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New performance to explore how and where we live as we grow older

Monday 25 to Sunday 31 October 2021 
Doorbells: Dreaming for the Future
 A humorous and moving performance featuring original live music which explores where we might live as we grow older

Skimstone Arts, Elders Council of Newcastle and Northumbria University have joined forces to present Doorbells: Dreaming for the Future a humorous and moving performance featuring live music and original songs which explore the critical decisions we make about how and where we live as we grow older. Inspired by the latest research about national housing issues Doorbells: Dreaming for the Future will tour to eight venues across Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead this October.

Audiences will be invited to meet Kathleen, an ageing rocker whose zest for life has taken leave along with her ability to make a decision about where to live. Should she change her home or things in it? Is it time to down-size? Is she too young for sheltered accommodation? Can Daz, her long term friend and former band mate help?

As Claire Webster Saaremets, Artistic Director at Skimstone Arts who created and produced the play explains:

“New figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that 8 million people in the UK currently live alone. Nearly half (48%) were 65 years of age or older and more than one in four (27%) were aged 75 and older. Doorbells: Dreaming for the Future aims to shine a spotlight on some of the many stories and research that people have shared, when making decisions about housing in later life, in a humorous and sensitive way. I hope the performance encourages people to talk more openly about some of the difficult decisions we all have to make about our lives.”

Following each performance audiences will be invited to stay and enjoy some light refreshments and engage in an important conversation about the future of housing in our region, how to access information, recent changes in policy and what needs to be considered when making a decision about where we live as we, and our loved ones, grow older.

Anne Raffle, Chair of Elders Council of Newcastle added: “We know that some of us stay in housing, which is no longer suited to our needs, at a time when we no longer have the energy or desire to make the change. This becomes even more difficult for those of us who do not have children or family members close by to help us through the process. By having early informed conversations, we start to think through the decisions we might make and to seek the practical help and support to enable us to follow them through. 'Doorbells' is our way of starting the conversation. Please join us and lend your voice and experience to the discussion.”

Recent reports from the Centre for Ageing Better and Care and Repair England show that more than 90% of older people live in ordinary housing rather than specialist housing or retirement homes, and understandably most want to stay in their own homes and local community for as long as possible. Despite this, a staggering 91% of homes do not meet even the most basic accessibility standards that make them ‘visitable’ by most people including wheelchair users, never mind suitable to live in.

Cathy Bailey, Associate professor in Ageing at Northumbria University, who supported the research that directly inspired the content for Doorbells, said: "The recent housing for older people report" suggests that we need to age proof' new homes. We also need to 'age proof' ourselves and society. There is still much to do, to get us all planning for later life across the life course and to change ageist attitudes broadly. We need a national conversation and consultation with people of all ages and from all backgrounds, to consider how we may plan for our future lives.”

Doorbells: Dreaming for the Future will be performed from Monday 25 October to Sunday 31 October at St Anthony’s in Walker, St Silas’ Church in Byker, Denton Burn Community Centre, Robert Stewart Memorial Hall in Fenham, St Martin’s Centre in Byker, Chopwell Community Centre in Gatehsead and Newcastle City Library as well as featuring as part of Dance City Inspire Festival celebrating dance and ageing this October. Tickets for Doorbells: Dreaming for the Future are free but booking is essential. To find out more about the performance and to book tickets visit Ticket charges apply at Dance City.

Doorbells: Dreaming for the Future has been made possible with support from Care & Repair England, the Rayne Foundation, Bluestone Consortium, Well Newcastle Gateshead, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund #HereForCulture.

Autumn 2021 Tour Venues & Dates

To book your FREE tickets please select a performance from the below list, click on the link which will take you to Eventbrite where your tickets can be booked.

Monday 25 October, 1.30pm St Anthony of Padua Community Association, Walker

, NE6 3BT This performance is not open to the general public. Tuesday 26 October, 1.30pm Newcastle City Library, Newcastle upon Tyne

All tickets are FREE but booking is essential.

Sunday 31 October, 4pm

Dance City, Newcastle upon Tyne As part of Inspire Festival

Ticket charges apply

Suitability 12+

About Skimstone Arts

Skimstone Arts exists to support diverse artists, people and communities at risk of social isolation to create work with, for and about the world that matters to them. It is one of the North East’s leading companies for inclusive music-driven arts practice and social action. Its approach is to co-create high-quality work with diverse artists, researchers and communities inspired by real stories and lived experiences, which reflect current social narratives, challenges and inspirations we face in today’s diverse society.

