Please Vote Memory Afternoons

Warm and Toasty Club

Fresh On The Net readers – We Need You!

The community arts group I run — The Warm and Toasty Club — are in the final 5 of The People’s Projects for Anglia East with our project Memory Afternoons. The three most voted for projects will each win £50,000 of National Lottery funding so we are asking for your vote please, anyone in the UK can vote for us.

Memory Afternoons are about combating loneliness and isolation in older people whilst providing development opportunities for young aspiring artists, we are partnering on this with Colchester Arts Centre.

I’ve never asked for your support before on Fresh On The Net for this sort of thing but this is so important to so many people and will make such a huge difference to our communities that Tom kindly suggested I should blog about it to ask for your support. If you like what we do please share in your networks, thanks

You can VOTE HERE 

Online voting closes Midday on the 30th April.

But if you want to hear more about what its all about then please take a seat and let me tell you a little story……

I missed my Mum and Dad see, I missed the chats we had, not just the everyday stuff that was concerned with the price of milk or the news of what some politician had got up to, I missed the special stories, the stories of my parents as young people, of them going out dancing, being young and silly, of the 1940’s and of living in a world I never knew but through them had an innate connection to.

I missed their wisdom and most of all I missed the humour, the ability of all the family to pitch in and create belly laughs for everyone to feast on and enjoy, for all of us collectively to be silly at least once a day and just forget the noise of the world knowing those were the moments that held the power, that held the joy, that held the love that bound us together.

I needed a way to get some of that back and Memory Afternoons opened that door for me, but before I tell more of the Memory Afternoons let me go back a few years.

The Warm and Toasty Club began with gentle Sunday afternoon variety shows at Colchester Arts Centre – with props to Ben Howard and Anthony Roberts for their support and introductions.

The pilot took place back in 2014 at the Colchester Arts Centre as a magazine formatted variety show of sorts partly paying homage to John Peel’s BBC Radio 4 show Home Truths and was originally envisaged as a spin off of my regular – at the time – Snippet World broadcasts, which my wife Dawn filmed in our shed, and I then posted on the internet.

As I explained to the Colchester Gazette at the time “It’s a video diary that we do in our shed. We’ve been doing it for a while now and at first it was just a bit of fun, but now it’s become rather popular. The idea was to try and replicate that on stage at the Colchester Arts Centre. When I launched my Window Shopping album at the Headgate Theatre, there was such a lovely feeling in the room, I wanted to see if we could do that again.”

*Tom introduces Johnno at his album launch

Memory Afternoons were quickly born as a creative byproduct of the live Warm and Toasty Club shows, as an extension of chatting with lovely people like Geoff Darby onstage I thought it would be nice to chat to more older folk, initially in their homes.

And what do you know? it became popular so we devised and were funded for an tour of retirement establishments and we haven’t looked back since, now adding all sorts of entertainment to the core of the afternoons, which are positive face to face engagement and making people feel cherished and valued plus hosting lots of digital content: podcasts, blogs, videos etc and archiving the recorded memories with Colchester Recalled and Essex Sound and Video archive.

We complete each project run with a live show(s) at Colchester Arts Centre for all the family, threading charming entertainment into the gathered content from our older participants, showcasing the worth of our older generation to the wider public.

And a big part of our work has been in advising, developing and showcasing new music artists, often discovered on Fresh On The Net.

The playlist below includes people who have played some of our events and starts with a song written by Marina Florance and Jules Fox-Allen, based on our older participants memories.

And so, it is to the current day I turn as we need the public’s help – The Warm and Toasty Club have made it to the final of The People Projects for the Anglia East region and we have the chance to win £50,000 of National Lottery funding for our project Memory Afternoons – and we need your vote to help us win, anyone in the UK can vote.

Memory Afternoons are charming befriending and conversation events for older people with delightful live entertainment. These unique events are all about making older folk feel cherished and valued whilst providing development opportunities for young aspiring artists.

With your help, we can invite up to 100 older people every week for a year, to a local community hall to share positive memories of their lives, be entertained by singers and dancers and take part in a range of activities that will help them feel less lonely and isolated.

Our team put their heart and soul into making these events special and we would love to be able to take these events out into the community – your vote can help us deliver a year’s worth of these delightful afternoons at a set local venue with community transport to help bring our less mobile guests in.

Memory Afternoons will support, develop and showcase young emerging artists and provide opportunities for community arts professionals to work directly with the older participants. Young songwriters will be supported in writing and performing songs about the shared memories, artists will draw and make memento cards and singers, dancers and entertainers will perform as collectively we chat, we laugh, we share and we get happy.

We think that older people should be revered as they are in other cultures and not made to feel invisible – we celebrate older folk and the lives they have lived. We want to get people away from the TV to act as the catalyst for change by getting them chatting, laughing and making friends, as positive face to face engagement is so good for your physical and mental well-being.

But this isn’t a dry offering, oh no, this is face to face engagement that is full of fun, laughter, singing and dancing.

By sharing memories of lives well lived we turn the mirror back on participants to celebrate the rich and varied lives they have lived – our events have shown to really work in helping participants feel good about their lives and open up, they feel cherished and appreciated and we have seen that by doing so their loneliness is lessened, their social activities and circle of friends improved, their long term memory and their cognitive skills improve, they get out of the house and their self-worth and confidence greatly improves.

We’ve seen the real difference Memory Afternoons make – giving a new-found joy and confidence so that older folk blossom again.

Feedback from participants
“You’ve given me my sparkle again”
“You delivered happiness”
“We love it, it lifts our spirits high”
“This work wakes us up, makes us think and makes us appreciate what we have today”
“It eliminates loneliness doesn’t it”
“When I walk out of here I feel warm and I feel contented”

Winning this money would make such a big difference to the lives of older people in our area and allow us to set up a central local hub which they can attend weekly to chat, laugh and have fun and which they don’t have now. Many older Colchester residents (both living in care homes and independently in the community) face a lack of engagement or activities available and/or relevant to them, particularly when faced with issues of health, mobility and finance, this project will greatly help with that.

This funding will pay for the venue, staff, community transport, food and drink, equipment, singers, dancers and songwriters and give so much back to our community with our people centered approach.

If we win we’ve got big plans to make a big difference to older people’s lives with these lovely afternoon events but we can only do it with your help-please vote for Memory Afternoons

#MemoryAfternoons – a tonic for the soul

Have we got your vote?

VOTE HERE

Thank you

J
x

VOTE Memory Afternoons | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Podcasts | YouTube

Johnno Casson

Johnno Casson is a London-born/Colchester-based singer, musician, songwriter and show-off. He also compiles and releases compilations and is a serial supporter of new music. Johnno releases his own music as Snippet ,Old Tramp and also under his own name Johnno Casson.. As far as we know he was the most-played artist ever on Tom's legendary late night Fresh On The Net radio shows on 6 Music - having been featured no less than 18 times and appearing as an interview guest. You can also find Johnno on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube...

4 Comments

  1. Been lucky enough to see first hand what a difference Memory Afternoons make to people, some who, initially reserved and somewhat closed, become animated, keen to share a memory with so many smiles and laughter. I’m proud of my involvement and feel exceptionally lucky to have been a very small part of the immense amount of work Johnno Casson puts in to make The Warm and Toasty Club so very warm and toasty.

  2. Great work. Good luck.

  3. Thanks everyone for the support – We won!!!
    Updates here https://www.facebook.com/thewarmandtoastyclub/

Comments are now closed for this article.