The CAFE Garden Project is the first issue which the CAFE Group is going to work on following the three group meetings that were held at the Welcome Centre in Coventry. The project has been selected because it was the activity which most people in the initial group had an interest in.
Our first step is to further research the scope of the project by working with a group of “Age Friendly Experts” to identify what opportunities are available in Coventry related to gardens and gardening. It is anticipated that most of this research will be a desktop study and the research group will meet weekly to discuss the progress they are making.
Vernon Taylor, a GrumbleSmiles Trustee, has secured the support of “Florence” who is a former BBC Gardeners’ World Producer and with her help our intention is to produce a short YouTube video as a demonstration how we can better inform and connect older people in Coventry. We will then move on to other subjects.
This page of the blog will be used to report on the project’s progress and to notify people of the venue and date of future meetings.
FIRST MEETING – RYTON GARDENS FRIDAY 28th JUNE 2013
Because of the location outside of Coventry we only had a small number of “expert researchers”. They were all keen gardeners and their enthusiasm moved us forward. They have gone away to begin researching — gardens to visit / garden centres and gardening clubs and societies. A few more participants would be helpful and anyone is welcome to come along.
SECOND MEETING – BELGRADE THEATRE FRIDAY 5th JULY 2013
The venue turned out to be a very good one. The café itself had a few customers but we were able to sit in the theatre lobby immediately outside the café which was quieter and enabled us to talk comfortably amongst ourselves. Again on a small number of people attended but that enabled us to have a very good quality discussion.
We first of all reviewed the research that Frances and Maureen had completed in the previous week. The details of which are in the comments below this blog. Whilst the information available from websites was useful, it didn’t give us sufficient knowledge to identify why they would be particularly good places to visit. More work would be needed to establish the particular “Age Friendly” aspects of locations and some photos would be required to avoid people being disappointed if they made the effort to visit. We still intend to pursue the Garden Project as a demonstration of how we can improve the quality of Age Friendly information in Coventry.
We then switched our discussion to considering why more people aren’t attending and felt that one reason was a lack of understanding of what we are trying to achieve. It was also felt that the narrow single subject of gardening and the uncertainty of what is involved in making a YouTube video might also be putting people off.
We also had received a useful communication from John Archer who had attended the Ryton meeting but subsequently felt that the direction we were heading would not necessarily have relevance to the majority of socially isolated older people. John is the Chairman of Styvechale Residents’ Association and the group felt there might be potential in working with John to address the issues in a more defined geographical area. John Graham agreed to contact John Archer and discuss this idea further.
The group agreed in the week ahead to research what videos are available on YouTube that relate to gardening and might give an idea of the kind of information we need to gather.
Subsequent to the meeting I decided to visit the Central Library to see if they could assist us in any way, particularly in relation to meeting venue and facilities. In terms of computer support, the library service has free computers available in libraries around the city for signed up members. The Central Library is the largest and has 46 computer stations – most of which are used by students during the day, but they can be booked by anyone. At the time I visited, there were 10 stations which were blocked booked by a group and no doubt this could be done by GrumbleSmiles. The library service is also starting a one-one computer learning course referred to as GEN2GEN which links younger people with older people. This could be a useful link to anyone who wants to enhance their computer skills.
I then visited BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Radio. They have a suite of 12 computers in their reception area and they run a number of computer courses. There is a specific course called “First Click” which they have been trying to get started without success. It’s run by two retired teachers and is free and flexible in terms of what support it provides. They have been struggling to find participants and it sounds an ideal resource for the GrumbleSmiles project. I will follow this up with course tutors and report back.
THIRD MEETING – BELGRADE THEATRE FRIDAY 12th JULY 2013
At the next meeting two new people joined us who had previously been at the Welcome Centre Surveys. We were also joined by Christine Broughan of the Age Research Centre. We spent the early part of the meeting finding out about peoples’ backgrounds and getting to know each other better. We talked briefly about the garden project but at this point it doesn’t seem there is sufficient interest from enough people to move the project forward. It was decided that we needed to be clearer about where we were heading overall before we could continue with the project as a demonstration. It may also be better to directly approach some of the existing Garden Societies in Coventry.
John confirmed that in the afternoon he was due to see John Archer, the Chairman of the Styvechale Residents Association, and would invite him to the next meeting if there was a possibility of working with them. John also agreed to contact the BBC CWR Team who are running the “First Click” project to see if there is any overlapping area of interest with us.
FOURTH MEETING – BELGRADE THEATRE FRIDAY 19th JULY 2013
This time the group included a number of new people including John Archer from the Styvechale Grange Residents Association and Alex and Yvonne Robinson. Laura Cole came along from Coventry University. Most of the conversation focused on why more people weren’t coming along to the meetings. The first issue was felt to be the “garden project” which was not of interest to the majority of people, even though they have an interest in gardening. The second barrier was thought to be “fear of computers” in spite of the fact that 80% of our original group had computers. Another issue was felt to be the lack of a “free lunch” which was felt to be a useful draw for some of the previous attendees. Finally, it was acknowledged that many of the attendees were not themselves socially isolated and already had a network of friends and activities – therefore they may have little to gain from involvement in the project.
The discussion then turned to John Archer’s interest in tackling social isolation in Styvechale Grange. The area is tightly geographically defined and has 1700 houses but no community facilities except for schools. From John’s research it was felt that there were about 50% of the population aged over 50. It was also thought that 83 people categorised themselves in poor health. John intends to do further research to see if he can identify the number of older people in contact with Social Services and the number who are digitally connected with Broadband. John has already tried to recruit volunteers to make regular telephone contact with lonely older people on the estate but no-one came forward to help. John has gone away to consider whether there is potential for a GrumbleSmiles CAFE group on the estate. Another possibility is a joint project with Bob Fryer who is the Chair of a Residents’ Association in Finham.
Frances Fielding also went away to consider whether there was a possibility of establishing a project in Cheylesmore.
Alex and Yvonne Robinson have a background in computers and adult education and have been successfully running computer training courses, mainly for older people, in Coventry for a number of years. They came along to find out more about the GrumbleSmiles project and have agreed to stay involved to help the project evolve.
THE NEXT MEETING WILL BE AT THE CAFE IN THE BELGRADE THEATRE AT 10.30 AM ON FRIDAY 26TH JULY. THEY HAVE WI-FI IF YOU WANT TO BRING A COMPUTER.
ALL THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE PROJECT ARE INVITED TO POST THEIR COMMENTS AND IDEAS BELOW. OTHER READERS ARE WELCOME TO ADD THEIR VIEWS.