Leicester Ageing Together

In this action research project, we explored the impact of digital tools on the creativity and wellbeing of older people in Leicester.

The brief

With Funding from The Nominet Trust and The Baring Foundation’s Digital Arts and Creative Ageing award, we explored the impact of digital tools on the creativity and well-being of Leicester Ageing Together organisations. Through developing a bespoke website and simple interventions such as Whatsapp and Facebook groups, we investigated whether digital can improve the overall mental health, wellbeing and social connection of staff, volunteers and beneficiaries.

Who was involved?

Leicester Ageing Together is an age-affirmative umbrella organisation that promotes various charities' work, including workers Educational Association (WEA), Learning for the Fourth Age (L4A), Age UK, The Confederation of Indian Organisations, Focus, and Action on Hearing Loss. We worked with a range of participants but focused mainly on the staff and volunteers within these organisations and developed tools and resources they could share with their beneficiaries in care homes, libraries and cafes.

What we did

Working with LAT partners, we co-created a suite of creative workshops focused on mental health and wellbeing. Out of these, we built online tools for volunteers to empower them in their work with older people. Using a prototyping method with user testing, we developed 'Do Think Share' – a toolkit of creative activities which is free and accessible to all. The site also includes a platform for users to share their work and upload their creative activities.

Tools include online session plans; ‘How to videos…’; creative challenges, and self-curated galleries. Embracing the concept of cultural democracy, we have also helped users share their resources. Our growing community also engages with us and each other via existing social platforms – Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What were the outcomes?

Dr Jonathan Gross evaluated the project from King’s College London. Members of the LAT organisations have reported a wide range of benefits from our interactions with them, including an improved sense of confidence using digital tools, benefits to their one-on-one interactions with older people in various settings, and an overall uplift to their mental health, wellbeing, and sense of social connection.

Dothinkshare has become a key platform for delivering 64 Million Artists’ projects at a national level, offering digital creativity tools to everyone, as well as resources which carers and group leaders can use in various contexts. The tools are simple, accessible and flexible enough to be tailored to various needs.

"We've been really impressed with the response of the people in these workshops. They've been so willing to explore their lives. They've shown curiosity and respect and a real sense of mutual support."
- Sally Hall, WEA Older & Wiser Project Manager