TAP is always busy delivering new and exciting projects for the benefit of our members
Get Online Project
Our Get Online project arose as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic and older people having to self-isolate at home for long periods of time to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. An initial phone survey in April 2020 found a majority of our users not having access to a digital device or the internet. However, over half had a smartphone often their only contact with the outside world. The project proper ran for 6 months from August 2020 to January 2021 and consisted of the following elements:
Alongside the project was the process of transferring many of our programmes and sessional activities (and including some new services such as Chat Rooms) online to a range of digital platforms and in conjunction with our delivery partners piloting and developing new good practice mostly by trial and error methods and the purchase of new IT equipment at the centre. We were all on a learning curve and the work had a dramatic impact upon the way that we had to deliver our services differently.
The APPLE-Tree Research Study
The Apple Tree programme is a large ESRC/NIHR funded 5-year programme led by Professor Claudia Cooper at University College London. The project aims to develop wellbeing group programmes to reduce dementia risk in older people who report problems with their memory but don’t have dementia. The plan is to make and test a prevention programme to lower older people’s chances of getting dementia. The half of older people (aged 60+) who have problems with “cognition” (memory, orientation and other thinking) have more chance of getting dementia, so we will design an approach that works for them. The programme was designed with people who will use, run and pay for it, and there is an especial focus on how it will work for people from more deprived and minority ethnic groups, who are more likely to get dementia.
The first stage of the project was a qualitative study involving older people with memory problems and other stakeholders designing and piloting a preventative activities programme. Sessions developed and delivered as part of a 10-week pilot programme included a healthy diet, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and being physically, socially and mentally active.
Our involvement was for two of our workers (Philomena and Maria) being trained as group facilitators and support workers for the older people recruited and taking part during the first stage. TAP facilitators acted as the day to day contact with study participants helping them plan the changes they wanted to make and chat about progress. They received training to enable them co-deliver the 10 pilot sessions. Stage one was completed in October 2020 with some significant positive results that hopefully will pave the way for the roll out of a national scheme for those with memory issues.
The programme could make a huge difference to individuals, the NHS and society, by reducing the number of people who get dementia. More than 850,000 people in the UK have dementia and that may top one million by 2025.
We are tremendously grateful to Tony, Philomena, Maria and colleagues at the Third Age Project for all your support right from the beginning and throughout. We wouldn’t have been able to start APPLE- Tree and continue so well without your support!
Professor of Psychiatry of Older Age
UCL Division of Psychiatry
Age Exchange is a series of intergenerational initiatives and events with the aims of bringing together the different generations both young and old. We strongly feel that any initiatives that bring the generations together in meaningful ways should form a fundamental part of our approach in improving older people’s wellbeing. We regularly hold intergenerational events in local primary schools.
Back to School Day Event
A particular high point was when TAP and Netley Primary School came together for a day with children and TAP users devising the day and deciding on a timetable of favourite activities that included Getting to Know You sessions, Storytelling, Gardening, Singing, Drama. Boccia and Keep Fit classes and the inevitably bingo! TAP users were welcomed by the children and shown around the school and were served tea and biscuits and had school lunch together. Children were interested in the fact that some TAP users had been cooks and dinner ladies at the school many years before when all food was freshly prepared on site! Lillian, a TAP user was 90 years old on the day and a birthday cake was baked with the whole school singing happy birthday! The grand finale at the end of the day was when third age drama put on a musical show in front of the whole school of hundreds of children. Many month’s later children when asked what was their favourite event of the year unanimously stated it was when the old people came to see us! The event was sponsored by British Land and facilitated by their staff as part of a corporate volunteering day.
Sharing & Exchanging Events
Other intergenerational events at the school have included a Games Morning with TAP users and children sitting around 12 tables being taught by each other different board games such as Majong, Tiddly Winks, Snakes and Ladders.
The local Children’s Centre is another partner in our intergenerational initiatives with monthly visits to our Centre by the pre-school nursery children taking place. Events have included Singalongs, making pancakes (on Pancake Day), crafts and making music together. The children love coming and they always get some kind of treat to take away!
We see the immense ethnic, culture and religious diversity of our users an amazing community asset to be shared and appreciated by everybody. As a result, different ethnic groups are encouraged and supported in putting on cultural and celebratory events that have included food, music, dance, song and cultural information.
Chinese New Year is always a major event that takes place in January/February each year with lots of preparations involved. A sumptuous traditional meal is prepared by a retired profession chef followed by ancient and popular songs including a retired Peking Opera singer! Participants can obtain their individual horoscopes and customs explained. Participants can even learn a few words of Mandarin and Cantonese.
Our first Filipino Cultural Event was motivated by the need of one fifth of our users who derive from the Philippines to be given higher recognition and presence within the Charity. It also helped to bring together people from the many regions of that country that had different customs and home languages.
EID is another important and popular social event with our older Bangladeshi and Muslim female users putting on their best Sari and cooking their traditional food to share with everybody. Traditional dance has always been prominent and forms a mainstay of any event and in others learning new dance skills.
Respect for the Elderly Day Event Wonderfully colourful events put on in partnership with the London branch of The Japan Society that provides many opportunities to learn all things Japanese include dressing up in beautiful Kimonos (even the men!). An uplifting ad memorable event.
International Languages Day in October each year provides wonderful opportunities for users who derive from four corners of the world to celebrate their own customs, traditional costumes and food. As it is usually held in school half term it is a family affair that allows children to also dress up and be proud of their origins.
Please check the latest TAP newsletter for forthcoming social and cultural events.
TATE Exchange Weekend
We were a major player in a collaborative three-day event facilitated by Flourishing Lives in conjunction with Tate Modern that had the aim of challenging ageism and the stereotyping of older people in all its forms.
We successfully delivered 5 hours of organised peer-led activities each day from 12 noon to 5 pm for the 3 days of the event held on 26th, 27th & 28th April at Tate Modern on the South Bank. We were also distinctly different from others by being peer-led, our diversity, our energy and enthusiasm (we were regarded as being very lively). The event required a lot of advance planning by teachers, TAP staff and users as it involved recruiting, training and supporting older people to themselves become the facilitators and teachers for the workshops being delivered at Tate Modern.
Tackling Local Food Poverty with local partners
Together with our partners the Euston Food Bank, the Trussell Trust, Harvist Trust and the Regents Park Time Bank we help tackle local food poverty that has arisen from the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic, social and health consequences.
During the height of the Pandemic in 2020 we set up the Regents Park Food Bank at our centre supporting over 1,000 local residents of all ages with over £50K of donated food distributed. We had to significantly reduce the scale of the Food Bank in order to re-open once again as an older people’s activity hub. However, we still continue to operate a small emergency Food Bank and regularly give out food vouchers to local people experiencing crises and urgent need. We have given out over £20K of food in this way over the last year.
During school holidays we arrange FAMILY DAYS in conjunction with the Regents Park Time Bank to ensure that local families with young children in need receive free nourishing healthy meals. We are an active member of the Camden Food Network that aims to coordinate referrals for food and other needs across the borough between member organisations.