Our Creative Friends service supports older people in our communities at risk of loneliness.
Friendly and informal, it focuses on people's interests to help them reconnect with their communities and form new friendships.
Unlike traditional schemes Creative Friends focuses on people's shared creative interests to bring them together.
"Creative Friends is giving me the opportunity to discover things I didn't know I'd enjoy. We've been to museums and galleries, I've even had a go at pottery. I'm enjoying learning again and having the chance to do things I've always wanted to have a go at but never had the chance."
By empowering people through the arts we aim to support them as they discover new experiences and friendships.
Alice Thwaite, Equal Arts co-director, said: "This project brings people together to enjoy creative activities, visiting galleries, developing old interests and discovering new ones.
"Working with older people for more than 30 years we have seen first-hand how a shared interest in the arts, whether this is painting, music or dance, can spark new friendships.
"Creative Friends gives people the opportunity to make new friends and get a little bit of support to get out there and try new things."
Joined by a volunteer, those benefiting from the service explore arts and culture and develop new friendships based on this common ground.
It won't be going to bingo on Monday or a tea dance every Thursday. Creative Friends is led by those taking part. You tell us what you'd like to do and we make it happen.
Become a Creative Friends volunteer
Can you give half a day a week to support older people?>
We are looking for volunteers to join our team helping people aged 55 and over to form new friendships and explore their creativity.
Bob Davidson, 77, joined Equal Arts after retiring from his pottery business. He said: "I have always been busy, working 10 hours a day and then I retired and thought 'what am I going to do with my life?'
"I've been a volunteer with Equal Arts now for four years and find it hugely worthwhile. I'm now part of a ukulele group and we take our music to older people who may not communicate much.
"We start playing and people join in and they are engaged. Their faces light up and in that moment we are communicating."
As a volunteer with the project you will become a Creative Friend, accompanying those taking part to cultural venues in Newcastle and Gateshead as they explore their interest in the arts.
A detailed six-week programme will introduce volunteers and participants to the project. After this time activities will be led by those taking part, along with ideas from the Creative Friend supported by the Equal Arts team.
By helping create new friendships between those taking part and broadening their social circles, Creative Friends can help alleviate loneliness.
Download the volunteer pack here.
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