Here at Time to Shine we know from experience that many people are isolated – shielding was only ever going to make this worse! What could we do, that would be tangible and positive?
Shine magazine was conceived shortly after the first Covid-19 lockdown began, in March 2020. Time to Shine worked in partnership with Mojo Film, a Leeds based film production company and social enterprise. Together we decided to create a series of six glossy lifestyle magazines in response to the pandemic. Shine was to be full of features and local stories relevant to people aged 50+ in Leeds.
Shine magazine was produced and distributed fortnightly, which turned out to be a bit of a treadmill, on which the speed was set too high! The community hubs were amazing and helped us to get the magazines through the doors of the most isolated older people who were shielding during lockdown. The aim was to help boost morale, reduce feelings of loneliness and create a feeling of connection to the local community.
Older people quickly started to submit stories, photographs, poetry, paintings and ideas. Older writers started to get involved too wanting to hone their creative skills. Shine evolved and became a co-produced publication – not just FOR older people but written BY them.
The Leeds Older People’s Forum landline number was published in the magazine to allow people to call and share their stories, and became the Shine Line! One call began: “My name is Margaret, I am 82 and I’ve got a tale to tell!” When a phone call starts like that, you feel like it’s time to put the kettle on and get comfy!
Those calls gave us feedback as well as stories, with snippets like:
“I love that stories are about real people – this magazine has much more backbone that other magazines made for older people”
“I really appreciate having a magazine that talks about things that I remember – Shine is directed right at my age group. So often it feels like older people’s views are discounted or not even sought. Shine is not preachy – it is comforting!”
This feedback told us that Shine helped people to feel more felt connected during lockdown by sharing their stories, giving them an opportunity to contribute and be heard.
It became clear that the magazine had other things to offer too – not just to the older people of Leeds but also to the organisations that exist to support them. We saw relationships between partners strengthen and grow and new links form. Neighbourhood Networks found in Shine a new tool to help them reach the most socially isolated during lockdown as they had something tangible to approach with, something solid to offer, even to those who did not need food parcels or prescriptions.
Shine also made space for public health messages to reach older people, with advice and guidance on how to stay well during lockdown, a vital time to be able to reach this group of people directly.
Who knew that Shine would become so popular? But once it had it was a really sad thought that those six lockdown issues would be the end. But Shine will shine on! We have managed to secure funds to produce another 12 issues and to move the magazine into phase 2!
Everything Time to Shine does is about ‘test and learn’; Shine has been no different. We have used the learning from phase 1 to shape this stage:
- Shine will be monthly rather than fortnightly – turning the dial on the treadmill to a more manageable speed!
- Mojo will continue to edit and design the magazine
- LS1 Print will still print every issue and, thanks to their kindness, help to circulate across the city too!
- a dedicated team of older volunteers and freelance writers will steer content and produce material
- a team of older people will manage and promote content on social media.
Our stories need to speak to older people so the involvement of older people is crucially important. We know that people want to read about ‘real’ people.
Shine phase 1 was distributed by the 33 ward hubs. Their help and support was invaluable and their enthusiasm was hugely motivating too! But we hope that phase 2 will develop a wider reach through Neighbourhood Networks, care homes and faith groups. Shine’s success is all thanks to the kindness, compassion, love, care and support of people and organisations across Leeds.
Read the full Time to Shine report – Shine Magazine: lifestyle, learning and laughter during lockdown in Leeds.
Leeds has an ambition to be the best city to grow old in. Shine magazine has contributed to uniting the city in that vision.
Programme Manager (Legacy), Time to Shine