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March 7, 2022

Time to feel proud!

Cast your mind back to April 2015. Can you remember what you were doing? In world news, the presidents of Cuba and the USA met face-to-face for the first time in over 50 years and a lifesize model of Godzilla’s head was installed on a skyscraper in Tokyo. Closer to home, the Time to Shine programme had just started to reduce social isolation and loneliness in Leeds. How the BBC missed that story I’ll never know.  

And here we are, almost seven years later, at the Time to Shine end-of-programme conference. Where has the time gone? 

The conference was a lively affair, held via Zoom over two morning sessions on the 2nd and 3rd March 2022. Each session was expertly facilitated by Kate Jopling, a consultant who has done lots of work with the national Ageing Better programme, and featured lots of interesting speakers. 

Around 60 people joined on the first day for discussions and presentations which focused on co-production. Bill Rollinson, Chair of the Time to Shine Core Partnership, gave the opening address. He explained how older people were at the heart of decision-making and planning from the moment the funding opportunity was announced by the National Lottery Community Fund. He shared his insight into the development of the Time to Shine programme, including how we arrived at the (slightly unusual) programme name!

Four delivery partners spoke next and then took questions from the audience in a panel discussion. Hannah from Yorkshire Dance talked about co-production at In Mature Company, a project offering creative movement sessions in care homes. Tom from Mojo Film talked about Shine magazine and the team of older writers who are involved in researching and writing the stories. Sarah and Elizabeth from Leeds Older People’s Forum told us about the DEEP Up and Go group and the Age Friendly Steering group who help to shape Age and Dementia Friendly work across the city. Discussions and informative presentations in breakout rooms focused on Diverse Voices, LGBT+ communities and Shared Tables, a project creating opportunities for older, single people to eat together socially in local restaurants and cafes. 

Comments from the chat during the session were amazing, and questions for presenters were coming thick and fast. One attendee wrote:

I have been impressed by a number of areas: 

a) How Leeds Older People’s Forum took overall responsibility from the start, but always worked closely with a broad range of partners 

b) The work has always had a strong focus on equality and targeting groups with ‘protected characteristics’. 

c) The work that has been done on legacy to ensure work continues after the programme

As expected Shine magazine received a lot of love in the chat and one attendee, new to the programme, told us that they after the conference they would: “investigate Shine magazine – it looks brilliant”

Day 2 was equally jam-packed and again around 60 people joined a Zoom session which was focused on collaboration. Cath Mahoney, Vice-Chair of the Core Partnership, gave the opening address and the following three key partners in the programme gave short presentations to attendees. Dr Andrea Wigfield from the Centre for Loneliness Studies at the University of Sheffield shared some of the key findings of the 6-year local evaluation of Time to Shine. Rachel from Leeds City Council shared some moving stories about older people living with frailty who received support from staff in the wonderful SWIFt projects. And last but not least Ilona from Leeds Community Foundation shared her insight from Time to Shine Small Funds. Discussions and informative presentations in breakout rooms focused on Commissioning, working with Younger Older people and Volunteer Listeners, a project which trained older people to listen to and share the stories of other older people.

All in all, the information shared across the two sessions – in presentations and in the chat box –  gave us clear and tangible reasons why we should feel proud of Time to Shine. I already know that I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished together but I’ll leave it to some of the attendees to share their opinions:

“We’ve seen the value of genuine involvement of older people in processes – Time to Shine did not engage in box-ticking”

“After the pandemic the ‘Don’t Call Me Old’ approach of engaging with younger older people now feels more relevant than ever.”

“Incredible to hear this summary of the Time to Shine local evaluation! Epic effort.”

So it’s nearly (but not quite) the end of Time to Shine. We’re all proud to have worked closely with so many partners, organisations and older people across Leeds. The spirit of optimism, collaboration, connections, friendships and of seizing all opportunities lives on as a legacy of Time to Shine, as does the huge volume of learning reports and other resources available on the Leeds Older People’s Forum website. I may well be biased, but I think our legacy is infinitely more useful than a lifesize model of Godzilla’s head.