I recall feeling curious and excited yesterday morning as I travelled to Birmingham. I was travelling north for our second Silver Dreams learning event run by Big Lottery Fund. My feelings turned out to be spot on, as it was a great day. The room was buzzing on arrival and never stopped, as Silver Dreamers shared ideas, learning and made new contacts with each other and with Big and Ecorys.

As many of you reading this will know there are 37 pilot projects in the Silver Dreams programme; some are mid way through their project and others have just a few months to run. Yesterday we learnt there seem to be 4 main models of interaction, although some – like ELRA – use more than one approach. The models are advocacy & befriending, peer support, strong volunteer network, with volunteers of all ages and specialist skills and meeting gaps in service provision.

As well as having the opportunity to network, we also shared learning and ideas about partnership working and policy influencing. Really useful sessions as both these areas are an essential element of ELRA and the other Silver Dreams.

The highlight of the day though were great presentations from 4 fellow Silver Dreams. Lots of learning and inspiration – so I thought I would share a little bit about them here;

  • Elders Craft and English Exchange – a wonderful project being led by Clara Sanjar working with Nepali communities in Hampshire. Their work is “providing a ‘bridge’ between two cultures, [and] helps address some of the dislocation Nepali elders feel when settling into a new way of life in a different culture”. For more information check out http://eceenepaluk.wordpress.com/ I’ve linked up with Clara as I can see real opportunities for us to share learning about working within different communities and in particular for ELRA to learn from this project’s experience of form filling.
  • Neighbourhood Return – a brilliant scheme being led by Deborah Ginns finding lost people with memory problems and getting them home safely and quickly. I know I am going to sign up when it comes to my area, and in the meanwhile Deborah I will send those contact details! For more information check out www.ourturn.org.uk
  • Planning for the Future – the Hampton Trust is adding life to years by encouraging older people to plan. They have an online planner, and I was delighted to see they include Advance Decisions! I made contact with Maggie Bennett and Alex Camm – we plan to catch up in the very near future as we saw a big opportunity for partnership working. Maggie and Alex would be delighted if you check out their planner http://www.planningforthefuture.co.uk/ and let them know how you got on
  • HenPower – this was a wonderful project to finish with, and great to hear directly from older people first hand about how much the project has “henergised” them!. HenPower helps set up hen keeping in older peoples care settings to offer fun and stimulating activities for residents, families and other independent living older people. Go on sponsor a hen by visiting http://henpowerblog.wordpress.com/
  • and if you want to know about all the other Silver Dreams visit http://silverdreamsblog.wordpress.com/

Big thank you to Big and Ecorys for bringing us all together yesterday – it was a wonderful experience being part of such an energising event and to meet so many other passionate people who are making a real difference to our local communities. Can’t wait for the next one!