Christine Carlin from Older People North West Age Concern talks about her experiences with Community Arts Partnership

My name is Christine and I am the Research and Development Coordinator with older people, Northwest up in Derry.

Last year, I completed the online application process with Community Arts Partnership, and it was a fairly straightforward online application.

As the project took place during COVID, we opted to receive our workshops via video, and after a bit of discussion, we chose to do a series of videos that involved dance and movement.

We co-designed a lovely movement series of videos, six workshops with Charmain McMeekin.

Charmain had a long conversation with us on the phone, and we chatted to people who would come in to our centre and we asked them basically for their dancehall memories and we got the names of places where people liked to go. We got ideas about the type of music that was popular.

We had people sharing their memories about the kind of clothes and how they would get ready for their nights out or in fact, at one stage I think you could have danced in Derry seven days a week.

In the end, we received a lovely video on a data pen and our original idea was that we would use this in the centre and have people sort of clapping along, moving along and having a conversation about their own memories.

As always, and with the best of plans, COVID interfered once again. So we had to close the centre to public use, but we got back in touch with Community Arts Partnership and they gave us a YouTube link, which actually worked really well. So using YouTube, we were able to sort of spread out this series of videos to over 100 people, which was fantastic. And I know from feedback from various individuals, they used us as a kind of a really good motivational keep fit workshop, dancing along, singing along, at home.

We also found with the likes of our walking group, which kept running, socially distanced outdoors, that we could bring up the sessions on my mobile phone and we could share it, so it motivated people to download and watch the YouTube link, those who had the ability to do so.

Those that didn’t, we could share it in person, outdoors and in fact, very poignantly, we chose the song “You Are My Sunshine” to remember one of our walking friends who sadly passed away at the beginning of the year. So even though it was one of the coldest and darkest winter afternoons, it was made lovely by using the song.

I think “You Are My Sunshine” was possibly the motive of the entire program. I would really encourage you to make the application as we did, because it really was the sunshine at a time where it seemed nothing, or any activity, was possible.

Hear the audio of Christine Carlin at the link below

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.