George and Joan's story


As people start to arrive, some making their way with walking frames, others being guided by a volunteer, Alex the tutor gives them a big warm friendly welcome. “Hello George, nice to see you; Hi Joan, are you feeling better now?”

They are members of one of Sense’s arts and wellbeing groups which bring older people together for company, confidence and creativity. Some are registered blind, others have trouble hearing; some have
arthritis, others may have suffered a bereavement. All welcome the chance to come to a place where they will be understood and supported.

Meeting a group of new people can be daunting, especially for those who have been feeling anxious and isolated at home. But taking part in shared art and crafts activities can be a powerful way to bring people together. They have created textiles which tell the story of their lives, they’ve made paintings, they’ve written blogs about their experiences – and they have confidently welcomed visitors to exhibitions of their work.

“It’s when you watch someone who starts so tentatively and really struggles, and you see them grow and grow in confidence,” says Alex. “Then you see the pride they take in themselves and each other – that’s utterly priceless.”


Joan has been a regular at the group and would certainly agree with that sentiment: “I can’t see, I can’t hardly hear, but I am a lot more confident and I am still having a go. And do you know what? I LOVE IT!”

Read more and watch a video about Sense's TEXTtiles project

Line drawing of an ear

Clear speech

Speaking slowly and clearly can really help an older person with a hearing impairment to communicate and participate.

Helping people shine

  • Sense offers a wide range of arts and wellbeing projects – from drama to dance, textiles to tapestries – where people can develop new interests and stay in touch with others.
  • Our communicator guides help people to keep, or extend, their independence. They offer guiding, communication support and practical help – for example, by helping individuals to visit the doctors.

2015-16 highlights

  • Two groups of older people brought their memories to life with vivid tactile quilts that were exhibited at The Paul Robeson Theatre and Waterman’s Art Centre in London.
  • A walking group for older people with sensory impairments in Hounslow – with the support of enthusiastic volunteers – took advantage of the lovely summer weather, thanks to support from the Public Health Small Grants scheme.

First published: Thursday 22 December 2016
Updated: Friday 6 January 2017