACT have kindly offered to host the meeting in the Box.

A number of projects and research reports have popped up over the last few months and made us think that it would be a good idea to dedicate a HOP network meeting to the issue of how to involve and welcome older men in arts and cultural activities.

Firstly, this report from Independent Age sets out clearly the scale of the problem – there are as many as 700,000 socially isolated older men in England, they are less likely to seek help if they are lonely, and there are increased mental and physical health risks associated with social isolation as men get older.  The report contains a range of recommendations including some specifically for the voluntary and community sector, such as monitoring the gender balance in your social activities; and developing projects which offer men the opportunity to use and teach their existing skills through volunteering.

At the next HOP meeting, our guest speaker will be Esme Ward, Head of Learning and Engagement at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. The gallery has recently won the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year prize after a spectacular refurbishment. Community engagement was at the heart of the gallery’s redesign, and as part of that process the Whitworth has developed a handbook about engaging older men in cultural activity. Esme will be sharing the story of this project with us in September.

Closer to home, FACT are working with older men from the north end of the city on a digital heritage project and will be sharing information about what they have been doing, including creating podcast walking tours.

We’re also really thrilled that we have secured a small amount of funding to offer HOP Pot grants again for Autumn 2015. There will be 10 grants of £300 available for community groups working with arts organisations to create activities for older people. The funding can be used to break down the barriers which prevent this kind of work from happening – for example previous grant recipients paid for transport, artist fees, materials, refreshments and publicity. We’ll be sharing details of how to apply at the meeting.

We’ll look forward to seeing you all in September. In the meantime, enjoy what is left of the summer!

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