Skimstone Arts is a registered charity.

About Elders Council 
‘Older people working for older people’ is the mantra of the Elders Council of Newcastle which is the forum for older people in the city. It provides a platform for older people to have a voice on issues which matter to them and raises issues which are of concern to older people with policy makers and service providers. Elders Council uses innovative approaches with older people, often through the arts. Elders Council has an extensive communications programme keeping older people in the city informed.

About Northumbria University
 Northumbria University is a research-rich, business-focused, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence. Our research looks at shaping interventions that have health, educational, behavioural, economic and social impacts, at local, national, and international levels.

About Care & Repair England
 Care & Repair England aims to improve housing and related services so that older people can live independently in their own homes for as long as they choose. Their special focus is on older people living in poor or unsuitable private housing.

They work with, and not just for, older people. They innovate, develop, support and promote practical housing help e.g. with home repairs, adaptations, or advice about moving home.

They seek to improve related policy and practice. Care & Repair England is an independent charitable organisation set up in 1986 as an Industrial and Provident Society with Charitable Status (25121R)

Ageing Without Children

Latest National Housing Headlines:

Ageing without children
 The number of people over 65 without adult children is set to rise from over 1.2m to 2m by 2030.  Health and social care services are predicated upon the underlying assumption that families (largely adult children) fill the gaps in service provision.  Ageing Without Children

Living alone
 There is a very steep rise in the extent to which people are living alone in later life, with potentially significant impacts on the incidence of social isolation and/or loneliness. New figures from ONS show that between 2008 and 2018, there has been a 6% increase in people living alone, up from 7.5 million to 8 million. In 2018, nearly half of those living alone (48%) were aged 65 years and over and more than one in four (27%) were aged 75 years and over.

Caring responsibilities
 Most carers are themselves older people. There are over 1.8 million carers aged 60 and over in England. This includes 20% of the population in the 60–64 age group, compared with 12.6 % of the overall population. The rise in life expectancy amongst people with long term health conditions or disabilities means that caring for family members can continue for many years, even decades, and this often affects the future life prospects of ageing carers.

Housing Adaptations & First Treatment Costs 
 Currently, 40% of households aged 65 and over lack one or more of their required adaptations to suit their needs, and it’s been estimated that around 400,000 wheelchair users are living in homes that are neither accessible nor adapted. Not only this but of the £513 million first year treatment costs caused by poor housing, £177 million of this is the cost of treating people who’ve fallen in their homes, which could be prevented by ensuring homes were accessible to begin with. (Centre for Ageing Better and Care and Repair England)

Minor home modifications costing c. £300 per property reduced home fall injury rates by around a third, according to the findings of a new study. (The Lancet


Non Decent Homes 
Around 10 million people are living in 4.3 million non-decent homes (19% of all dwellings). Half of these non-decent homes (4 million) are lived in by an older person, and the large majority (78%) are homeowners, often living on low incomes and in disadvantaged areas. The number of over 75s living in a non-decent home is actually rising – up from 533,000 in 2012 to 701,000 in 2017. Centre for Ageing Better and Care and Repair England

95% of homes lack even basic accessibility features. (Care and Repair England)

Good Home Inquiry

A new online survey commissioned by the Good Home Inquiry has found that the majority (63%) of people approaching later life in England see home renovations as a priority in the next two years. But half (50%) of those aged 50-70 polled said the main reason they would not be able to carry out all the renovations they say are a priority is because they cannot afford it.

Among the top reasons for home renovations were maintenance, repair or necessity (mentioned by 50%), comfort (49%), and making their home more attractive (41%). One in five (20%) 50-70 year olds polled would like to make renovations to make their home easier to live in.  (The Good Home Inquiry is published by the Centre for Ageing Better)

“Better informed older consumers will demand improvements in the range of local housing options that can best meet their changing needs and lifestyles. Access to impartial and independent advice and information about our future housing and care choices in later life is therefore crucial.”  Jeremy Porteus, Housing LIN

Media Contact:

Claire Cockroft, Marketing & Communications Manager
 t: 07970322783

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