As we come closer to applying to the World Health Organisation, we are working with partners across the city to make things more age friendly.
While asking people about what it takes to make an age friendly city, we heard that despite the range of festivals and events in Bristol, some are not accessible for older peoples’ needs and that some people didn’t always feel welcome.
We wanted to see if we could start to change this so we recently joined forces with Upfest, Europe’s largest and free street art festival to develop their first ever graffiti tour exclusively for older people.
Becoming age friendly means looking at the needs of older people and encouraging changes on a city wide level down to a very small local level. This ranges from working with Bristol Council to ensure that adult social care meets the needs of older people to highlighting why cars parked on the street can be a barrier to getting out and about. The two domains that we used to guide us through the process of setting up the graffiti tour have been the ‘Respect & Social Inclusion’ domain and ‘Social Participation’ domain.
The Respect & Social Inclusion domain aims to create an environment where older people are connected to their local community and feel respected and included in society. It was our hope that this graffiti tour would help encourage older people who live in the local Bedminster community to connect with a festival that is happening in their neighbourhood.
We live in a society that tends to focus on youth and the same can be said about graffiti culture. By setting up this graffiti tour, Upfest wanted to help dispel the association that graffiti can only be enjoyed by those who are younger in age, and to push the idea that graffiti can appeal to all ages. Focusing on intergenerational concepts and activities is a great way of helping to tackle negative stereotypes around age and ageing, and it is something we encourage others to do in line with this domain.
Participating in leisure, social, cultural and spiritual activities in the community allows older people to continue to exercise their competence and maintain or establish supportive and caring relationships. A lack of such social networks can have a negative impact in terms of health and wellbeing and can result in social isolation. The Social Participation domain looks to ensuring that older people in Bristol can access available activities when and where they want them.
So how could we ensure that the graffiti tour would be fully accessible to older people? In tackling this we wanted to focus on a few things.
• We wanted to make sure the tour was financially accessible to all, and BAB was able to cover the costs for this tour.
• We also wanted to make sure the tour was fully accessible with regards to all participants’ levels of mobility.
The route was carefully planned out, with our Age Friendly Project Officer and one of our older volunteers walking it, the day before. Together they reviewed the state of the pavements, ensuring there were no major barriers to movement, they also took note of where all the available toilet facilities would be. They also discussed the route with the tour guide, and agreed that participants would be asked to raise their hand during the tour if they could not hear what was being said. Overall the tour was a great success, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that it was extremely popular, with bookings still coming in despite the tour being fully booked. In the future if we were to do this again we would hope to be able to hold additional tours to include more individuals.
Looking back at those who attended the tour, perhaps greater efforts could be made to ensure we are as diverse in our reach as possible. We want to be paying attention to whether we are giving everyone the opportunity to attend activities like this.
We hope this could lead the way for other festivals to think about how they can be more age friendly. An idea for the future would be to carry out an age friendly audit of a festival in the future, to see if there is room for improvement.